What a week it was! Through to the next round of the DFB Cup thanks to a come-from-behind 2-1 victory over league leaders Borussia Mönchengladbach last Wednesday, a 3-0 win over a previously undefeated VfL Wolfsburg in the Bundesliga on Saturday, and a sensational 3-2 triumph against Inter Milan last night despite trailing 2-0 at the break. Three footballing feasts at Signal Iduna Park in the space of a week. Have BVB now turned the corner and put their earlier setbacks behind them?
"The second half was outstanding. It was the kind of football evening that people love," said Hans-Joachim Watzke late on Tuesday evening. "But we need to put it into proper perspective: our wins have been narrow and hard-fought," the chief executive added. Dortmund needed 45 minutes to get going on each occasion, although the opening half against Inter offered more in the way of attacking momentum and link-up play than the first periods against Gladbach and Wolfsburg had. And BVB were playing at their home stadium, which can generate tremendous energy. It's no surprise that the eight goals across those three games were all scored in front of the South Stand.
"It became an onslaught that captivated the spectators and left Inter reeling," wrote kicker, while Ruhr Nachrichten added: "In an atmosphere full of power and energy, even the Italians with their defensive nous could not withstand the pressure as BVB unleashed a stream of attacks seldom witnessed at this level."
Sebastian Kehl, the Head of the Licensed Player Division, also lauded the team following a wonderful evening of football that will surely go down as one of the key moments if this season ultimately proves successful. But the team will certainly need to ensure greater consistency between their home and away form. The 2-2 draw with Werder Bremen was the only disappointing moment at Signal Iduna Park, where BVB picked up a respectable 0-0 draw with FC Barcelona and won their seven other matches across all competitions – against Bayern Munich (2-0), FC Augsburg (5-1), Bayer Leverkusen (4-0), Borussia Mönchengladbach twice (1-0 and 2-1), VfL Wolfsburg (3-0) and now Inter Milan (3-2). On the road, however, there have been three victories (in Uerdingen in the DFB Cup, in Prague in the UEFA Champions League and in Cologne in the Bundesliga), three draws and two defeats across all competitions.
Kehl, however remains optimistic about the weekend trip to FC Bayern: "If we play like that, then we have a good chance in Munich too – and that's how we'll need to play: with lots of intensity, courage and a readiness to take risks."
Those traits, combined with enormous desire, were all on show against Inter, prompting applause from the fans at and after half-time. The crowd in Dortmund have long been able to draw a distinction between result and performance. The 2-0 scoreline at the break seemed insurmountable, and it was rather unfortunate as well given that replays appeared to show Argentine forward Martinez committing a foul against Manuel Akanji in the build-up to the opening goal.
"Put simply, Inter were very clinical in the first half. They scored two goals from their two chances, while we couldn't convert our two opportunities," said defensive linchpin Mats Hummels. "But we then gave Inter very little breathing space in the second period and produced a very good half of football." Achraf Hakimi, who bagged a brace either side of Julian Brandt's strike, played a big role in turning the 2-0 deficit into a 3-2 advantage in the space of 25 minutes. The much-acclaimed Moroccan described it as a "magical night" and an "indescribable evening".
With seven points on the board from their first four matches, BVB have now given themselves an excellent shot at securing their place in the last 16. They might have lost their head-to-head battle with Inter on account of the 2-0 defeat in the reverse fixture, but the Italians will need to pick up three more points than BVB from their remaining games away to Slavia and at home to Barcelona, whom BVB face at home and away respectively.