Borussia Dortmund remain a force to be reckoned with on home turf after beating Eintracht Frankfurt 4-0 (1-0) on Bundesliga Matchday 22. The result lifts the Black & Yellows into second place in the table – for a night at least.
Boris Rupert reporting
The 81,365 spectators at a sold-out Signal Iduna Park saw a BVB side that was firmly in control deliver a convincing and focused defensive performance while also taking a 33rd-minute lead when Lukasz Piszczek converted one of their eight shots on goal in the first period. Two goals in quick succession from Sancho and Haaland in the 50th and 54th minutes respectively gave the hosts a commanding 3-0 lead, with Guerreiro adding a fourth on 74 minutes.
BVB and SGE went into this one third and second in the post-winter break form table with nine and 10 out of a possible 12 points respectively. Borussia did not lose a single Bundesliga match against Eintracht between 2017 and 2019 (three home wins and three away draws). It's almost always a high-scoring classic when the two teams meet, with 3.4 goals per game on average.
Delaney (fitness training) and Reus (muscle injury) were joined on the sidelines by Brandt, who partially tore the lateral collateral ligament in his ankle in the Leverkusen game. Coach Lucien Favre made two changes to the team that started the 4-3 thriller last time out, with Piszczek and Hazard replacing Akanji and Brandt.
BVB switched to a three-man defence which frequently expanded into a back four (Guerreiro slotted in on the left) and on occasion would even become a back five with Hakimi dropping back. Witsel and Can formed the double pivot in defensive midfield, while the Black & Yellows attacked in a highly flexible 3-4-2-1 formation with Sancho and Hazard mostly playing off Haaland. Frankfurt lined up in the same 4-2-3-1 formation they have used in every match since the winter break.
The match & analysis:
By the midway point of the first half, a dominant BVB had registered 68 percent possession and four shots compared to their opponent's zero. The most dangerous attempt during that period came in the ninth minute when Guerreiro struck a free-kick from 20 metres out that rebounded off the upright.
However, it was not until the 33rd minute of the match that Borussia created their first opportunity from open play against an opponent with an energetic and aggressive defensive style. Can spotted the unmarked Guerreiro on the left wing and although his cross was cleared, Hakimi spotted stand-in captain Piszczek racing forward and teed him up on the edge of the penalty area. The oldest player on the pitch took a shot with his left foot and buried it – taking his tally to 19 goals in 309 Bundesliga appearances.
The Black & Yellows replicated the same level of concentration and focus in the second half and all-but sealed the victory with two goals in four minutes. The first came in the 50th minute when Hummels spotted Witsel in space in the middle. The Belgian found Sancho on the left and the Englishman proved to be unstoppable as he left Abraham on his back before rifling home his 13th goal of the campaign from a centre-left position around 10 metres out. Four minutes later, Guerreiro initiated the third. The Portuguese energetically beat two Frankfurt players and fed Hakimi. He combined with Sancho before squaring the ball into the centre for Haaland to tap home his eighth goal of the season!
By the 70-minute mark, BVB had registered 13 shots to Frankfurt's one. The focus was on the defence tonight, but it did not come at the expense of attack. The team might have taken their foot off the gas slightly once they were in a commanding lead – in a bid to conserve energy for the big Champions League clash on Tuesday – but that did not stop them from producing one or two moments of magic. And when Borussia upped the temp, Eintracht simply couldn't cope. Guerreiro started (and finished) the move that led to the fourth goal with a long ball to Hakimi. Haaland could not get his cross under control. But the attempted clearance by a Frankfurt player went straight to Guerreiro, whose well-placed and powerful shot from 18 metres flew in to take his tally to five goals for the season.
Borussia Dortmund will face Paris St. Germain in the first leg of their UCL Round of 16 tie on Tuesday evening. Kick-off at Signal Iduna Park will be at 21:00 CET. The next Bundesliga game for the Black & Yellows comes next Saturday when they travel to SV Werder Bremen (kick-off at 15:30 CET).