5-2 against Frankfurt, 3-2 versus Hoffenheim, now 4-2 against Union Berlin – the spectators at SIGNAL IDUNA PARK witnessed another spectacle in the third home game of the season. No other stadium in the country has produced so many goals. While the fans went home enthusiastic, the players assessed the 90 minutes critically.
"We're not sharp all the way through," said Mats Hummels, who added with a shake of the head: "We know the problems – we have done for the two years and three months I've been back. We struggle to turn them off."
The defender believes the "on-the-ball play" is at the root of the problem. "We need to occupy the spaces better and work the opponent to death with the ball. Instead, we allow the game to become too small and lose balls too easily. Unfortunately, we allowed Union Berlin back into the game with our still non-existent set-piece defending. Without Erling making it 4-2, it would've been a very unpleasant six or seven minutes. We can be happy we won and satisfied with the first 55 minutes. But we urgently need to work on not letting ourselves become passive and instead playing our game for the full 90 minutes."
At least this week there will be an opportunity to work on it on the training pitch, rather than simply talking about the problem on an away trip. For the first time in many years, the "September cycle" between the two international breaks does not consist solely of "English weeks". Normally, there would have been a round of Bundesliga fixtures taking place on Tuesday and Wednesday.
"We need to work on our defensive weaknesses," declared Mo Dahoud, who added: "We're happy with the victory, and we performed well for the most part, but towards the end we let the game slip away, which we don't want to happen. If we want to compete at the top, we need to become more stable."
"All things considered, the game was really positive," said Thomas Meunier, before then striking the same tone as Hummels and Dahoud had before him with his next sentence. "You have to be critical of the fact that we conceded two goals again. Defensively, we really need to improve." The Belgian openly admitted: "The second goal we conceded from the corner is down to me. It's about wanting it. We will get the problem under control in the coming weeks. I'm sure of that."
Marco Reus had expressed a similar sentiment at the final whistle. Marco Rose was happy to hear what his players had to say: "It's good that the lads themselves notice that we're always causing ourselves problems," said the head coach. "I'm relaxed because the players are frustrated."
Back to Thomas Meunier. Despite the error in the lead-up to Union's second goal, the EURO participant is clearly on the up and up in his second year with BVB. He has directly assisted three goals in the last three games and played a decisive role in another goal too. One of the reasons for this upturn is the return of fans to the stadium. "I've really missed playing in this football temple and not hearing this mood and atmosphere. I'm just happy. Even with 25,000 fans, it's wonderful. In Belgium, 25,000 spectators is a full stadium."
Leaving stadia on the winning side will be the objective for the coming weeks and months. "If we're always active, if we're always serious and focused, then we're an absolutely top team. Not only in German terms, but in Europe too," declared Mats Hummels: "But if we aren't, then we'll face problems against every opponent."