So, Borussia Dortmund won 1-0 for the second match in a row to go top of the Bundesliga (temporarily at least) as they beat Hoffenheim at the Signal Iduna Park on Friday. In what could be a regular feature, we take a closer look at what can be taken away from the Bundesliga’s Friday night match.
1. The penalty law is still unclear
Dortmund were denied a penalty by referee Daniel Siebert in the first half for a potential handball- a decision that just throws more confusion on the ‘handball law.’ Referees have been told that the hand/arm has to be in an unnatural position or have intentional movement to stop the ball.
Granted, Ozan Kabak’s handball to stop Marius Wolf’s cross in the 32nd minute was easy to miss as the Hoffenheim defender originally had his arms clearly behind his back, His late movement of his arm to block the ball happened so quickly that Siebert could have missed it.
The VAR in Köln however had the benefit of the slow-mo replays and did look at it and communicate with referee Siebert. The decision not to consult the pitch side monitor meant they were happy with the original decision- much to the surprise of the viewers who had seen a ‘clear movement of the arm towards the ball.’
If that wasn’t a penalty, then it also cannot be a penalty when it happens elsewhere in the Bundesliga this season. The frustration thing though is that it will be given elsewhere and the question of consistency and even the interpretation of the law will be raised once again. The debate will rage on.
2. Dortmund are still a team that lack the killer touch
Another three points and another clean sheet, but the game should have been put beyond Hoffenheim way before the end. Dortmund missed huge chances in the first half through Jamie Bynoe-Gittens, Anthony Modeste and Marco Reus to put the visitors out of sight.
As the second half progressed BVB were made to scrap (sometimes literally), and it wouldn’t have come as a huge surprise had Andrej Kramaric or Georgino Rutter grabbed an equaliser. 1-0 is not always going to be enough for the Schwarzgelben.
3. Hoffenheim just didn’t create enough last night
Hoffenheim showed that they have goals in them in their 3-0 away win at Bayer Leverkusen, but that was not in evidence on Friday at the Signal Iduna Park. An Xg of 0.41 declined to 0.19 from open play across the 90 minutes. xGOT (expected goals on target) was only 0.17.
Both Kramaric and Rutter had quiet games with Gregor Köbel only being called upon to make two saves in the game. For a team looking to go top of the table they are going to need a little (a lot) more bite. A triple substitution at half-time showed how disappointed Andre Breitenreiter was with the performance.
4. Nico Schlotterbeck is already the defensive boss
Game on game this season Nico Schlotterbeck is emerging as a candidate for the Man of the Match award, and he was once again on top form against Hoffenheim. His standards have been set so high at Dortmund from the very start that any dip is going to have BVB moaning that he is ‘only’ very good not top-class.
With Edin Terzic continuing to opt for a flat back four and with veteran Mats Hummels also showing top form, Niklas Süle is going to have to settle for a back-up role for now as the pairing of Schlotterbeck and Hummels excels.
5. Anthony Modeste poses more questions than he answers
I can help but wonder whether Anthony Modeste is helping BVB or hindering them. Hear me out. He scored the only goal of the game against Hertha Berlin last week to seal the three points, but his presence as the focal point in attack is changing the way Dortmund attack and, in a way, taking away from their natural flow.
The goal scored by Marco Reus last night was a typical flowing move that sliced through the centre with swift movement. BVB however often now look to get the ball wide to deliver crosses for Modeste to feed off. They are having to change the way they play to suit the former Köln striker rather than vice-versa.
They felt they had to react following Sebastien Haller’s enforced absence, but would either Karim Adeyemi or Youssoufa Moukoko be a better fit to the natural way BVB attack? If Modeste bangs in 20+ goals this season then great, but at the moment it seems he poses more questions than he answers.