After receiving a chastening lesson from RB Leipzig at the weekend, Borussia Dortmund produced a top defensive performance and looked set for a shock win against Manchester City before late goals from John Stones and (who else?) Erling Haaland left them empty handed. Here we look at five takeaways from the encounter at the Etihad.
1. That was the best BVB defensive display this season (for 80 minutes at least)
It will hurt a lot that BVB left the Etihad with nothing following a strong defensive display that certainly deserved a share of the spoils. With Nico Schlotterbeck on the bench due to a slight back strain, Niklas Süle partnered Mats Hummels at the back with Emre Can joining Jude Bellingham and Salih Özcan in front of the back four to make two banks of defence.
The tactic worked and City were frustrated with Süle and Hummels continually getting in the way of threaded through balls and reading the danger well. At 1-0 up, they understandably came under intense pressure although there was not much they could have done about Stones’ long-range equaliser.
BVB left disappointed, but there were so many positive signs considering how they kept Manchester City out for so long (Stones equaliser was their first shot on target). The organisation and communication worked well, and Pep Guardiola will realise that his team were a little fortunate to take all three points.
2. Mats Hummels has surely just played himself into the next Nationalmannschaft squad.
With Bundestrainer Hansi Flick considering his squad for the upcoming fixtures against Hungary and England, one name certainly on the list will be Mats Hummels after his performance against Manchester City. What Hummels lacks in pace he more than makes up for in his ability to read the game and snuff out danger.
Hummels worked incredibly well with Süle and marshalled the defence very well. Interviewed straight after the game, he couldn’t hide his disappointment at leaving with nothing despite a clear massive improvement in the team’s overall performance.
3. If Jude Bellingham is at Dortmund next season, it will be a miracle.
Quite simply Bellingham stands out head and shoulders above the rest of the BVB players and despite being just 19 years old he leads the team by example and drives the team on. He worked well in the midfield triangle with Özcan and Can both defensively and with attacking runs. He bossed those around him like a veteran and never stopped running.
His goal capped a top performance that will only add to the clubs desperate to take him off Dortmund’s hands. He belongs on this stage, and it wouldn’t be unimaginable to picture him at one of the absolute top addresses. He adds to his market value on a weekly basis and Dortmund are going to have to fight off a whole host of interested parties in the summer (if not before).
4. Alexander Meyer is more than an able deputy for Gregor Köbel.
No blame can be attached to keeper Alexander Meyer for either of the City goals and his overall performance was more than satisfactory. In the biggest pressure game of his career thus far he stood up to what came his way, came, and held crosses and looked to be one of the rare keepers to keep Erling Haaland goalless. He came close, but in Gregor Köbel’s absence, BVB can be confident they have an able deputy.
5. It had to be Haaland didn’t it?
After Robert Lewandowski failed to find the back of the net against Bayern Munich on Tuesday, it looked for a long time that Borussia Dortmund were going to be successful at keeping their former goal machine out. He was marshalled well by the defence, but you can never rule him out, or think a ball is beyond him.
The cross for his goal proved unsuitable to head, but he improvised superbly to get his left leg really high and produce a controlled finish from a crazy angle/ position. His celebration was respectfully muted, but the Dortmund fans must have known all along that something like this was bound to happen.