Borussia Dortmund responded to criticism of their display last Friday at Heidenheim with all three points and a much better performance in a 3-0 win over Freiburg at the Signal Iduna Park. Two first-half goals from Donyell Malen put them on course before Niclas Füllkrug hit a third late on. For Freiburg, it was a third successive loss which sees them losing more ground on the European places. Here are five takeaways from the Friday night Bundesliga action…
1- Donyell Malen in the groove
Dutch forward Donyell Malen was a major factor in BVB’s surge towards the title last season and he is once again hitting a real rich vein of form at the start of 2024. He was red hot in the first half opening the scoring after 16 minutes with a fine finish after being teed up by Füllkrug. His shot required little in the way of backlift to fly past Freiburg keeper Noah Atubolu.
He doubled his tally in first half stoppage time after protests had caused a lengthy disruption. Again Füllkrug provided the assist as Dortmund broke forward at pace and Malen provided the clinical finish to take his goals total this season to nine.
2- Fridays and Freiburg a firm favourite
Dortmund clearly love playing under the floodlights on a Friday night and they also love playing Freiburg. Their 3-0 win tonight has seen them extend their unbeaten streak playing on Fridays to 36 matches without defeat (27 wins, 9 draws).
The win also extended their positive run against the Breisgauer. They have taken 46 points from a possible 48 in their last 16 games against Christian Streich’s side with Freiburg’s last win coming way back in 2001 when current BVB sporting director Sebastian Kehl played for the Black Forest club.
3- Defensive woes pile up for Christian Streich
Freiburg were already without the services of the injured first-choice centre back pairing of Matthias Ginter and Philipp Lienhart and the defensive woes just went from bad to worse with an injury to Manuel Gulde , which forced him off in the first half. Christian Streich will now need to do some creative thinking as he moves forward without three key defensive players.
4- Much better attacking build-up from BVB
The criticism aimed at Dortmund last weekend was justified in terms of their attacking play just not being good enough, but tonight they had obviously been stung into action and their all-round game going forward was much more fluid and contained much more of a threat.
They used the talents of left back Ian Maatsen in a much more advanced role when in possession and the loan signing from Chelsea had another excellent game. He showed the intelligence to occupy the correct spaces and was a constant option down the left-hand side (BVB’s dominant side tonight). Julian Ryerson also had a good game on the right on his return from injury, while Jamie Bynoe-Gittens pace was used to good effect (even if the end result was missing).
Birthday boy Niclas Füllkrug held the ball up well and provided both assists for Malen’s goals before he himself got on the scoresheet with a late header.
5- Freiburg’s attack non-existent
The 3-0 scoreline was more than justified and the home side could have had even more if it wasn’t for keeper Atubolu, the post and poor finishing from substitute Jadon Sancho. The ‘nought’ on the Freiburg balance sheet however was also fully justified as they didn’t really provide a threat and keeper Gregor Kobel had a very quiet night on his return to the team.
Dortmund’s press and lightning quick ball recovery didn’t help, but Vincenzo Grifo was subbed off on the hour mark along with striker Michael Gregoritsch. Their xG of 0.26 reflected this and they are in the bottom seven in terms of goals scored.