Absolutely nobody was stunned to see Marco Reus destroy Bayern Munich in the second half of the the first Dortmund v. Bayern showdown of the season. Reus is healthy and in the best form he has shown in years, racking up 8 league goals in just 11 games.
Reus scored 21 goals in his last season for Lucien Favre’s Borussia Mochengladbach, but his Dortmund career was always plagued by a mixture of impressive performances and long-term injuries. At his best, he can power Dortmund to huge performances against giants including Real Madrid and Bayern Munich. Reus returned from injury last winter and carried the mess of an offense Stoeger threw out on the field last season, and more than any other player was responsible for Dortmund staying in contention for Champion’s League play.
Reus raised his game well above last season’s late heroics for the first showdown with Bayern. Dortmund was down at the half. In fact, Dortmund struggled badly with Bayern in the first half and conceded a goal to the unstoppable force that is Lewandowski. Lewandowski was just too much for the young Dortmund defenders, Akjani and Zagadou, who had a great game overall but were challenged by one of the best scorers in the game.
Early in the second half though, Sancho fed Reus a perfect through ball and Reus timed it perfectly, releasing the ball just as Neuer slid in easily drawing the penalty. Reus completed the penalty with class. Bayern was determined, though, not to go down without returning a punch. Lewandowski with another goal and Bayern jumped back in the lead only minutes after Dortmund tied the game at one.
It was Reus’s day, though, and eventually the speed of Dortmund simply took control of the game against Bayern. Whereas Ribery and Alaba combined to keep Jadon Sancho under control in the first half, they were nowhere to be seen in the second half and Sancho was blazing down the sideline with no defender in sight throughout the second half. Sancho was definitely one of the stars of the day. Veteran Piszczek, though, was ultimately the player that laid in a perfect passs that he ripped in after his run on the right for Reus. Reus’s hit on Piszczek’s pass is one of the goals of the year. He simply swung and connected with the ball in the air burying a line shot into the net. Whereas Neuer could be said to be late on coming out on the earlier penalty, there was nothing that could be done to stop Dortmund on Reus’s second goal.
In addition to Reus and Sancho, who were extraordinary in the second half, it was Axel Witsel, who was a force for Dortmund in this game. Witsel started in a deep central midfield pivot with Weigl. When that setup wasn’t working, he dropped even deeper into more of a back three in possession with the two centerbacks. And while this was more able to deal with Bayern’s pressure, Favre, then, moved Witsel outside of the two centerbacks looking to play long diagonal passes on the counter. Ultimately, this was the adjustment that paid dividends. Witsel powered out of the Bayern end on the right side, and, then, hit a long diagonal into the massive space behind the Bayern defenders.
Paco Alcacer’s speed was far too much for the Bayern defense and quickly he was racing on goal with just Neuer to beat. Paco easily slotted the ball past Neuer and Dortmund, then, had to hang on for dear life. Lewandowski wasn’t done, though, he scored one more 5 minutes into extra time, but the flag was up as he was offsides. Scoring 33 in the first 11 league games and conceding just 12, Dortmund is deservedly in first place in the league. Dortmund’s first halves aren’t always pretty, as even in this game starting Goetze as a striker and Weigl in the pivot next to Witsel did not work, but Favre is quick to recognize what isn’t working and Dortmund has owned the second half in every league match they have played.