Marco Rose is the coach that Dortmund wanted for some time. Terzic was the interim brought in last December, who was able to salvage a lost season by winning 6 straight in the league to finish 3rd, and defeating Leipizg in the Cup final. Eight straight wins to end the season, following a loss to Frankfurt in April that sent a panic that Dortmund may not qualify for the Champion’s League. Fortunately, Dortmund’s winning streak was accompanied by inconsistent play from Frankfurt and Wolfsburg down the stretch, and Dortmund was able to climb to third in the final month after appearing to be on the outside looking in after that April defeat.
Saturday, Dortmund was able to start a new era by getting an opportunity to avenge that April defeat. The Yellow and Black responded by defeating, crushing, obliterating and humiliating the Frankfurters. Actually, Frankfurt showed just enough that they may be okay under former Wolfsberg manager Glasner. But on this day, they were completely overmatched by a Dortmund team that had the determination, energy and talent to simply overwhelm them.
The Dortmund frontline attacking players are strong and that is an understatement. Haaland opened the season with a hattrick in the first Cup game and followed that up on opening day in the league with 2 goals and 3 assists. Technically he actually had 2 assists, as the Bayern lovers in the front office removed the assist on Reyna’s goal because of a slight deflection, but the point of Haaland having a 10 on a 10 scale type afternoon is an understatement. Having just turned 21 in July, Haaland has firmly established himself in that upper echelon of phenoms, along with Mbappe, waiting to take their place as heirs to Messi, Cristano Ronaldo and Robert Lewandowski. His energy, enthusiasm, and intensity is simply unmatched, as he emerges as the player that simply lives up to the hype every time.
Behind Haaland, the line of Reus, Reyna and Hazard was extraordinary, especially Reus who could lay a claim to man of the match in nearly any game he plays. He scored the opening goal and had some simply spectacular passes in midfield. What was most impressive for the opening game, though, was the level of interchange between Reus, Reyna and Hazard where they all had a level of understanding of where they should be, where they should go and how to shred the Frankfurt D. On the first goal, Haaland charged into the Frankfurt 1 /3 with Reus on his left and Hazard on his right with both being open, as Haaland drew the attention. Reus easily finished.
On the second goal, Reus was instrumental early in the break out of midfield and it was Reyna who attacked on Haaland’s left side as Haaland slid it over for the open Hazard to finish on his right. Eventually, Haaland jumped a lazy pass at the back of two Frankfurt defenders advancing out of their own end, and simply took it in all by himself. The Frankfurt defense simply never knew what hit them, waves of energy and speed, and even when they were crowded back in their own box, Haaland found a way to deliver the ball to Reyna, who finished for his first goal of the season.
With Malen, Tigges, Moukoko and Knauff, and possibly Brandt, they hopefully have the power on the bench to rotate, cover for an injury or two, or bring in some fresh legs late. They would love to add one more winger, but likely need to spend money to shore up the fullbacks and defense first.
The midfield was solid with Bellingham and Dahoud initially lining up in what would be a pivot but usually Dahoud was adhering strictly to a number 6 role and Bellingham had more freedom to be more involved in the offense while Dahoud cleaned up.
The defense was what it was. Witsel got the surprise start as a centerback with Hummels, Zagadou, Coulibaly, and even occasional center-back Emre Can out. Pappadopolous came in for much of the second half, so Rose was able to get the Bundesliga II player a lot of work without the pressure of being thrown in early. Akjani was solid. Passlack had a mixed game with some nice pressure and steals, but a completely disappointing own goal. Schulz was Schulz. Some great runs forward with his well above average speed but really missing that great pass at the end of his run. He did defend decently at times. Hard to predict how that will play out yet, as there were rumors in the recent past of his moving to Berlin and Halstenberg coming in, but the season has started and he had a fairly solid game.
The biggest relief came among Dortmund fans when Gregor Kobel had an impressive debut in his first league game for Dortmund. So far, he was every bit the step up from Burki ad Hitz that Dortmund executives and fans hoped for when they brought him in. Surprisingly, on a few occasions, he stepped up in the role of sweeper/keeper coming way out of his goal to intercept balls knocked into the Dortmund half of the field, which is surprising in that he was said not to be a sweeper/keeper when brought in from Stuttgart, where he was far more of a big, defensive keeper that was most comfortable just defending the box. With the line being high at times, it was fairly important for Kobel to mentally be involved in the game at all times and to have that mobility to be more than just a defensive keeper, and he rose to the occasion.
They won’t all be that easy, as Dortmund was simply jacked for their home opener, and who knows what is in store for Dortmund on Tuesday, when they face Bayern in the German Supercup. The Bayern defense, though, knows they have their handsful with Haaland, though, and the Dortmund faithful know they have a shot-bring it on.