Borussia Dortmund: joy of kicking and excitement about Haaland

IAt some point, midnight was not far away, Marco Rose smiled to himself and thought carefully about what to do with this question, which was on the mind of many Bundesliga observers after Borussia Dortmund’s impressive 5-1 victory over SC Freiburg .

A reporter wanted to know whether this demonstration of strength was “also a declaration of war in the direction of Munich” after BVB’s lead in the table had shrunk from nine to three points within a week. At least until the FC Bayern game in Cologne on Saturday (3:30 p.m. in the FAZ live ticker for the Bundesliga and on Sky).

Rose snorted, shrugged his shoulders and recalled that just a few days ago most commentators and regulars’ tables had described the Bundesliga “again as mega boring”, “with great criticism of us”. But Rose also said that his club “has the right to have the championship trophy again at some point in Dortmund”.

For such a coup, however, a “consistency” is necessary, which was missing in the first half of the season. The ratings of the title fight, which constantly fluctuate between some extremes, obviously annoy Rose. But it is also visible that they are still dreaming of the championship title in 2022 at BVB.

Striker Haaland scores again

Especially since this victory over Freiburg strengthened the impression that Borussia could have fundamentally developed further. The great weakness, dealing with standard situations, had suddenly become a strength: Thomas Meunier headed in two corners from Julian Brandt to put him 2-0 up early on (14th and 29th minutes), and the defense defended the dead balls of the SC sovereign. In addition, his team “reacted well to ball losses” and “had good ball wins,” explained Rose.

The faces on the field showed joy in kicking, which was missing in December, in the meantime there was a feeling of great ease in Dortmund’s actions. “Spirit, energy among each other, that was an important topic that we took up after the Christmas vacation,” said Rose, and this is exactly where his team “made a good step.”

Erling Haaland, who had not scored in two previous games, also scored two goals (45′ and 76′) before the strong Mahmoud Dahoud followed up with a fifth (86′). After important players were permanently absent in the preliminary round, almost all professionals were ready to play, but Freiburg also made their contribution to this one-sided football evening.

“It was just a bad game from us,” said coach Christian Streich, whose team had previously achieved the feat that is unique in SC Bundesliga history by playing 18 games in a row at least very well and mostly even really well. That streak has now ended, and the trend is worrying.

Meunier and Can injured at BVB

Freiburg have only won two of the last nine games, which is not the record of a European Cup participant. “It felt like we were outnumbered on the pitch,” said captain Christian Günter, which on the one hand had to be understood as criticism of the behavior of his own team, but was also praise for Dortmund.

The winners also had to grapple with some less pleasant topics later in the evening. With the strong Meunier and Emre Can two players got injured again. And after the game, Haaland decorated this eventful football evening with a few very clear statements that the Dortmund club management could hardly like.

In a conversation with a Norwegian TV station, when asked about his future plans, he replied: Despite all the speculation on the subject, he “didn’t say anything out of respect for Dortmund for the last six months. (…) I let everyone else around the world talk. But the club puts pressure on me to make a decision,” said Haaland. This topic complicates his work for the team. “I don’t want to think about anything but football because it gets difficult when I have other things on my mind,” he said, “but they’ve been pushing for so long now that I’m going to start things.”

Understandably, Dortmund would like to know as early as possible whether they can continue to plan with Haaland in the future. Or whether they have to start looking for a new striker, for whom they could invest part of the approximately 75 million euros that a change of clubs would bring in for the Norwegian. But they want to avoid a conflict with Haaland at all costs.

“We can’t wait until May”

“We’re not putting Erling under any pressure at all,” explained managing director Hans-Joachim Watzke to the “WAZ” that night, “there are currently no talks or appointments, so I can’t understand it.” But Watzke also said: “We can’t wait until May, that’ll make sense to him too. As a professional, he has to understand that at some point you will talk about the future.”

So there won’t be a second half of the season without any disruptions for Dortmund, but the chances of an exciting title race have actually increased again after BVB’s first two games in the new year.

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