DORTMUND CLOSE PRESEASON LIKE CONTENDERS
The final two weeks of the season would be Favre’s last chance to get the team going, with everyone back in camp and fit to play he would be out of excuses for any poor performances. Two home games against good teams (Napoli & Lazio) would also give fans an opportunity to come out and see some interesting games.
Friendly (H) : Napoli 0 - Borussia Dortmund 2
The game opened tightly, with both teams making solid attacks, but eventually Napoli gave way at by 30’ Dortmund was in full control. The 4-1-4 defensive front had Napoli on lock down, losing possession regularly and giving Dortmund counter attacking opportunities. Unfortunately they didn’t result in much, with a 12:3 shot advantage after 30’ but no goals to speak of.
While the game was exciting, it had to have been frustrating for the fans. Luckily the tension broke just before the half, for the fans and a certain player, as Paco Alcácer would open his BVB account at 43’ on a killer long pass that would release him between the central defenders and give him a 1-on-1 with the goalie. Unlike every other time this summer, he converted with a sharp shot to the lower left corner as the keeper fell to his left. It was only a preseason game, and it wasn’t even halftime, but his teammates celebrated as though he’d won the league.
“It was good,” said Alcácer afterwards “but it is early, it doesn’t matter until the games count.”
The half ended a little too late for Napoli as Thomas Delaney scored at 45+3’ on a pass across the box from the goal line hit firmly by Christian Pulisic. That would essentially end the game, the second half was a rather dull affair with Napoli parking the bus and settling for blocking Dortmund’s shots. Subs were brought in late, and it ended without Napoli following up on their start to the game.
Friendly (A) : Borussia Dortmund 5 - VfL Rhede 0
The final “easy” friendly was exactly that, a mostly dull affair unless you are a huge Marius Wolf fan. The recent Eintracht Frankfurt transfer, who finds himself firmly behind Christian Pulisic in the RW pecking order, got the start today and made the most of it.
Even with most of the primary starters sitting this one out or waiting to be subbed it, this game was all BVB. To be more specific, it was all Wolf. He started the scoring at 10’ and followed it up later at 21’ with a cracking shot from the top right of the penalty area that left fans in awe. Rhede’s day would basically be summed up when a Dortmund attack resulted in Marcel Gallus heading it into his own goal to send the visitors up 3-0 at the half.
The second half was more of the same, total domination by Dortmund until Wolf was tripped in the box trying to cut inside for a shot. He was allowed to take it and recorded his first hat trick for BVB. Going down 4-0 after 76’ seemed to be it for Rhede, and the rest of the game saw them sit back to try and stop the bleeding. They looked gassed at 84’ when Wolf tried to cut inside, this time the defender opted not to trip him, and the defense looked disinterested as he ran to the penalty spot and easily put in his fourth goal of the day.
The only real take away from this game was that Dortmund’s bench can beat a Landesliga Niederrhein side, which should be expected.
Friendly (H) : Lazio 0 - Borussia Dortmund 3
The final preseason game would cause quite a bit of excitement at the Westfalenstadion, but to be fair most of it was going on off the field. As fans will do when visited by a rising star, there was much talk of Dortmund signing central midfielder Sergej Milinkovic-Savic. With a valuation of £85M there was literally no chance Zorc would be able to finds the funds for this one.
“No,” said Zorc bluntly when asked before the game. “He’s a great player, but we haven’t even looked into it.”
Dortmund would have Lazio beat in overall depth, but they would have the upper hand in flashy talent that will likely leave in high priced deals. Milinkovic-Savic is the headliner, with CAM Luis Alberto and CF Ciro Immobile not far behind. All three would be on the field today, and Dortmund’s full starting roster would meet them in preparation for the DFB-Pokal opener.
Lazio’s fans would be disappointed very quickly, literally, in the first minute of the game. Lukasz Piszczek, the team’s elder statesman and vice-captain, would overlap Pulisic as he cut inside and receive the ball near the outside of the goal box before putting a speculative shot just inside the near goal post after bouncing off an embarrassed Thomas Strakosha. The game would continue on fairly even footing, with Alex Witsel blanking Milinkovic-Savic and Milan Badelj hanging on against Marco Reus in the middle. BVB did enjoy a more successful attack, managing to hold on to the ball against Lazio’s 3-5-2 despite the midfield advantage, and they finally broke things open off a corner. Reus’ in swinging kick from the left corner hit a Lazio defender and found Jadon Sancho just outside the goal box on the left, knocking it in to make it 2-0 was easy with Strakosha still trying to recover from the initial rebound.
The visitor’s body language was not good going into the locker room, and it wouldn’t get all that much better in the second half. Christian Pulisic would be a halftime sub with a bruised shin, making way for Marius Wolf who didn’t waste time putting Pulisic on notice again. At the 47’ mark he rushed into a void created when both central defenders closed in on Paco Alcácer trying to run down the middle with the ball. Alcácer tapped it back to Reus, who had all day on the ball, who found Wolf rushing in to take a shot with his first touch. Again Strakosha did his best but the ball caromed of his outstretched arm and found the side netting.
Lazio continued doing their best, but with BVB sitting back in a defensive 4-1-4-1 shape they only found a yellow wall and the game wound down for a Dortmund victory.