Borussia Dortmund’s display at home against a helpless Borussia Monchengladbach is the kind of football that fans at the Westfalenstadion dream of every match day.
Few adjectives can best describe the match as it is one of those moments that a loyal BVB fan will live to remember.
A hat-trick from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, a brace from from Maximilian Philipp and the first Bundesliga goal for Julian Weigl helped put to bed one of the German juggernauts.
Was this display a warning shot to Bayern Munich and other likely title contenders that Dortmund are gunning for the title?
With Bayern Munich drawing at home to Wolfsburg on Friday evening, this was a chance for Dortmund to pull ahead and Peter Bosz was definitely happy about this display.
It is this kind of football that earned him a lot of praise while at Ajax and Dortmund will be extremely happy to have a coach interested in winning games, but not at the expense of entertainment.
This was definitely a perfect warm up match for the upcoming Champions League match against Real Madrid.
The return of Julian Weigl
Before kick-off, a light weight Dortmund midfield would have been a cause of concern for most fans with Julian Weigl, Mario Gotze and Mahmoud Dahoud preferred to the reliable Nuri Sahin, Gonzalo Castro, and the efficient Shinji Kagawa.
However, the three players seized the chance to showcase why they should be selected for every match with tireless work rate putting the Monchengladbach defence under constant pressure.
It also marked the first time this season that three starting midfielders completed a whole match for Dortmund, signifying their importance in Saturday’s win.
The win was Dortmund’s fifth in the league from six games played so far this season having scored 19 goals and only conceding once.
It was the first time that Dortmund conceded a goal in the Bundesliga this season and continued their 41-match unbeaten home run.
To put this win into context, Dortmund were surely the better team of the two. They had over 79% ball possession and a total of 18 shots, nine of which were on target [67% conversion rate].
To imagine that Aubameyang also hit the post three times and yet still managed to get a hat-trick demonstrates how effective Dortmund were in this match.
The first, third, and fifth goals were courtesy of defence splitting passes by Julian Weigl, Sokratis Papastathopoulos, and Mahmoud Dahoud that caught the Monchengladbach defence napping.
Sweet pull backs in the 18-yard box gave the Dortmund forwards a chance to put the ball beyond reach of the opponent’s goalkeeper Tobias Sippel, who was having a nightmare the whole game.
Before the first goal by Philip in the 27th minute, Dortmund had already had five chances to score with Gladbach only having a single chance from the lively Thorgan Hazard from the right wing.
Philipp or Reus? Weigl or Sahin?
The game also demonstrated the growing cohesion between Philipp and Aubameyang, who were constantly putting the Gladbach defence under pressure.
Will the return of Marco Reus in the near future spoil this cohesion? Will Peter Bosz go for what’s established or what’s currently working so well for Dortmund?
These are questions that Dortmund will have to deal with as the season progresses and Bosz will have to make these critical decisions to ensure his team does not fall off the title race a long the way.
The other battle that Bosz has to deal with is who’s his team’s main defensive midfielder. While Weigl demonstrated his importance in this match, we cannot ignore the contribution of Nuri Sahin in the first five games.
At 22, Weigl appears to be a complete midfielder, but he still lacks the aggression of a combative presence.
The way Thorgan Hazard went past him for Gladbach’s only goal in the game is an area he needs to address. This is what Nuri Sahin can offer and the manager has to decide how he keeps both midfielders happy.
Another major test
Well, the midweek Champions League game against Real Madrid will be another chance for Dortmund to demonstrate to their fans their title credentials.
A win against Madrid will surely give the fans hope of qualification to the last-16 out of a very tough group. Indeed, Dortmund’s first match, a 3-1 loss to Tottenham, was not one of their very best displays and will need to up their tempo in the second game.
The high defensive line, which is one of Bosz’s trademark, will surely be put to test by the pacy Madrid front three.
If Dortmund can pass this test, then they have two easy matches against Apoel Nicosia that should ease their qualification to the next round.
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