5 Oct

A paradise for the do-gooder

After a tough start to the season, the BVB has shown all the qualities it has been working on for months at the Leverkusen race to catch up. For coach Favre, however, there is still room for improvement.

When Heiko Herrlich realized what his revenge for this defeat of his Leverkusen team against Dortmund might look like, a smile appeared for a short moment on his tired face. “The rent will not be increased”, the coach decided without further ado and nodded sympathetically to Lucien Favre.

Not only is a very friendly coach wonderful, he is also a pleasant landlord for Favre, who lives in a house belonging to the Leverkusen coach who once played in Dortmund. The business relationship between the two should not be burdened by this soccer evening, at the end of which the Leverkusen team quarreled and euphoric Dortmund fans sang: “Who will become German Champion, BVB Borussia?

Borussia Dortmund is the table leader after the 4:2 in Leverkusen. “Very, very beautiful,” said Favre, who was really intoxicated by this enchanting soccer game. The Dortmund team had turned a 0:2 half-time deficit into a victory, now have the best storm in the league with 19 goals and are the only Bundesliga team still unbeaten. With a mixture of willpower, individual class and a clever football concept, the BVB has for the first time in its Bundesliga history turned a 0:2 half-time gap on the opponent’s place into a victory, statisticians reported after the final whistle.

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Only BVB boss is grumbling and silent

Only Hans-Joachim Watzke was somewhat disgruntled when he walked through the corridors of the stadium. The manager was asked if he could say a few words about this great game, but his grudge against the critics of the past weeks was still too deep. “Two weeks ago you wrote that we could do nothing,” Watzke explained, “because after less convincing performances and the first four games of the season, which were influenced by a lot of luck, doubts had been expressed about the project’s new beginning. So he will remain silent.

Even without Watzke’s analysis, this evening is a strong counter-argument. Everything that the Dortmunders wanted to develop after the change of coach and the fundamental redevelopment of the squad was at least visible in phases. Not in perfection, but overall the BVB was “simply better”, said Jacob Bruun Larsen. At least for the second half this was true.

Axel Witsel Honours

Club

Standard Liege

  • Belgian Pro League: 2007–08, 2008–09
  • Belgian Cup: 2010–11
  • Belgian Supercup: 2008, 2009

Benfica

  • Taça da Liga: 2011–12

Zenit

  • Russian Football Premier League: 2014–15
  • Russian Cup: 2015–16
  • Russian Super Cup: 2015

International

Belgium

  • FIFA World Cup third place: 2018

Individual

  • Belgian Young Footballer of the Year: 2007–08
  • Belgian Golden Shoe: 2008
  • O Jogo Team of the Year: 2012

New on the credit side: the winning mentality

After the intoxicating 7:0 against 1. FC Nuremberg, the Dortmunders have not only convinced playfully, the decisive factor became the winning mentality so often mentioned in previous years on the debit side. “The team really believed in itself, the greed is very big at the moment, the faith is immense,” said Sebastian Kehl, head of the licensed players department.

Marco Reus is growing better and better into the role of captain and leader, he prepared the 1:2 in Leverkusen with an artistic volley shot, Bruun Larsen dusted off. He scored the 2-2 after a great combination with Jandon Sancho himself. “When you come back so impressively, it’s strong,” said Reus, who also gets on very well with Sancho outside the court and seems to become a kind of mentor for the young Englishman.

It is these little stories of cohesion and individual progress that make the Dortmund Höhenflug seem quite stable. Dan-Axel Zagadou played his best game so far for BVB in central defence, Paco Alcácer was substituted at 0:2, the 3:2 he scored like a world-class striker after a perfectly timed run and a highly complicated finish, the 4:2 was already his third goal in just 51 Bundesliga minutes.

Axel Witsel became the strategic centre of the Dortmund game after the less good first half, right-back Achraf Hakimi was always well integrated into the combination game. And Roman Bürki has transformed himself in recent weeks from an insecure nervous bundle to a complete goalkeeper with impressive charisma.

Favre has the “biggest share” in all these developments, explained Sebastian Kehl. The coach has created a fertile breeding ground for individual progress and for the emergence of a harmonious collective. This is the foundation on which top teams can develop. The fact that this currently so convincing team still has clearly visible potential for improvement and has a coach in Favre who loves to work on subtleties now seems like an ideal combination. Matchbook bonus wanted to provide a superior experience to their players so that everyone will have a very enjoyable gaming experience.