Following their disappointing defeat at home to Bayern in midweek, Dortmund reminded viewers of just how lethal they can be going forwards as they ripped apart bottom of the league side Paderborn 6-1. Bundesliga minnows Paderborn hosted title-chasing Dortmund in the late kick off on Sunday evening, with the home side coming into the game a huge 9 points from survival, and their visitors 10 points behind their great rivals Bayern Munich with a game in hand. The big team news included the absence of injured Erling Haaland, the talisman of Dortmund’s young side, as well as Jadon Sancho being given his first start since the season recommenced earlier this month. With so much at stake for both sides, a fairly dull opening 45 minutes were played out before an astonishing 7 goals were netted after the break.
In the first half Dortmund toiled as they tried to break down the resolute defence of Paderborn, making short passes and quick one-twos as they looked to forge an opening. Yet it was their struggling opponents who were gifted the games first chance, Christopher Antwi-Adjej was left unmarked in the box in a good position but could only drag his shot wide. After that early scare, Thorgan Hazard managed Dortmund’s first shot on goal, powerfully running past his marker and blasting his shot goal-bound, forcing a save from the keeper. Dortmund were handed another chance as Antwi-Adjej made a poor pass on the right which was intercepted and led to a rapid counter-attack, with Sancho feeding Brandt, who in-turn laid the ball back to Guerreiro with just the keeper to beat. However, the Portuguese star’s cannon of a shot was deflected wide for a corner. With chances at a premium, forward Antwi-Adjej was a constant source of panic for the Dortmund defence as he constantly ran at them, managing to get off a further two shots before half time, with his third coming just before the break as he shot slightly over the bar following a determined run forwards. As the two teams left the field for the break, it was unclear who had the upper hand, with Dortmund clearly the dominant side in possession but looking shaky every time their opponents ventured out of their own half.
The first 15 minutes back after the interval were played in total contrast to the football that preceded it, with both teams playing with great intensity. Once again Antwi-Adjei was proactive in attacking Dortmund’s defence, but was unable to finish a very inviting cross from the left. A couple of quick fire chances fell for the visitors after that, Hakimi hitting a great shot having been teed up by Guerreiro, but Zingerle in the Paderborn net was more than equal to it, making a fantastic save, with Hummels heading over from the resulting corner. Soon after Dortmund had their crucial opener, with Hazard netting a tap in on the 54th minute following a weak save by Zingerle, who pushed the ball into the Belgian’s path following a shot from Emre Can. No sooner had they scored their first had Dortmund doubled their lead, Brandt played down the left hand flank before putting the ball on a plate for Sancho to tuck away his 18th goal of the season, dedicating it to the Justice for George Floyd movement. Paderborn thought they had reduced the deficit to a solitary goal only for their clever free kick routine to be ruled out for offside. The home side’s 15 minutes of dominance following Sancho’s goal finally showed as Hunemeier tucking away a penalty in the 72nd minute following a harsh handball call on Emre Can as he slid with his arm slightly raised to make a very close-range block. However, Dortmund rapidly re-established their 2 goal cushion, as Sancho burst into life, taking a beautiful touch from a Guerreiro ball into him in the box to take him away from his marker, before playing the ball out of his feet and sweetly curling it past Zingerle.
For 10 minutes after Sancho netted his second of the game, Dortmund looked to be closing the game out without any real attacking intent, seeming content with their two goal lead. However, in the 85th minute, right wing-back Achraf Hakimi was rewarded for his superb display with a goal, emphatically driving the ball low into the far corner following good work from substitute left wing-back Marcel Schmelzer. With that goal, the floodgates opened up, as Schmelzer found himself in the right place at the right time to bundle home Axel Witsel’s low cross from the right from six yards out, capping an amazing 10 minute cameo since entering the pitch in the 80th minute. There was still time for Sancho to inflict more misery on Paderborn and complete his first ever senior hat-trick, breaking away with Hazard to form a two-on-one opportunity before electing to have a go on goal rather than playing in his teammate. His decision paid off as he completed a brilliant day for his side and himself. Although the opposition were suitably weak to render any real conclusions from this game as obsolete, Dortmund seemed to have rediscovered their attacking flair, and maintained a degree of pressure on their illustrious title challengers.
As the teams trailed off for halftime, some casual Bundesliga observers could be forgiven for wondering what the hype for the young Jadon Sancho was all about. After failing to start the side’s first three games after the season restarted, he was very underwhelming in the opening 45 minutes as he floated freely, switching flanks as well as playing down the middle as he looked for openings. He looked understandably rusty in the opening period as he gave the ball away 6 times due to poor touches and being dispossessed. However, he looked like a man rejuvenated following his long awaited goal, an easy tap in which was much needed following his relatively dry spell. When he got going he was unstoppable. The creative hub of his side, he managed a staggering 5 key passes as well as successfully completing 3 dribbles (the most on the pitch in both areas), and he scored from all three of his shots on target. To watch him play you would realise how phenomenal his work rate is, as he always looked to run at defenders with the ball, as well as consistently wanting the ball at his feet no matter how much pressure he was under. He stepped up when he was needed most, with his side without injured talisman Haaland and looking dejected in the first half following their crushing defeat to Bayern, Sancho dragged them through this game. His second goal was particularly stunning, shimmying the ball around a crowd of three opponents before curling it in, and came when his side were under their first spell of sustained pressure as their lead was cut to a solitary goal. This was a performance that showed how badly Chelsea could do with him in our squad, as he netted his 15th, 16th and 17th league goals of the season to go with his 16 assists.
Achraf Hakimi played like a man possessed. Keen to show his quality following a torrid evening in the Bayern defeat, the Moroccan constantly bombed up and down the right flank, eager to start attacks for his team as well as foil those of the opposition. A beautiful goal towards the end of the game, the 21 year olds 5th of the season, added the gloss to a wonderful performance, his 4 tackles and interceptions impressive alongside his two dribbles and one key pass. Hakimi is clearly an attacking force to be reckoned with and if offloaded by parent club Real Madrid in the summer, he could be of interest to the Chelsea hierarchy as a right winger, a position we are sorely lacking depth in. In the end it was another world class display from the youngster who has clubs sitting up and taking notice across Europe.
Following up his incredible performance against Bayern was always going to be tough for Raphael Guerreiro who was largely anonymous against Paderborn. The Portuguese rarely threatened going forwards, failing to complete and dribble or a key pass, and was unable to make a single tackle or interception either. Poor both offensively and defensively, the highly rated left back’s highlight was a vicious shot which was deflected wide. It was not one of the elite displays we have come to expect from one of Europe’s premium left backs, who’s 10 goal contributions in the league this season make him one of his side’s danger men going forwards, but Chelsea would do well to keep tabs on the extremely talented Guerreiro.
After being hooked off at halftime in the Bayern defeat, Brandt was another Dortmund player with a point to prove, and played like one, with his 3 key passes and 3 dribbles making him his side’s second most threatening player after the unstoppable Sancho. Like Sancho, the German suffered in the first half, as he was frequently dispossessed (in the whole game he lost the ball a whopping 9 times), but after the break he was excellent, always drifting into space and looking to play the killer ball, which he succeeded in when running down the left and finding Sancho in a brilliant position to tap in Dortmund’s second. It was a strong performance from the technically gifted player, as he continues to show what a smart signing he was last summer.
As Eden Hazard has been forced to watch his new Real Madrid side from the touch line most of the season, following an injury blighted campaign, it has been his brother, Thorgan, making the headlines for the Hazard name. With a goal and an assist, the 27 year old former Chelsea man resumed his fine form this season. The Belgian used his terrifying pace to good effect, always playing off the shoulder off the last Paderborn defender on the right, looking to latch on to any through balls and causing havoc when he did so. His strong linkup play with Sancho was evident throughout, as was his intelligence as he made decoy runs to create space for others. His 3 dribbles showed his willingness to take on and beat his man, and two key passes reflected his ability to play clever balls in behind the Paderborn defence. We could have done with Thorgan at Chelsea this season, if only we hadn’t sold him…
As a neutral looking out for exciting prospects in this game, it was hard to unearth many from a very sub-standard Paderborn team. Mohamed Dräger, a 23 year old right back, looks an exciting prospect and has 3 assists in a very weak attacking side in only 14 starts in the league this season. However, he was unable to leave his half for most of the game and was completely overwhelmed by Sancho in the second half. Antwi-Adjei looked menacing in the first half but was unable to direct any of his three shots on target and for most of the second half he was simply a passenger as Dortmund ran away with the game.
With the Premier League’s imminent return bound to excite all of you, hopefully you will also be interested in the riches of talent on display in this game. With so many incredible players, it was Sancho who just about stood out, but will we see him at the Bridge next season? We can only hope. However, there are far more pressing issues in the world right now than football, and if you get a chance to reflect on the horrific treatment of African Americans by members of the police force in America (which has always been present but is now more visible than ever), I suggest that you take it. Let us hope that one day we can watch football in a world where we are all treated fairly and equally.
Written by Daniel New