The Bundesliga leaders are averaging three goals each game this season, but are getting them from everyone on the pitch and their substitutes
Three things in life are certain: death, taxes and Borussia Dortmund scoring in the second half of games. The first two will catch up with you no matter how hard you try, while the third is inevitable if you’re taking on Lucien Favre’s side this season.
Dortmund have played 16 games in 2018-19, scoring in the second halves in 13 of those matches, with dominance after the break helping them become one of Europe’s most prolific sides.
In the Bundesliga, they are averaging three goals a game, but it is in the Champions League where they have really made their mark. A late Christian Pulisic strike was needed to take all three points against Club Brugge in their opening European game before they turned on the style with demolitions of Monaco and Atletico Madrid, scoring seven unanswered goals to take charge of their Champions League group, even accounting for their midweek defeat in Madrid.
Atletico were stunned by BVB’s attacking prowess in Dortmund, both on the pitch and off. Diego Simeone’s defence was supposedly the toughest in Europe, but Favre’s attack cut it apart time and again with another late flourish helping make the final score 4-0 in the German’s favour.
Unlike new arrival Favre, Simeone has been in charge of his team since 2011, but had never suffered such a heavy defeat during his seven-year tenure in La Liga. Dortmund’s attacking masterclass left a big impression on Simeone, who liked what he saw from his opponents.
“It was a clear result. We have to congratulate our opponent, they played a fast and attacking game,” Simeone told reporters. “They played very efficiently, very dynamically. The most important thing is to quickly use possession, and they did so wonderfully. They are doing very well at the moment, it is very nice to watch.”
Anyone who has watched Dortmund this season is familiar with their attacking efficiency. Unlike predecessor Peter Stoger, who built his team from the back outwards, Favre is focused on scoring more goals than the opponent – even if it means taking chances and leaving themselves exposed.
Favre has gotten the best out of new signings like Thomas Delaney and Axel Witsel in midfield, while on loan duo Paco Alcacer and Achraf Hakimi have added energy and excitement despite taking time to become first team regulars.
The coach spends a lot of time with his players individually, giving them advice on how to exploit opponents, working on improving their game, and most importantly developing a trust that was absent between the players and the last two bosses.
This can be seen on the training ground where Favre can be seen joking and laughing with the squad. When he is not drilling them on tactics, of course.
“It’s always good for a player to have a good plan,” Marco Reus told Der Tagespiegel . “Lucien Favre has a new plan for every game, and it’s always good.”
Witsel believes Dortmund’s attacking excellence is purely down to how Favre has his players performing, with the Belgium international flourishing at his new club despite the step up in quality of opponents from playing in Russia and China.
“It’s not an accident because if it’s an accident it happens only one time in one game,” Witsel told the Bundesliga’s official website. “But you know with our style of play, we have really talented players. Everybody, technically, is really good.
“Sometimes we take a lot of risks – from the goalkeeper also – but that’s our style of play. Like I’ve said before, we will not change it against anyone.”
Back in 2012 when he left Favre behind at Borussia Monchengladbach, Reus hailed the Swiss coach, claiming “He’s the person from whom I’ve learned the most in my career.”
Six years later and the pair are re-united, but Reus is still learning and still improving along with his Dortmund team-mates. Youngsters Jadon Sancho and Jacob Bruun Larsen would probably not get a chance to play regularly at some of Europe’s other big clubs, but they are lighting up the Bundesliga and the Champions League with their performances.
Only PSG have a better goals-per-game average in Europe’s top five leagues this season, but with Neymar and Kylian Mbappe in their attack, goals should be a given against Ligue 1 opponents. Manchester City and Juventus have Sergio Aguero and Cristiano Ronaldo banging in the goals, but Dortmund’s have come from everywhere.
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Favre’s tactical tweaks and astute advice to his substitutes mean that 14 different players have scored league goals for Dortmund so far this season – and Atletico destroyer Raphael Guerreiro isn’t even one of them!
Such displays see them top the Bundesliga table heading into Saturday’s Klassiker with Bayern Munich. With a four point gap to their old rivals, this is the first time since Jurgen Klopp’s team won the title in 2011-12 that Dortmund will kick-off against the Bavarians while above them in the standings. Given some of the under-par showings from Niko Kovac’s side this season, do not be surprised if that gap is extended to seven before the international break.
Death and taxes are certain, but if you’re not paying attention to Dortmund’s attack yet, maybe it’s time to get on board now before they kill your side too.