Opinion: Borussia Dortmund’s win over Freiburg far more narrow than scoreline suggests

FREIBURG IM BREISGAU, GERMANY - SEPTEMBER 16: Mats Hummels of Borussia Dortmund applauds during the Bundesliga match between Sport-Club Freiburg and Borussia Dortmund at Europa-Park Stadion on September 16, 2023 in Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany. (Photo by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images)
FREIBURG IM BREISGAU, GERMANY - SEPTEMBER 16: Mats Hummels of Borussia Dortmund applauds during the Bundesliga match between Sport-Club Freiburg and Borussia Dortmund at Europa-Park Stadion on September 16, 2023 in Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany. (Photo by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images) /

Borussia Dortmund managed to get away with a 4-2 win against Freiburg, but the scoreline does very little to describe Die Schwarzgelben‘s performance.

Another match day has come and gone for Borussia Dortmund, with the Black and Yellows coming away with all three points away to SC Freiburg. While the scoreline at the end was a 4-2 in favor of  Edin Terzić and his players, it does very little to paint an accurate picture of what transpired at the Stade Europa-Park.

There’s two very distinct takeaways from this game. On one hand, Borussia Dortmund managed to get all three points away from home whilst facing a tough opponent; Freiburg have been far from slouches under the tutelage of Christian Streich. They have been known to cause problems for many a team in the Bundesliga, Dortmund included. Freiburg very much took the game to Dortmund after a Mats Hummels header gave the visitors the lead. The inclusion of Vincenzo Grifo gave Freiburg a set piece outlet, which clearly remains Dortmund’s perennial kryptonite. Dortmund had to claw their way back into the game, finding parity through Donyell Malen, and pushing on for a win courtesy of goals from Mats Hummels and Marco Reus. The red card Freiburg picked up gave Dortmund an opening, and they capitalized on their numerical advantage.

If Dortmund’s previous results against the likes of Bochum and Heidenheim had gone differently, perhaps we would be looking at this result in such a positive light. The fact of the matter remains that, on the other hand, Dortmund once again put themselves in a position from which they needed to fight back. The game started rather well for Dortmund in the sense that they were doing their best to match Freiburg’s physicality and energy on the pitch, taking their opponents seriously and controlling the game. After scoring the goal via Hummels however, Freiburg were completely let back into the game, and Dortmund seemed to take a step back and almost looked like they had forgotten how they had been playing just mere moments before. Its a characteristic trait for Dortmund to take the foot off the pedal once a lead has been established, and under the upped tempo of urgency that came from the home Freiburg after the opening goal was scored, Dortmund’s grip on the game went almost completely slack.

The goals scored by Freiburg, as mentioned, were the result of two very well worked instances of play by Vincenzo Grifo, but the chances themselves were presented to Freiburg on a silver platter. A foul outside of the box perpetrated by Karim Adeyemi was enough for Grifo to step up and capitalize on for the second goal, for example. He was able to work the ball into the box perfectly, and Nicolas Höfler put it past Gregor Kobel with a header. There were other fouls throughout the game, such as Marius Wolf’s tackle on the edge of the penalty area, that gave Freiburg even more opportunities to extend their lead. The fouls themselves showed a lack of concentration on both player’s parts, which inevitably put their teammates in hot water.

Then there is of course the actual way the goals were dealt with. The first was a very good ball from open play into the box that took a bounce, getting past Kobel and his defenders. There wasn’t enough pressure on Lucas Höler in this situation, but the way the ball went into the net is passable  at least from Kobel’s standpoint; it would have been very hard to keep it out the way it was traveling. The second goal however, foul aside, is far more defendable. Once again, not enough pressure is put on Höfler in this situation and he is able to connect with the ball despite being in between two Dortmund defenders. Some additional defensive commitment from Sebastien Haller in this situation would have been required to put Höfler off.

Aside from the defending, Mats Hummels also touched on a crucial aspect of the game, noting Dortmund’s lack of dominance action in midfield as something the team needs to continue to work on and rectify. Hummels highlighted that Dortmund have had trouble breaking down opposition pressing, and this was very apparent against Freiburg, who played a very physical game. After conceding the first goal, Freiburg upped their tempo and really came at Dortmund, in midfield especially. Forcing turnovers led to a slew of chances that Dortmund lacked answers for. It is a long-standing problem according to Hummels, and something that needs continued work if the team wishes to control games and “make the next step”.

Next. Borussia Dortmund player ratings from come from behind 4-2 win over SC Freiburg. dark

Dortmund will look to possibly build on this win with another good result against PSG in the Champions League this week. Dortmund have been placed in the very aptly named “group of death” this year, and will find no easy points along the way. It will be another away game, but despite the talent PSG have been able to accumulate this summer in their pursuit of squad improvement, they, like Dortmund, have had a tougher than expected start to their own domestic campaign. Drawing to both Toulouse and Lorient, coupled with their most recent loss to Nice could make them a favorable opponent for Dortmund if they remain focused. The likes of Kylian Mbappe, Ousmane Dembele and Randal Kolo Muani are likely to be less forgiving than Freiburg when presented with an opportunity on goal.