B-V-Briefing: A tough weekend loss but a crucial UEFA Champions League clash awaits

Borussia Dortmund fell to a narrow defeat against Stuttgart at home this past weekend, but will hope to recover quickly for their Champions League quarterfinal against Atletico Madrid.
Borussia Dortmund v Stuttgart - Bundesliga
Borussia Dortmund v Stuttgart - Bundesliga / Anadolu/GettyImages
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Borussia Dortmund hosted VfB Stuttgart on Saturday in what turned out to be a difficult to digest loss. BVB players wore commemorative jerseys in recognition of their stadium’s 50th anniversary. This was a home match against a team that had bested the Black and Yellows twice already this season, in both the Bundesliga and DFB-Pokal. This had the makings of a win, and I believe BVB played for the win and deserved at least a draw, but that’s the way this sport goes sometimes and Stuttgart left the Westfalenstadion with all three points.

This was not a typical tactical setup from Edin Terzic, even though the starting XI looked like a park-the-bus lineup. BVB pushed for a breakthrough throughout the game, accumulating a higher xG than their opponents in the process. But these statistics are sometimes flawed - BVB had a much lower xG last weekend than Bayern despite the win. There have been plenty of wins this season where the entire squad looked flat but somehow ground out a win. On Saturday, however, Borussia Dortmund kept fighting and creating chances. I think it’s unfortunate nobody could convert a chance into a goal.

I want to highlight the performance of Karim Adeyemi as the young German has obviously been training hard this Rückrunde. His speed is its own tactic as he can tear up the pitch at times, unparalleled in acceleration. A Karim Adeyemi who can control the ball is an exceptionally dangerous player. Likewise, Mats Hummels and Nico Schlotterbeck performed well again as a defensive pairing. I even thought Emre Can had a good game… minus that one play.

In a match like this one, it’s the fine margins that make the difference. Stuttgart’s only goal came from a multitude of errors. For one, Emre Can misplaced his pass directly to the opposition who immediately started their counter-attack. Once Jamie Leweling had the ball on the wing, he was able to find the unmarked Serhou Guirassy who wasn’t going to miss from that range. To block Leweling’s cross, Julian Brandt tracked back but failed. The ball went through a large empty space as Emre Can was out of position, then Mats Hummels and Nico Schlotterbeck back peddled to become obstacles, but neither stepped forward to mark Guirassy. If we let a player like that have a free shot on goal, they’ll score four out of five times. In fact, I think Julian Ryerson was the only BVB player who read this situation well, marking Deniz Undav as play entered the box.