It is Matchday Two in the UEFA Champions League and defending Primeira Liga champions Sporting travel to Signal Iduna Park to face German heavyweights Borussia Dortmund.
For this edition of A View From the Opposition, Próxima Jornada caught up with commentator, presenter and all-round Bundesliga expert Derek Rae. Best known for his work as the lead voice on Bundesliga for ESPN, his commentary on EA Sports’ FIFA series and the DFL World Feed, Derek provides us with some brilliant insight into Dortmund and what Sporting can expect from Marco Rose’s men tomorrow night.
“Dortmund have started the season…decently; they have actually been spectacular in certain matches but have underwhelmed in a couple of others. The main thing with Dortmund is this season is this recipe of scoring a lot of goals but conceding too many as well, I think that is how to sum them up, perhaps simplistically.”
Dortmund have one of the leakiest defences in the Bundesliga so far this season, conceding 12 in just 6 matches. To put that into context, only Hertha (18) and the bottom two clubs Bocum (13) and Fürth (16) have conceded more in the league.
“So far this season they’ve lost in Freiburg (2-1), they also disappointingly lost in Gladbach this past weekend (1-0). It was a physical game which they didn’t really adapt to. They’re chasing Bayern Munich, who don’t look like they will have too many problems this season under Julien Nagelsmann.”
“Their best game of the season so far is the 4-3 win away at Leverkusen. It was a real show of character. Dortmund found themselves behind constantly, going 1-0 down then 2-1 then 3-2, they then got the game back to 3-3 before winning it with an Erling Haaland penalty fairly near the end, which was his second goal of the match”
Strengths, Weaknesses and Possibly Missing Key Players?
“Dortmund are Erling Haaland dependent. He missed the game on the weekend through injury, as did club captain Marco Reus and when you rule out two players like those two, you find out a lot about a club. What we did find out on the weekend is that Dortmund do have their weaknesses when Haaland and Reus aren’t around. Gio Reyna has also been out for quite a while and that hasn’t helped matters. If Reus and Haaland are ruled out for the game, we could see young Donyell Malen and/or Youssoufa Moukoko feature.”
“The areas of strength going forward are certainly the attacking players, when we talk about Haaland we are talking about a once in a generation talent. If Haaland does play, something to look out for is that he’s become a more well-rounded striker. Last season, we saw him score lots of goals with his left foot but now we are also seeing goals with the right foot and goals with his head. He’s only getting better. I think in a few years time we will be talking about him as being one of the greatest strikers to play the game. Jude Bellingham has really kicked on this season, last season he was more of a sitting player, and a very good one at that, but now he seems to just do everything. He’s even added goals to his repertoire so he is definitely one to watch.”
Thomas Meunier was definitely a weak link last season and ended up losing his place but this season he has hit a bit of good form, his crossing of the ball has also improved and that is something to look out for.
The defence is their weakness and I think everybody who watches them would agree to that. It’s just a softness, it’s not as though they have weak individual players. Manuel Akanji had a good European Championships, Mats Hummels is an experienced old head who has recently came back from injury, Raphaël Guerreiro is a player who needs no introduction to your audience! He’s scored a couple of spectacular goals already this season. I think the main issue is that the defence switches off, there will be chances for Sporting, especially when it comes to the transitional moments in the game when possession changes hands and quick counter attacks can be launched.”
A big thanks to Derek Rae for giving us his expert insight into Borussia Dortmund, you can find Derek on ESPN, FIFA 22 as well @RaeComm on Twitter where you can keep up to date with his latest work.