RB Leipzig 1-3 Borussia Dortmund, Red Bull Arena
(Sorloth 90′ — Sancho 55′, Haaland 70′, 84′)
Borussia Dortmund really don’t do first halves this season. But thankfully for interim coach Edin Terzic, they do have players capable of being prolific at the top level.
After breaking an unusual goalscoring drought last weekend, Jadon Sancho stroked home a smartly-worked opener then delivered the cross that allowed Erling Haaland to nod home his 11th goal in 10 league appearances.
The Norwegian settled matters late on, rounding the keeper after a cute reverse pass from Marco Reus. Between them, Sancho and Haaland have scored 43 goals in their last 70 Bundesliga appearances.
The loss of Timo Werner, the only man capable of putting up those sort of goalscoring numbers for RB Leipzig, was keenly felt on Saturday, as Leipzig failed the latest examination of their title-winning credentials.
Leipzig’s central front players, Yussuf Poulsen and Emil Forsberg, have notched 54 goals in five years and 220 combined appearances since promotion in 2016-17. Though both have their own qualities, it’s clear neither is a true goalscorer.
Though the numbers don’t tell the whole story, and were far from the only reason for Dortmund’s win, the lack of a cold-blooded penalty box predator must now be troubling Julian Nagelsmann, who admitted his side “lacked punch in the final third.”
Alexander Sorloth’s goal, an injury-time consolation, was the striker’s first in 10 Bundesliga attempts. The Red Bull-backed side have scored 20 goals fewer than Bayern and the same total (26 in 15 games) as 11th-placed Stuttgart.
Haaland gets it done
So far, they’ve found a way, more often than not, by relying on a talented and disciplined defense. But with Poulsen consistently losing his battles with Mats Hummels, Leipzig were playing a dangerous game allowing their visitors to grow in to the contest.
Haaland, Reus and Sancho combined for the opener and at least two of the trio were involved in both subsequent goals. Though Reus is still not quite at his best, the individual ability of that trio means Dortmund always pose a significant threat.
Players like Haaland don’t come along often, and they rarely appear in January, but Saturday night’s display must prompt some serious thought from Nagelsmann. Dani Olmo’s solo strike on to the post aside, Leipzig didn’t work Roman Bürki at all.
“We were the better team in the first half, but if we don’t create any clear chances then you can have as much of the ball as you want,” lamented Poulsen after the game.
Words spark change
Though another tepid first-half display will likely be of concern to Terzic, who has now won three of his four league games in charge, Dortmund looked like a different side after the break. However, there remains a nagging concern that his side are reliant on individuals rather than a cohesive tactical plan. But midfielder Emre Can insisted the new man is making his presence felt.
“We were more aggressive in the second half, we brought more intensity, ” he told Sky. “I think the win was huge for us today. We played a different system, a totally different one. He [Terzic] prepares us really well for the game. He found the right words at the break.”
As convincing a win as this was for Dortmund, the tendency to play only after the interval is clearly also a discussion point for BVB. “We know our strengths and perhaps we have to show it consistently across 90 minutes,” said Marco Reus afterwards.
It’s apparent that Dortmund’s strength lies up front, in stark contrast to their opponents. If either truly want to take advantage of Bayern Munich’s (by their standards) patchy form, they could perhaps do worse than take notes from each other.
+++ As it happened +++
Dortmund get a huge win thanks to an impressive second-half performance with superb goals. Jadon Sancho is back, Erling Haaland scored two and Marco Reus played the best he has in a long, long time. A big win for Terzic too.
90′ GOAL! 3-1 RB Leipzig (Sorloth) This will annoy Bürki, but it probably is what the home side deserves. Angelino hangs up a cross, Sorloth heads it home, Bürki makes a great save but Sorloth hammers the rebound home. His first Bundesliga goal, but nothing more than something for pride.
84′ GOAL! 3-0 Dortmund (Haaland) RB going for a goal was always going to mean more space at the back. Reus exploits it to feed Haaland, who rounds Gulacsi to tuck in and finish this one off. That’s 25 goals in 25 Bundesliga games. Crazy. Sancho and Reus replaced by Tigges and Brandt.
81′ One for the collectors right there. Haaland and Upamecano come together after Reus put the Norwegian through and Upamecano just bosses him off the ball. “We are too passive. We have to do more. It’s too easy at the moment,” Hummels says. If RB get one…
77′ Big block from Upamecano to deny Reus what looked a certain third. RB Leipzig’s heads have dropped a bit. Dortmund can finish them here. Nagelsmann calling to win the second ball but his side are struggling to win the first.
75′ Something changed at the break for Dortmund, that is for sure. A really mature performance in the second half, full of quality too. Can they hold on?
72′ GOAL! 2-0 Dortmund (Haaland) That might be that. Haaland dances past three, four RB players before setting Sancho throug. After exchanging passes with Guerreiro, Sancho floats a gorgeous ball to the back post where Haaland heads home. A great move.
70′ Delaney is done, Zagadou replaces him. He goes to left back, Guerreiro moves more offensive and Reyna moves into the middle. Terzic mixing it up. Nagelsmann opts for Hwang to replace Haidara. Changes for both sides as we prepare for the final 20 minutes.
67′ POST! The game has come alive now. Leipzig work it around the area and Olmo gets some space on the right, drills it low towards the far corner and it cannons off the post. So close!
65′ CROSSBAR! Sancho again at the heart of it all, releasing Haaland who smashes it goalwards. Gulacsi tips it onto the bar. What a save, but might the far corner have been the better option? We’ll never know.
63′ Sabitzer and Forsberg make way for Sorloth and Klostermann as Nagelsmann rolls the dice. Two up top now. “Vamos Dani, vamos, vamos” calls RB Leipzig’s coach from the sideline. His side need something but they still have a while to figure it out. Problem is, Dortmund look better – for the moment.
58′ Dortmund in full flow now. A great move sees Guerreiro cut in from the left, pull it back for Sancho who somehow finds Haaland in the box. His shot is blocked though. Minutes later, Dortmund spread it again but Guerreiro fires Can’s cut back over.
55′ GOAL! 1-0 Dortmund (Sancho) Ask and you shall receive! From a throw in, Reus sends Haaland down the right and he delivers the perfect cutback, via a flick from Reus (who knows if he meant it?) for Sancho at the back post who tucks it home at the near post. Very tidy goal, and a huge one for Dortmund.
55′ Poulsen is in the thick of it here, getting tackled all over the place. Delaney, already on a yellow, gets away with it. “Every time we break, it’s the same crap,” comes Nagelsmann’s voice in the background. Frustration beginning to show. Can races miles back to win the ball off Haidara – strong. One clear chance wins this game I think.
49′ CHANCE! What’s this? A chance. Leipzig misplace a pass going forward, Dortmund break, Sancho slips in Reus and he forces a save. From the corner, Can heads over. Take one of those chances and that blows the game open.
46′ Dortmund get us restarted. Goals in this one? Hope so.
It has been a tactical and a tad physical first half but chances in front of goal have been few and far between. Who has had the better half? Also hard to say. RB looked more in control for the opening 20 or so but then the game settled in midfield a bit. Work to do for this to become the thriller it was billed.
43′ Is this the closest Erling Haaland has got to the ball? Not quite, but nearly. RB have even stopped the long ball. Sancho slips a great ball through to Reus but his cross is blocked. Might he have shot there? A rare moment of excitement in the box.
37′ After over 30 minutes of sparring, it is fair to ask whether this game is just not as exciting as we thought it might be? Feels like one goal will win it. Can and Sancho show quick feet in two separate attacks but both times it fizzles out.
31′ Witsel cannot continue, looks like it might be his Achilles’ heel and if so that would be bad news. Emre Can is on and into midfield, a spot he is probably best at but hasn’t played in a while. Dortmund roam forward, but Upamecano deals with Meunier’s low cross.
29′ Adams gets a low cross in that causes problems but Dortmund escape. They try to launch an attack in response but nothing comes, Delaney guilty of trying to do too much. Witsel takes a knock and is done. Terzic calls over Reyna and Sancho for 10 seconds, and says that whatever is happening at the moment isn’t working.
24′ Some fancy footwork from Forsberg opens up a chance that ends with Angelino’s cross somehow evading a teammate. Olmo looking better and better. RB starting to exert more pressure.
21′ Haven’t mentioned it yet but was just reminded by colleague that the tempo of this game is really high. Sancho told to keep holding his spot, Hummels stepping out of the back line to win the ball, Meunier struggling with Angelino. The chess match continues.
15′ “Choose the situation boys, we don’t have to press every ball,” comes the shout from Terzic on the sidelines. Haaland then laments Hummels for not playing him in sooner. “Mats, play, play!” shouted the Norwegian. Feels more like listening in on the radio than watching at the moment. Football during a pandemic eh?
12′ Hummels is trying to make something happen but Dortmund struggling to do play it out the back let alone start an attack. RB very disciplined off the ball. With no fans, you can really here Terzic and Nagelsmann shouting instructions now and again as the game unfolds. Tense and tight early on here.
7′ Haaland dives in a bit too keenly and gives away a free kick in midfield. Dortmund are certainly not shirking from the tackle so far. Meunier not looking good early, which will be no news to regular Dortmund viewers.
4′ Terzic, as is becoming customary, is already doing a lot of talking on the sidelines. Leipzig pressing high, flooding the edge of Dortmund’s area as they try to play it out. It is going to be a challenge to deal with that all game.
1′ We are off and underway.
Not long now
The pre-match hugs and handshakes are done. The teams are in the tunnel, well first Dortmund are and then Leipzig will be because of the world we live in.
Edin Terzic – pre-match interview to Sky:
On his chances of being the coach after this season: “It’s not a topic at all. We want to achieve a lot for the rest of the season and who am I to know what will happen in the summer?”
“RB are strong defensively, don’t concede many goals, and are variable in attack. If we only talked about RB’s strengths then we would have spent all week watching their tape. We are not here to congratulate them in advance. We want to show our strengths too.”
Julian Nagelsmann – pre-match interview to Sky:
“That bit more mental strength can decide the game tonight. I hope the better team wins.”
“I’m annoyed I said in the presser earlier in the week that ‘I was planning for the win’ because I didn’t mean it like that and it was misinterpreted. I meant we are going to be courageous.”
“Tyler (Adams) might prefer to play in holding midfield but we have to improvise at right back a bit. He’s a great character so I know he will give it his all.”
“Upamecano is an exceptional defender. I think he will do well today, but it’s also normal that the defense will allow chances. The key is that we score one more goal than them.”
Good evening. After Bayern Munich’s loss on Friday night the door is open for RB Leipzig to take top spot. The teams are in.
Julian Nagelsmann has no Kevin Kampl but the team doesn’t look weaker. Dortmund look strong but all eyes on whether that midfield pivot is dynamic enough. Moukoko is on the bench.
RB Leipzig XI: Gulacsi – Angelino, Orban, Upamecano, Halstenberg – Sabitzer, Haidara, Adams – Olmo, Forsberg, Poulsen
Borussia Dortmund XI: Bürki – Guerreiro, Hummels, Akanji, Meunier – Delaney, Witsel – Reyna, Reus, Sancho – Haaland
While Dortmund are back to almost full strength – only Jude Bellingham and Thorgan Hazard are doubtful – RB Leipzig have a few injury problems to contend with. Benjamin Henrichs, Christopher Nkunku, Ibrahima Konate and Nordi Mukiele are all out, while Justin Kluivert remains a doubt after missing the last three games. And with Konrad Laimer out for the season with a knee problem, coach Julian Nagelsmann has had to rely on reinforcements of late. However, new Leipzig signing Dominik Szoboszlai will be included in the Leipzig squad fort he first time following his move from Leipzig’s sister club RB Salzburg.
This will be the sides‘ ninth meeting, with the scales tipped in Dortmund’s favor in their previous meetings. Dortmund have won four times, Leipzig twice, with two draws. Perhaps more tellingly, Dortmund have had the better of their recent encounters, with Leipzig winless against Dortmund in their last five attempts. Leipzig’s last win against BVB came in October 2017.
Player focus: Dani Olmo
The 22-year-old forward is starting to find his feet at RB Leipzig coming the fore under Julian Nagelsmann in recently months. Olmo scored the only goal in Leipzig’s last game – a 1-0 win at Stuttgart – and has five assists to his name already this season. Dortmund need to be wary of the threat the Spaniard possesses.
RB Leipzig have kept a clean sheet in their last four Bundesliga matches.
From the coaches’ mouth: Julian Nagelsmann
“I think it’s really important that we continue with the good defensive performances that we’ve shown recently. That will be an important key to success. My team has unbelievable character and incredible willpower. I get the feeling that that’s not going away any time soon.”
From the coaches’ mouth: Edin Terzic
“January sets the trend for the rest of the Bundesliga season. You can quickly influence the table situation against direct competitors, which is why the match on Saturday is very important.”
Possible line-up: RB Leipzig
Gulacsi – Adams, Orban, Upamecano, Halstenburg – Olmo, Kampl, Sabitzer – Haidara, Forsberg, Angelino
Possible line-up: Dortmund
Bürki – Meunier, Akanji, Hummels, Guerreiro – Delaney, Witsel – Sancho, Reus, Reyna – Haaland