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Borussia Dortmund

The Set: BVB v. Schalke 04

1. Assholes Anonymous

Hi my name is Rafinha and I am an asshole.

For a team that has some very likeable and fair-minded players in Neuer, Kuranyi and Westermann, there seems to be a need to offset it with a player like Rafinha. The sooner the fat Rafa from Liverpool buys little Rafa and takes his antics to a league, where such diving and cheating are highly valued, the better. I can’t wait for him to leave next summer.

First, he showed no respect to the club that pays his wages or the fans that fill the stadium so his wages will be paid by going to China when he had no right to do so. His constant need to get opposing players booked, usually for his simulation, is disgusting and blights the game. His reckless challenges to overcompensate for his poor defensive skills are going to get someone hurt. He deserved a second yellow for a foul on Kuba in the 77’. And his rabid attack on the referees after the game for the penalty should get him banned. But at least such disrespect for the refs will be appreciated in his next league.

Kuba was legitimately fouled twice, which led to red cards. One was on Pander and one was on Ernst. I am quite certain that Rafinha was more upset that Kuba was able to get two players shown the door than he was over losing.

2. Tinga

The substitution of Tinga for Hajnal was a masterstroke by Klopp. It changed the structure of the team and inevitably the game. All three goals followed Tinga’s entrance.

With Hajnal, Dortmund play more of a diamond midfield with Kehl as the DM, Hajnal as the AM and Kuba and Kringe as the wingers. But a diamond can sometimes suck the wingers into the channels, and this was the case against Schalke with Kuba and Kringe seeing little touch line delivery.

In addition, Hajnal directed traffic to the left. This wasn’t a bad tactic as Pander is a much stronger defender than Rafinha. It was obvious that they were trying to exploit that weakness. But it didn’t work as Lee is a right-footed left-back and Kringe is an artisan and not an artist. When you have someone like Kuba, you should play to your strength rather than your opponent’s weakness.

When Tinga came on he joined Kehl as a double pivot giving Kuba and Kringe license to spread wide. More important was that Tinga started directing traffic to the right. And Kuba became the key player in the game. The attack opened up when Tinga came on and Kuba, who had went missing after the 12th minute, started popping up in dangerous position constantly. He was part of the buildup for Frei’s goal, he was the recipient of two fouls that resulted in dismissals and he headed the ball that was deemed a handball on Krstajic.

3. 4-3-3

I think this formation could harm Schalke’s title hopes. Rutten played this Dutch tactic very defensively. Notice that the goals came on a penalty, a counter and goal mouth scramble. There was very little creativity in this side. They had 42% possession and four shots on goal.

By trying to play Farfan and Asamoah purely wide and playing three DM’s, he left Kuranyi to fend for himself in the middle. While Kuranyi was a tireless worker, the fact that Rutten wasn’t taking advantage of his biggest strength is diabolical. Kuranyi had few touches with his head and one of them created the third goal. And if you have two men wide, why weren’t they peppering the box with crosses? Meanwhile, his most creative player, Ivan Rakatic, was left on the bench.

It seems that Rutten isn’t the prototypical Dutch coach and will try to play the counter and win games 1-0. Is it any wonder that of the team’s nine goals this year, only 3 have been from non-defenders and one was on a penalty? It cost them against Atletico Madrid and it may well cost them in the league.

4. The Goals

Farfan (20) – It was clear cut penalty on Subotic.

Rafinha (39) – A beautiful tackle by Bordon set the stage for this great counter attack. Dortmund was clearly panicked by the first goal as they had too many in attack looking for an early equalizer. Hummels and Subotic were the only defenders remaining as Lee, Kringe, Rukavina and Kehl were caught forward as this counter came down from Schalke’s right. By the time Westermann passed to Rafinha, it was 4 on 2 with Lee trailing. That being said, Weidenfeller over-committed on his near post and left himself exposed at the far side. Had he positioned himself properly, he might have been able to handle this goal.

Westermann (54) – This goal was made by Kevin Kuranyi. With Weidenfeller charging, fist poised for Kuranyi’s face as the ball fell off the deflection, the German international stuck to the task and headed the ball across goal. Westermann was quicker to jump than Subotic and the game looked set at this point.

Subotic (67) – The marking on this set piece resembled a foosball table. Subotic had acres of space and to be perfectly honest nobody was marked in the box. Pander and Bordon were both five feet away from Subotic who was able to place the ball with no marking.

Frei (71) – It was a stunning shot from the edge of the box by Frie that curled into the top left corner. While it is debatable as to whether Frei was offside, when the pass came in from Tinga; what isn’t debatable is that defenders who quit the play because they expect a call should be playing in the Oberliga.

Frei (89) – It was a harsh penalty at best. It hit Krstajic in the upper arm as he was trying to avoid the ball.

5. An Unequivocal Answer

The last time I looked at Dortmund, I wondered how they would respond to a deficit, seeing as they are a young team. I think I know the answer now.

6. Forward Dortmund!

Frei cannot be at full fitness soon enough. He is too important with Klimowicz being a supersub and Zidan being awful.

While Mohamad Zidan is quick, lively and full of raw ability, he seems to be perpetually attached with the “potential” label. His first touch is abysmal. Only once in the dozen of times he received the ball did he do something useful with the ball. And that happened to be the one time his first touch on the ball was positive. If he can be taught how to direct the ball to set himself up, he can be a great forward. But at the moment, he should be behind Klimowicz in the pecking order.

The funny thing is that one of the people who might have been able to teach him how to apply said first touch is Martin Jol’s skills coach Ricardo Moniz.

7. An Odd Choice

When it comes to player of the year awards, it’s always skewed towards the attack minded players. I do hope that the powers that be consider Heiko Westermann this year, if he continues to impress. He can play competently at LB, RB, CB and DM. He can defend and he’s solid going forward. For a defensive player, he has a keen eye for goal and he seems willing to do anything to help the team. For a team that has injury prone players such as Jones, Pander, Engelaar and to a lesser extent Krstajic, his versatility is going to be invaluable.

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  1. DoublePivot

    September 16, 2008 at 5:20 pm

    Yes he had a pretty poor game. He seemed to hold a tense game together in the first half, but in the second he lost it. I didn't realize he had called the game 5 seconds early until I read Rafa's column in the Guardian. I thought it was odd enough that he didn't add time, but he obviously folded under the pressure of the biggest derby.

    The one thing I forgot to mention was how impressed I was with Fahrmann, who wasn't to blame for the goals. And he was under the same pressure as Lutz and was up to the challenge.

    Hope everything is well Jan

  2. Jan

    September 16, 2008 at 4:23 pm

    Have to disagree. There's nothing debatable about the offside decision and the penalty. Those were bad calls. But Rafinha should have been sent off twice and giving no overtime was also a call more in Schalke's than in Dortmund's favor, so it was a balanced but still awful performance by the ref.

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