Borussia Dortmund: Young Trickers, old recipe

Borussia Dortmund: Young Trickers, old recipe

In Dortmund, coach Lucien Favre once again proves how quickly he can stabilize an unsettled team. Jacob Bruun Larsen, 20, and Jadon Sancho, 18, are now trimming this football on show.


By Ulrich Hartmann, Dortmund

The Danish feeling of happiness means hygge, Danes take it when they go out into the world. The footballer Jacob Bruun Larsen, 20 years old, born near Copenhagen, was smiling in the night from Wednesday to Thursday at home in his bed in Dortmund, at least he had announced so. "I'll laugh a bit in bed," he said in his charming Danish tone, and one can only hope that was not a nuisance to the neighbors. In Dortmund anyway hardly anyone would call the police, if a footballer from the local club Borussia happily disrupted the nocturnal rest – certainly not if it was Jacob Bruun Larsen in extremely hyggeligem state.

The Dane is currently the star of the city, along with the Englishman Jadon Sancho. He is only 18 years old. The two boys are currently trimming BVB football. Dortmund are leaders in both the Bundesliga and the Champions League. To make it 3-0 against AS Monaco, Bruun Larsen scored his first Champions League goal in a 1-0 lead five minutes after his first substitution in a Champions League match and his first ever Champions League goal in added time to the 3-0 final score given. If you do not have to laugh a bit afterwards in bed, then something is wrong.

Eight of 25 Dortmund matches have scored a substitute. That speaks for quality in the team

The Dortmund have scored 25 goals in nine competitive games so far this season. That's a respectable odds, but even more remarkable is the fact that 18 of those 25 goals were scored in the second half, ten of them in the final ten minutes. The BVB heeded under his new coach Lucien Favre the basic rules of tension building and turns this curve like to late showdown. The most recent twelve Dortmund matches all fell in the second half: five against Nuremberg (7: 0), all four in Leverkusen (4: 2) and now all three against Monaco (3: 0).

If you ask Favre what this explicit strength and effectiveness of his team in the second half is probably, then he speaks first extensively and basically on the requirements of modern football, on high pressing, little space, athleticism and persevering ball rotation – and then decides the 60-year-old from French-speaking Switzerland, his monologue with a smile and the words: "Why the second half? Uh, yes, I do not know."

There are three good reasons: First, the patience of a Dortmund team that relies on their quality. Second, the rooms, which open up to the opponent, when BVB first time has scored the 1-0. And third, the substitutes. Eight of the 25 Dortmund matches were scored by substitute players and seven of the 22 assists came from them. By far the best of these so-called Joker is Sancho with seven goals after substitution: a goal and six assists. The Englishman has given these six assists on average only 17 minutes after his substitution. A footballer without a start – and that in his second season abroad.

Sancho is the youngest player in the BVB professional squad, followed at age 19 by Moroccan defender Achraf Hakimi and his French side man Dan-Axel Zagadou, as well as 20-year-old Bruun Larsen and American winger Christian Pulisic. "As far as these guys are concerned, euphoria is rife with us at the moment," says captain Marco Reus, who, at 29, is an old man by BVB standards. "Right now it's brutal what the boys are up to," Reus indulges, "Of course they all have tremendous potential, but what's important is that we have a plan, work hard, everyone does their job, and we're a very team-loving team right now well working."

This harmony has meant that BVB has lost none of his previous nine competitive matches. For Reus this is "not too surprising, because I know what our coach can do and what his philosophy looks like". Reus has experienced in Mönchengladbach seven years ago, how quickly an insecure team under Favre back to success, and exactly that is just repeated in Dortmund – only on a higher level.

Reus is not only captain Favre's most important man in the field, he is also Dortmund's top scorer with six goals and five assists across all competitions and has almost consistently played nine competitive matches. Only in the 7-0 against Nuremberg, he was replaced after 62 minutes.

He was "very good," Reus responded cheerfully to the question of his fitness and immediately stressed that he did not intend to pause in the last league game before the international break against Augsburg. "The last game I can go now," he said with a grin and kept the Dortmund recreational secret for himself: deep, regenerating sleep with a blissful smile on his face.

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