Borussia Dortmund vs. Stuttgart: 5 Things We Learned

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Borussia Dortmund vs. Stuttgart: 5 Things We Learned
Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Borussia Dortmund fired their way to the top of the Bundesliga (until Bayern Munich's weekend fixture at least) with a 6-1 home hammering of Stuttgart at the Westfalenstadion.

Robert Lewandowski (3), Marco Reus, Sokratis and Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang netted as Juergen Klopp's side came from behind to run away from their visitors.

Here's a look at five things we learned from Friday night's Bundesliga offering:

 

Could Borussia Dortmund Be More Clinical?

It sounds silly to say such a thing when a side have just romped to a 6-1 home win, but this performance only underlined that maybe Dortmund could be more clinical in the final third.

Friday night, they had 16 attempts on goal, according to WhoScored.com, and while that means they have a 37 percent conversion ratio, it only really tells half the story.

Because, remarkably, considering the utter domination from the home side in the opening half, they only went in 2-1 at half-time; it should have been four or five.

Stuttgart, throughout, were there for the taking, but during the first period, they gave away possession in their own half on numerous occasions, and BVB created final-third overloads at least three or four times. However, all too often, either the final pass, or the final choice to dribble/shoot, was the wrong one, and opportunities were squandered.

Certainly, it's hypercritical, and considering the clinical edge shown by Lewandowski during the second period—though he himself was guilty of one ridiculously poor scooped effort in the first half—but in games of tighter margins in the future (Bayern Munich are on the horizon) such waste could come back to bite BVB.

 

Robert Lewandowski Will Be a Hard Act to Follow

All the signs at the Westfalenstadion point towards Die Borussen's Polish hitman being away when his contract reaches its conclusion at the end of the season.

And Friday night's three-goal showing has only furthered the question: What the hell will Dortmund do when he does?

Mike Hewitt/Getty Images
The Pole's treble demonstrated his poaching ability in and around the penalty box. But his all-round performance showed, once again, just how complete a forward Lewandowski is.

His hold-up and link play was exceptional as always, with great appreciation for midfield runners. The movement across the line was intelligent, his touch and passing crisp. Allied with his three goals, it was the complete striking show.

But when he departs for pastures new next summer, just how can Dortmund hope to replace him? Certainly, they have options, but Julian Schieber flatters to deceive, while Aubameyang is a very different type of forward, his game more geared to utilising his explosive pace.

If BVB want a like-for-like striker, who can fit seamlessly into their XI straight away, it'll cost, and in all likelihood, such a player simply won't be available—clubs don't just sell players who are that good for anything like a reasonable figure.

Best hope Juergen Klopp has an ace up his sleeve for the summer of 2014.

 

Sokratis a Capable Deputy

Having arrived from Werder Bremen in the summer, the 25-year-old defender has been rotated during the Bundesliga, thus far, with both first-choice central defenders Mats Hummels and Neven Subotic.

Friday night, the Greek international started alongside Hummels and, once again, didn't let anyone down.

It was Sokratis who headed the Champions League runners-up level after they'd fallen behind, and from then on, he was at his most tenacious and intelligent.

Solid and dependable, strong and resilient, Sokratis kept Vedad Ibisevic so quiet that he effectively had to take the Bosnian international out of his pocket when the Stuttgart striker was substituted after 68 minutes.

When £8.3 million was splashed out on the defender during the summer, perhaps, a few eyebrows were raised, what with Thomas Schaaf's Bremen having conceded more than all but Hoffenheim in last season's Bundesliga. Certainly, it looks a sound investment at the moment.

 

Stuttgart's Naive Defending

"So open Stuttgart it's embarrassing" said BT Sport commentator Owen Hargreaves just after Aubameyang put BVB 6-1 up, and it pretty much summed up the away side defensively.

Nominally, they appeared to be in a 4-2-3-1 formation, but they were just ridiculously easy to play through throughout. The central midfield pivot of Christian Gentner and William Kvist didn't get tight enough to opponents to break up play, the gaps down the channels on either side of the centre-backs were cavernous, and they gave the ball away in their own half. It was really quite ridiculous.

And seemingly, they didn't learn from their mistakes. At half-time, the score was 2-1, and BVB had been guilty of not being clinical enough in front of goal—it could easily have been four.

But rather than tightening up at the end of the first 45 and looking to just stay in it until the last 20 minutes and then opening up to give it a go, Stuttgart just carried on trying to be expansive, opening play out as soon as they had possession.

The big problem with that, however, is that they gave the ball away far too easily, far too often, and within 11 minutes of the restart, the game was over.

Having not been beaten since August, they really did throw away their unbeaten run with ridiculous ease, and coach Thomas Schneider will need to get it out of their system as soon as possible.

 

A Tough Lesson for Timo Werner

Seventeen-year-old wunderkind Timo Werner, once again, found himself in the Stuttgart line-up, and while he was powerless to stop Dortmund's irresistable press for victory, it was an outing which will have been good for his development.

Stationed wide on the left, Werner did battle with Kevin Grosskreutz—again deputising at right-back—and though it was a tough evening, something akin to a chastening, there were also glimpses of his potential and quality.

Comfortable with the ball at his feet, intelligent in his use of the ball and capable of escaping the challenges of defenders, Werner showed that, even in spite of his tender years, his is a bright future. One first-half run, in particular, which ended not in a penalty or in him being booked for diving but curiously with a drop ball, was excellent as he drove past three defenders.

Like Werner, it was also a difficult night for Moritz Leitner, on loan with Stuttgart from the home side. He demonstrated some clever touches and was always willing to take possession but, too often, he did little with it.

The 20-year-old needs to show in similar high-profile matches in the future greater willingness to stamp his authority on matches, rather than simply being a part of them.

Nonetheless, with greater game time and additional responsibility placed upon the pair, the potential of both is enormous. Senior international honours surely await.

 

Have a chat on Twitter: @AA_Richards

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