Borussia Dortmund vs. Wolfsburg: 6 Things We Learned
Borussia Dortmund booked their place in the DFB-Pokal final on Tuesday following a 2-0 win against Wolfsburg at the Signal-Iduna Park.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan opened the scoring after 12 minutes, and Robert Lewandowski added a second before the break, putting the match out of reach for a good but inefficient Wolfsburg side.
Dortmund's win keeps them in the running for silverware this May, with the club having already been eliminated from contention in the Champions League and Bundesliga. The Ruhr side will meet the winner of tomorrow's match between Kaiserslautern and Bayern Munich in Berlin on May 17.
As always, there were many take-home messages from the match. Click Begin Slideshow for a full analysis.
Mkhitaryan Has Turned the Corner After Real Madrid Nightmare
Exactly one week ago, Henrikh Mkhitaryan was shattered. Although Dortmund had beaten Real Madrid 2-0, their record signing had missed three great chances to score as BVB were eliminated from the Champions League.
Mkhitaryan had also struggled in the first leg a week prior, and following an extended run in which he never truly added the spark expected of such a high-profile signing, he was under heavy fire from media and fans alike.
Mkhitaryan has since rebounded in brilliant manner. He scored the opener for BVB in their 3-0 win over Bayern last weekend and again was first on the scoresheet against Wolfsburg.
The Armenia international did more than just score, he made the right runs, dribbles and passes, defended tenaciously and overall fit into Jurgen Klopp's team perfectly. It speaks well for his character that, just days after reaching what probably was the nadir of his career, he has rebounded so emphatically.
Wolfsburg Were Unlucky
Wolfsburg had enough chances to win Tuesday's game; they just were unfortunate enough to miss them.
Junior Malanda was denied by the post early before Kevin de Bruyne's follow-up was poorly struck wide. Maximilian Arnold later missed an open goal and Malanda a volley that amounted to little more than a tap-in.
In the final stage of the game, there was a goal-line scramble in which Malanda and Luiz Gustavo had chances to score but were denied.
Wolfsburg tested Roman Weidenfeller with just six of 17 shots and were unable to score with any. Dortmund took just seven attempts but scored twice.
It should be said that BVB had the better spells in attack overall despite rarely shooting, but had they been a little less clinical and had Wolfsburg finished some rather routine chances, the result could have been far different. As it happened, the hosts were able to see out the final minutes without much worry of the result being overturned.
Lewandowski Will Be Remembered as a Dortmund Legend
When Robert Lewandowski scored Dortmund's second goal on Tuesday, he pulled up his shirt to reveal an undershirt with "100" written on it.
The number was to commemorate what was the Polish striker's 100th goal at BVB, putting him in an elite class with only Stephane Chapuisat and Manfred Burgsmuller exceeding his tally among Dortmund players.
The fact that Lewandowski was able to achieve the century mark after just four seasons is even more impressive; if he were to have opted to stay another season, he might well have set a new club record. But he will join Bayern Munich in the summer, a move that has long been written in the stars.
Lewandowski never made any false promises, he only ever viewed Dortmund as a step in his career. He was honest with the club and fans and accordingly will be remembered for the great things he did. And as signified by the number on his undershirt, there are many.
Wolfsburg on Their Way, but Not Yet a Champions League Side
Right now, Wolfsburg are in a dead-heat with 'Gladbach and Leverkusen for fourth place in the Bundesliga, and with it, a spot in the Champions League playoff.
Dieter Hecking's side may yet find their way into Europe's greatest international club competition, but if they do, they may be found lacking just a little something.
VfL played better than the scoreline of Tuesday's game suggested, and they have plenty of quality in their squad. Where they are lacking, though, is in the finishing department and in defence.
At the same time, they have in Junior Malanda, Maximilian Arnold and Kevin de Bruyne three very talented midfielders who have plenty of room to develop. Ricardo Rodriguez is an excellent left-back and Luiz Gustavo is proven quality in defensive midfield.
Still, Wolfsburg lacked a finishing touch up front, and centre-backs Naldo and Robin Knoche were found lacking in pace. It was these things that made the difference.
Sahin-Jojic Rotation Becoming More and More Possible
Just over a week ago, Milos Jojic had barely played for Dortmund following his January deadline-day move from Partizan Belgrade.
He had a tremendous breakthrough performance against Real Madrid last Tuesday and was granted another start against Wolfsburg. Nuri Sahin was given a start in the match between—Saturday's win against Bayern Munich.
Jurgen Klopp's high-intensity pressing game is extremely demanding, especially on central midfielders, and Sahin at times this season lost his edge as he was forced to play while fatigued or even while nursing a minor injury.
But the emergence of Jojic, who convinced in Wolfsburg, will offer hope for BVB that they will have the depth in midfield needed to be real contenders for glory on three fronts.
Both Sahin and Jojic proved they can perform against top opponents over the last week, and with Klopp having used neither from the start in consecutive matches out of the last four, rotation is becoming a serious option.
Marco Reus Is a Contender for German Footballer of the Year
Two assists on Tuesday increased Marco Reus' tally to 20 to complement his 21 goals in 39 appearances in all competitions for Dortmund this season.
The 24-year-old has been heroic, especially in recent weeks, carrying BVB forward with his brilliant combination of playmaking and finishing. At this time, he has to be considered one of the most dangerous attacking players in all of Europe and a contender for German Footballer of the Year.
Aside from the admittedly outstanding Robert Lewandowski, Reus has had limited help in the Dortmund attack; certainly less than he had a year ago when Mario Gotze played at his side.
And yet, the ex-'Gladbach man has stepped up his game with a career high in assists and near-high in goals.
In addition to directly contributing to more goals than any of Bayern's interchangeable players, Reus has proven himself more valuable to his team than any among the Bavarians' squad. And his class exceeds that of any in the Schalke, Leverkusen, Wolfsburg, 'Gladbach or other Bundesliga squads.
One severe hindrance to Reus' contention for Footballer of the Year in Germany is the possibility of him ending the year having only the DFL-Superpokal. If Bayern win a treble, the award will almost surely have to go to a member of Pep Guardiola's team.
But if the Bundesliga title-elects are unable to win the Champions League and Reus impresses in the final, there is a case to be made for the mercurial attacker. Time will tell whether he deserves it, but for now he has to be considered a contender.