Jupiler Pro League defending champions Club Brugge begin their first match of the 2018/19 UEFA Champions League campaign in Group A against Borussia Dortmund who finished fourth in Bundesliga last season at the home of the Belgian club, Jan-Breydel-Stadion.
The Belgian club, currently managed by former Croatia international Ivan Leko, started the game slowly but an early mistake by Club Brugge defender Matej Mitrovic just 8 seconds after the kickoff almost gave Borussia Dortmund an early lead, but Croatian goalkeeper Karlo Letica was quick enough to kick the ball away before Reus got there, but it fell to the feet of Marius Wolf, but he skied it with his first time shot, much to the disappointment of the away fans.
Club Brugge could have scored a wonderful goal in the 22nd minute as Arnaut Danjuma cut inside from the left wing and curled the ball dangerously towards goal, but Borussia Dortmund goalkeeper Roman Burki was there to push the ball away to safety.
The Belgian side were threatening from long-range as Stefano Denswil’s mighty shot from around 30 meters out in the 37th minute just ended up at the wrong side of the post, it was agonizingly close by the Club Brugge defender.
The first-half ended with the score still the same as it was at the start of the game. Borussia Dortmund were a bit disappointing in the first half as they were unable to break down Club Brugge’s defensive structure despite having such impressive striking power upfront.
Borussia Dortmund captain Marco Reus tried his luck with a direct free-kick just 14 minutes after the second half started, but it went wide. Karlo Letica didn’t even have to worry about that.
The home side could even have scored in the 83rd minute. Openda made an impressive run from the left flank, he cut inside and went directly for a shot but Roman Burki made himself big to stop the ball from going in.
Lacklustre Dortmund finally got their goal in the 85th minute via Christian Pulisic. Mahmoud Dahoud received the ball in the attacking third, then drives a through ball towards Christian Pulisic who failed to beat the run of Matej Mitrovic who got to the ball first. But, the Club Brugge defender’s clearance hit the leg of Christian Pulisic then ricocheted into the goal. The Croatian defender summed up his somewhat disappointing performance in this match by failing to clear the ball properly. 1-0 for Borussia Dortmund.
The score stays still until the end of the match.
Club Brugge went into this match with a 3-5-2 flat formation with Karlo Letica as the goalkeeper, Benoit Poulain, Stefano Denswil, and Matej Mitrovic as the defenders.
Creative midfielder Hans Vanaken was in the central midfield berth along with Mats Rits and Ruud Vormer. While Thibault Vlietinck and Arnaut Danjuma occupied the wide midfield berth.
Jelle Vossen and Wesley were strike partners in this match.
Ivan Leko wanted his team to play on the counter and they were pretty dangerous indeed, utilising the pace and agility of their wide men, knowing that rather slow and ageing fullbacks like Piszczek and Schmelzer would struggle against them.
The home team managed to get 11 shots in total, but only 3 on target.
Meanwhile, Lucien Favre went with a 4-2-3-1 formation with two defensive midfielders which could transform into a 4-3-3 when attacking with Roman Burki as the goalkeeper, Manuel Akanji and Abdou Diallo as the central defenders, and Lukasz Piszczek and Marcel Schmelzer as the right-back and left-back respectively.
Axel Witsel and Julian Weigl were the defensive midfielders, while Mario Gotze was played in front of them as an attacking midfielder. Jadon Sancho and Marius Wolf were hoping to pick up their impressive form in this match as wingers.
Marco Reus was the lone striker in this match, he was played as a false-nine.
Borussia Dortmund played a very patient possession game, trying to find a gap in the opposition’s defence before making a breakthrough, but it proved to be not the ideal strategy to be employed against a defensively solid team who plays on the counter like Club Brugge.
Their finishing were also disappointingly poor, as they only able to get 2 shots on target from 13 in total despite dominating in possession with 65% against Club Brugge’s 35% ball possession.
Man of the Match – Christian Pulisic
It’s a bit hard to pick in this one. It was a pretty drab match and there wasn’t really anyone who shone brighter than the others.
Matej Mitrovic, despite his two fatal mistakes (one even led to a goal for the opposing team), could even be picked as the man of the match here as he was actually pretty solid and disciplined throughout the match.
Marcel Schmelzer, Lukasz Piszczek, and Abdou Diallo were also the contenders but I guess they didn’t really do as much to contribute to the outcome of the game, but they performed very well in this match.
Christian Pulisic came on in the 69th minute for Jadon Sancho and was a real game changer. His fresh feet and energy gave the opposition’s defenders some difficult times to deal with. His persistence finally paid off just 5 minutes before the final whistle as he closed down the Club Brugge defender, Matej Mitrovic after Mahmoud Dahoud’s through pass, and scored an unexpected goal from a deflection.
The USA international scored a goal in Champions League on his birthday and became just the second player to do so after former Dortmund midfielder Stefan Reuter.