Finally Borussia Dortmund plays attractive football again. And Schalke 04 has rediscovered the secret of success of the past season. Why the Champions League group phase is better than its reputation.
1. Schalke wins like Schalke again
The fact that Schalke 04 made it into the Champions League last season was mainly due to good defensive performances and many last-minute goals. This season has been lacking in both: Schalke did not defend well – and had bad luck in the end. But the Schalker virtues seem to have returned. Against Lokomotive Moscow Schalke won 1:0 for the second time in a row. In a largely unsightly game Weston McKennie headed for the Schalker victory in the 88th minute.
Gelsenkirchen’s luck in the game seems to have returned – and the defence also seems more secure. Coach Domenico Tedesco has broken up his chain of three, which had made too many mistakes in the first Bundesliga matches. With the new chain of four, Schalke is more secure, but always sacrifices one of his regular defenders, Naldo, Matija Nastasic or Salif Sané. Naldo sat on the bench against Mainz and Nastasic against Moscow. The probability is therefore high that this coming weekend against Fortuna Düsseldorf Sommerzugang Sané will take a seat on the bench.
2. Roman Bürki is Dortmund’s secret star
Borussia Dortmund plays attractive football again – finally. In the front, Jacob Bruun Larsen, Paco Alcácer and Marco Reus scored three beautiful goals against AS Monaco. So far, so ordinary. An important factor for the successful Dortmund game is forgotten with all the praise: Roman Bürki. The Swiss goalkeeper is one of the BVB’s most criticised players, and in the past he has already made a few slip-ups in the gallows humour of the south stand.
But this season Bürki is the secret star of the team, capturing victories for his team – and making hardly any mistakes. He also played well against Monaco. There was no “untenable” parade, but the five shots on goal that came to the Dortmund goal landed with Bürki. One big factor must not be forgotten: the charisma.
With Dan-Axel Zagadou and Manuel Akanji, two very young central defenders are playing in front of Bürki. The strong performances of their goalkeeper this season give them security. Not every loss of ball is synonymous with a goal against, because there’s someone in the back who’s really good at it. That gives the Dortmund game tremendous stability – and makes Dortmund defend against the ball more aggressively. Always with the knowledge: The Bürki, he can do something.
3. The group phase of the Champions League is more exciting than ever before
What hasn’t been blasphemed about the 96 matches of the Champions League group phase in recent years? Uninspired football is played there, there are no sensations anyway and in fact you can name the last sixteen players directly after the draw because the differences in quality are far too big. And in this season? If you can’t get out of the rapture any more.
Also at the Wednesday games there were again two big encounters with wonderful goals with Tottenham Hotspur against FC Barcelona and SSC Naples against FC Liverpool. And as we look forward to the next matchday, the pulse is once again rocketing: games like Barcelona vs. Inter, Manchester United vs. Juventus Turin and Paris Saint-Germain vs. SSC Naples are not only attracted by the duel of two big names, but also by the group constellation: at least one “big name” of international football will be in Groups B and C – further surprises such as the 0:1 win of the defending champion Real Madrid at ZSKA Moscow cannot be ruled out. Check out NordiCasino to know about their promos and bonuses.