Two weeks ago the top four race looked dead and buried in the Bundesliga, but now it is wide open again, with both VFL Wolfsburg and Eintracht Frankfurt suffering two defeats in their last three fixtures. Borussia Dortmund were the architects of Wolfsburg’s latest downfall, as Erling Haaland’s brace sent the Black & Yellows within one-point of fourth place.
Edin Terzic has slowly started to figure things out at the helm of Dortmund, and the club are now in fine form heading into the final stretch of the season. The German manager made the smart decision to take a more defensive approach to the match, letting Wolfsburg have more of the possession and focusing all of their efforts on stopping passes into the path of Wout Weghorst – Wolfsburg’s key talisman. Manuel Akanji and Emre Can stuck to the task very well, limiting the Dutch forward to just one shot the entire match. Mahmoud Dahoud also performed well in front of the back four, and came up with a crucial assist on Erling Haaland’s second goal.
It was a marked difference from the way Borussia Dortmund normally play, but a wise tactical decision that should suit them well if they use the same defensive strategy against pass-masters Leipzig next round. Instead of throwing all their numbers forward at every opportunity, Dortmund were much more intentional about when they attacked. They forced Wolfsburg into two key errors in the match and punished them through Erling Haaland’s exceptional pace and sublime left-foot. Haaland was a beast in the air and a nuisance for VFL Wolfsburg to handle all match long, while Max Arnold and Xaver Schlager couldn’t cope with the free-flowing movement of Marco Reus in behind. Lukasz Piszczek also had an excellent game in his return to the starting eleven, showcasing that he still has what it takes at 35-years-old.
Although Jude Bellingham made two rash decisions in the match and got himself sent off, the Black & Yellows were ultimately too solid defensively for it to matter. Then with Erling Haaland’s Thor-like strength and power, Wolfsburg crumbled under the pressure and succumbed to a 2-0 defeat that never looked in doubt. The win takes Dortmund within two points of Oliver Glasner’s team, and one point within Eintracht Frankfurt heading into the final three fixtures. The top four race is officially back on, and won’t be slowing down.