No Marco Reus, no Mats Hummels - the BVB match winners in 2023 are different. A remarkable changing of the guard is currently taking place at Borussia Dortmund, long-standing top performers are no longer in demand in decisive games.
While Reus and Hummels didn't play for a second in Dortmund's passionate 1-0 (0-0) win in the Champions League round of 16 first leg against Chelsea on Wednesday, footballers who had been heavily criticized for months or years were celebrated: Emre Can, Julian Brandt and match winner Karim Adeyemi.
"Now he's finally arrived," said BVB coach Edin Terzic after Adeyemi's successful solo run over almost 70 meters to the winning goal in the 63rd minute. "We just hope that it's not just a knot that's broken, but that it's a consistent performance from him." The national striker, who had been unlucky at BVB for months since moving from Red Bull Salzburg last summer, fought self-sacrificingly, like the entire Dortmund team, against the luxury squad of national team colleague Kai Havertz, who had been pimped up with 600 million euros.
World Champion demoted to extra
Adeyemi demoted world champion and 121 million euro man Enzo Fernández to extras not only in the scene of the game. "I'm just happy today," stammered the 21-year-old, who felt "goosebumps" throughout. Despite Adeyemi's manageable performances in the first half of the season, Terzic strengthened the attacking talent and is now being rewarded. "He's doing it really, really well at the moment," said Terzic, praising Adeyemi's will after the botched German World Cup in Qatar. "He reported back very diligently after the World Cup. He really gave it his all."
This also applies to Can and Brandt, who are elementary pillars in the current series of seven competitive wins for Dortmund, but previously were at best followers for a long time. "Something happened to him too," said sports director Sebastian Kehl about Adeyemi's explosion, adding with a view to players like Can and Brandt: "Just like one or the other. That's great for him and for us , very important."
Because with Can as a duel monster and Brandt, who finally discovers defensive work, the Dortmunders now seem to be armed for what has been expected of them in recent years, but what they were never able to do in decisive moments: higher tasks in the league and in Europe. "It's looking pretty good at the moment," said coach Terzic.
Through hard work to victory
The Westphalians showed their hard work when they won the cup a week ago in Bochum and now again against Chelsea. Nobody is currently asking the mentality question. "We've certainly played better games. But the commitment of the team, the cohesion, that was exceptionally good. We defended ourselves and had the right fighting spirit," Kehl rejoiced.
It is more than a sign that the veterans Reus (33) and Hummels (34), whose contracts expire in the summer, are not currently responsible for this change. Terzic tried to flatter the longtime BVB greats - just don't spark a debate about where things are going so well. "Of course I'm brutally sorry. But it's not just about Marco. We had other guys who weren't substituted on," Terzic said on the DAZN internet broadcaster, in particular about his captain.
The coach knows that this season there will be phases in which both will become important. It is expected that Reus will be able to react again in the league on Sunday and strengthen his self-confidence. Against table penultimate Hertha BSC. He was not in demand against the millions of Chelsea on the Champions League stage. This can be seen as a clear indication for the future.