Stuttgart 0-2 Borussia Dortmund
(Brandt 12′, 71′)
This was a must-win game for Borussia Dortmund after their shock battering at the hands of RB Leipzig in Dortmund last weekend.
Julian Brandt was the matchwinner in Stuttgart scoring a goal in each half and linking well with Erling Haaland. But Brandt isn’t an automatic starter under Rose and his involvement so early here wasn’t planned, with the Germany international a substitute for the luckless Giovanni Reyna, who pulled up with a hamstring injury with his first touch of the ball inside the first minute.
It’s hard not to sympathize with Reyna, he can’t catch a break. His young career has been punctuated by a combination of silky moments on the field but a cluster of injuries have limited his game time — never good for a young player. The American’s departure inside two minutes came after he stretched to reach the ball and ended with him exiting the stage distraught.
Reyna’s injury raises some questions: Did he return too quickly from his thigh problem? He was kept out for two weeks in late February with a hamstring injury too. Beyond that, Donyell Malen was missing with a muscle injury, the same issue that is keeping out Felix Passlack and Nico Scholz. Thomas Meunier is out for the season with a hamstring injury. Questions for the Borussia Dortmund medical department, perhaps.
Brandt seizes opportunity
Brandt fit seamlessly fit into the number 10 role vacated by Reyna and very quickly demonstrated his understanding with Marco Reus, Thorgan Hazard and Haaland, in particular. And it was the Norwegian with whom Brandt combined for the opener – the goal was initially chalked off for offside, but a VAR review confirmed that Haaland had stayed onside before galloping forward and teeing up Brandt.
Stuttgart had their chances though; the best fell to Omar Marmoush, who went close with a delicate chip over Dortmund keeper Gregor Kobel that just dropped over the bar. He spurned another opening. Without forwards Silas Katompa Mvumpa, Sasa Kalajdzic and Daniel Didavi pulling the strings, Stuttgart were a blunt force, as their technical director Sven Mislintat all but admitted after the game.
“It was clear that we played this game as an underdog and I think we dealt with that,” Mislintat told ESPN. “I think we had the better chances, but the small piece of quality was missing and that is the main difference between the sides, and we have to accept that.”
Brandt was the “small piece of quality” to which Mislintat refers. He secured the points for Dortmund with a low drive in the second half that Stuttgart goalkeeper Florian Müller should really have kept out, but it was Brandt’s ability to influence the game that Stuttgart really struggled with. And with Reyna sadly set for a period on sidelines again, Rose will look to Brandt and Haaland to build on their understanding ahead of the Klassiker on April 23.