Lukasz Piszczek put in one of his finest attacking performances, but not one of his finest defensive ones.
Eintracht Frankfurt looked well out of it heading into the break as they were 2-0 down. Whatever Armin Veh said to his players worked wonders, however, as they clawed their way back to 2-2 soon after the start of the second half.
They lost their winning streak, but they remain unbeaten in their opening 5 games upon returning to the top flight and are continuing to impress. They remain second behind Bayern Munich on 13 points, 3 clear of 3rd-placed Hannover 96.
Borussia Dortmund, meanwhile, who surprisingly lost their first game in a year (32 games) last round versus a struggling Hamburg side, have now kept just 1 clean sheet in their last 6 league games (a 3-0 home win over Bayer Leverkusen in round 3), dating back to the final game of last season on May 12. They sit in 6th place — 7 points behind Bayern — and have conceded the joint 3rd-highest amount of goals thus far this season (8).
Defensive problems are certainly present in this team and this game provided further evidence of such. Right full-back Lukasz Piszczek, unfortunately, must take a share of the blame for the defensive frailties laid bare in this fixture, blotching what was turning out to be a remarkable personal performance. Let’s see why.
Lukasz Piszczek started alongside a familiar trio of Neven Subotic, Mats Hummels, and Marcel Schmelzer in defence. He, as well as those 3 players, are very highly rated not just in Germany, but in general. They each played a huge role in Borussia Dortmund’s back-to-back title-winning seasons of 2010/2011 and 2011/2012.
Lately, however, they’ve lacked concentration and seemed disorganised as a unit. And now, in back-to-back games, their opponents have contrived to score 3 goals against them — hardly the defensive form of champions.
Lukasz Piszczek is singled out here given the player who proved crucial in Frankfurt’s revival on this day was positioned on his flank — Takashi Inui.
Going forward in the early exchanges, Piszczek was allowed to do anything he wanted down the right flank, even get as far as into the penalty area.
He and his Poland team-mate Jakub “Kuba” Blaszczykowski have developed a wonderful understanding down the right, with Kuba often drifting inside to allow Piszczek the space to get forward. This was seen in the 8th minute.
Kuba drifted to a central position to allow Piszczek to break forward, after which he did an impressive 360° turn (1 of 3 dribbles he completed during this game — the most of any player on the pitch) and then a fake to get away from the Frankfurt defender, before sending in a low cross, which was blocked. It was 1 of a few forward runs he made in the game.
It took him 24 minutes to get his rewards. Hummels played a lovely cross-field ball which found Piszczek as he made his way into the penalty area, where he fired a shot that took 2 deflections en route to goal. 1-0 Dortmund.
4 minutes later, Piszczek was at it again. Breaking forward again, he played a low cross back to Marco Reus who was waiting outside the penalty area. Reus placed it beautifully into the corner of the net from long range. 2-0 Dortmund. That goal-scoring opportunity was 1 of 3 Piszczek set up on the day — again, the most of any player on the pitch. Jurgen Klopp must have thought the points were safe heading into the break, but he was sadly mistaken.
Takashi Inui fought back in the second half. He exploited Piszczek just once in the first half. He fired a shot wide of Roman Weidenfeller’s post after getting down Piszczek’s flank. Piszczek was tucked inside and in the end did just enough to put off Inui. But it was a warning of what was possible if Dortmund lost their grip on the game — one that wasn’t heeded.
Inui — who was very impressive after the break — played a pass to Stefan Aigner on the counter-attack and Aigner finished to make it 2-1 on 49 minutes. Marcel Schmelzer failed to track Aigner. 2 minutes later, it was Aigner this time — again not tracked by Schmelzer — who set up Inui to equalise for the home side. Where was Lukasz Piszczek? He was sucked inside again and was trying to catch up with another Frankfurt player. No one was marking Inui at the far post. Just like that, 2 lapses in concentration cost Dortmund their lead.
That wasn’t all. In the 69th minute (Mario Gotze had made it 3-2 before then), Inui got past Piszczek easily again before cutting inside and firing a rasping shot at Weidenfeller, who made the save. By this time, Piszczek wasn’t allowed to break forward as he did in the first half. He found it difficult trying to handle Inui, who was inspired in the second half.
Frankfurt’s second equaliser came from poor marking from Dortmund at a corner. This time, defender Anderson found the net. The points were shared and, quite frankly, Frankfurt deserved it.
Lukasz Piszczek may have been singled out, but the entire Dortmund defence is responsible for what was an unacceptable defensive performance. Be it poor defending from the full-backs or a lack of concentration across the entire backline, Klopp has to sort out these problems and fast, otherwise he’ll find it hard trying to catch up to a Bayern side that looks unstoppable at present.
Also, as far as the Champions League is concerned, it will be even more difficult to get out of the group of death Dortmund find themselves in, where they are alongside powerhouses Manchester City and Real Madrid, who boast a plethora of world class attacking talent.
**Stats courtesy of Whoscored
**Heat maps courtesy of ESPN FC