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  • By Alessandro Schiavone

Dortmund: Chelsea's Champions League rivals defeat Leverkusen emphatically. Here 3 things we learned


By Alessandro Schiavone from Leverkusen's BayArena


Bayer Leverkusen 0-2 Borussia Dortmund


Borussia Dortmund made it three wins in as many games for 2023 after taking all three points from Leverkusen yesterday evening.


Die Schwarzgelben, with whom Chelsea will battle it out for a spot in the quarter-final of the Champions League in little over two weeks, scored either side of half-time and moved up to fourth in the Bundesliga standings.


And their win over Leverkusen was a clear testament to their sparkling form as they approach the first leg of the game against the Blues. The home side came off the back of five victories on the bounce. But Dortmund let their supremacy loose with one goal either side of half-time as keeper Gregor Kobel consolidated the clean sheet with two superb saves to deny Arsenal target Moussa Diaby twice from range.


Just when Bayer Leverkusen’s revival looked to have gathered pace, Adeyemi netted his first Bundesliga goal after a brilliant cutback from Julian Brandt. In the second period an own-goal by Tapsoba put daylight between these once Bundesliga title rivals from the early 2000s. The Burkina Faso international inadvertently bundled Marius Wolf’s assist into his own net although Jude Bellingham was on hand and ready to do it himself had he not done so. Leverkusen manager Xabi Alonso’s plans to sit back and hit on the break didn’t quite work out. Leverkusen were too passive, as all they did was wait for space in behind Dortmund’s defence to attack. But when against a side defending so well you need to bury the few chances you get. Yet Diaby did not make the most of it. In the end Dortmund won deservedly and it could even have been 3-0 had Frimpong not cleared another Tapsoba own-goal in the making off the line. Needless to say, Chelsea need to be at their best as Dortmund look like a strong team in every department. Edin Terzic’s men attack in numbers and look hard to beat. Even more so with Kobel between the sticks and the solid pairing of Sule and Schlotterbeck to protect him. Such is their wealth of options that they can also afford to leave 2014 World Cup winner Mats Hummels on the bench. Yet there’s a feeling that if Mikhailo Mudryk, Mason Mount, Raheem Sterling and co. are on their days this game can only go one way: Chelsea’s. Graham Potter’s men side look to have beefed up their defence at just the right time and have too much firepower on the wings to be worried about Dortmund. Wolf, who set up the 1997 Champions League winners’ second goal, is a fantastic crosser of the ball but defensively he isn’t the most solid as Diaby’s runs in behind him showcased.


Here are three things, among many, which we learned


HALLER: inspirational


To hell and back. The ex-West Ham led the line for the first time since being diagnosed with testicular cancer last summer. And despite understandably looking off the pace as he lacks match rhythm, he worked Leverkusen defenders Jonathan Tah, Piero Hincapie and Tapsoba really hard. His movement also created space for his players to run into. And ha played a big part in Dortmund’s opener when he let a Brandt cutback through for the better-positioned Adeyemi to arrow into the far corner. He deserves credit for how he played and especially for showing such mental strength at such a dark time. If he regains his sharpness , he can cause Badiashile and Thiago Silva some problems in a few weeks’ time. Both sets of supporters applauded him when he made way for Anthony Modest in the 60th minute,


BELLINGHAM: Gladiator


That the young Englishman is an out-of-the-ordinary top talent has been no secret for a while. But it’s his dedication, his leadership, the way he sets the tempo and barks orders at his older teammates that strike a chord. At only 19 he should be the kid around men, yet he makes his older colleagues look like kids around the adult that he's footballing-wise, such is his authority. If he feels that someone should have passed the ball to him, he’ll let them know in no uncertain terms. If he believes a tactical foul is necessary to take the sting out of the opponents’ newly-found momentum, as when he soved Tapsoba to the floor, he will do that. If he believes that losing his temper is the best way to let everyone know that he is the boss, he will. Yesterday he was outstanding, provoking Leverkusen’s own goal with his movement and run into the box, just after he magnificently spread the play for Wolf. He also could have scored himself late on but didn’t connect properly with the right-back’s cross as the ball hit his shoulder before fizzling inches wide. A world-class midfielder in the making, he’s ready for the Premier League and would walk into any English line-up.


WOLF: good attacking-wise, not so solid at the back


When Dortmund picked their moments in the game, Wolf was at the centre of them all. Yet, his attacking prowess was nearly undone by his defensive fragility. On another day, Leverkusen’s Diaby would have had a brace to his name an the ex-Cologne loanee would certainly have been at fault for the second one. But Kobel bailed him out.

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