Christian Pulisic Puts In An Absolute Shift Against The World’s Best Defense

Sorry for the extremely American take, but it’s true.

A fascinating tactical battle between Lucien Favre’s Bundesliga-leading Dortmund and Diego Simeone’s Atletico (currently averaging 0.55 goals conceded per game in LaLiga) was bossed by the home side at the Westfalenstadion on Wednesday, BVB putting four past Europe’s misers while limiting the visitors to only two shots on frame.

Achraf Hakimi registered a hat-trick of assists while the moves were finished by Axel Witsel, Jadon Sancho and Raphael Guerreiro (x2). Marco Reus wasn’t on the scoresheet, but his deployment in the false nine role murdered Atletico’s shape. 

Additional disruption was provided by Christian Pulisic, who suffered his fair share of crunching tackles from the likes of Filipe Luis, Saúl and Koke, but never stopped driving at Atletico’s defense. He completed a match-best five dribbles (three more than any player on the pitch) and put in an absolute shift to help limit the impact of Antoine Griezmann and Thomas Lemar. He covered 6.1 miles in 79 minutes and was a constant shield for Lukasz Piszczek despite his forays forward.

The American probably should’ve earned an assist from a well-taken corner in the 42nd minute.  

Anyway, to focus on Pulisic would be a hyper-American take (guilty as charged) in the face of such a masterful team performance. The opening goal from Witsel was fortunate (a big deflection took it past the unbeatable Jan Oblak). 

And Saúl came so close to equalizing with one of those efforts that’s even more poetically beautiful with the woodwork involved. 

But the final 20 minutes of the match were a clinic from Dortmund — perhaps some of the best football we’ve seen in the UCL this season. The second, from Guerreiro, is rarely seen against Atletico. It’s a lobotomy of a goal. 

Mario Götze’s “hockey assist” on the third was also something splendid. 

The fourth wasn’t all that beautiful, but one does not simply score four goals against Atleti. 

The win put Dortmund at the top of Group A with a perfect record after three games. The club has yet to concede while scoring eight goals. What exactly are they putting in the water down in Dortmund, North Rhine-Westphalia? 

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