In the near future, Newcastle will become a formidable team in Europe. They just need to improve their skills and expand their small squad, which is currently strained due to a busy schedule. They also need to figure out how to defeat opponents who are not easily intimidated. Essentially, they need to learn how to win matches like this one.
Borussia Dortmund has defeated their opponents twice in the span of two weeks. Although Newcastle still has a chance to advance to the last 16, it will likely require a victory in Paris and some assistance. Consider this a valuable learning opportunity: a tutorial on how to combine strength with innovation, how to vary attack strategies, how to involve forwards in the game, and how to ensure that periods of productivity are acknowledged.
“After the game, Eddie Howe described his team as ‘a bit bruised.’ Although he avoided making excuses, it was evident that the physical demands of their previous five games were taking a toll on both the players’ abilities and their level of intensity needed to excel. The team only has 13 experienced outfield players left, and with Callum Wilson leaving the game at half-time due to a hamstring injury, they may not even have a fully fit striker available.”
Consequently, Howe had to make some strategic changes in his team. Kieran Trippier and Tino Livramento worked together on the right side, but they seemed more at ease when Trippier switched to the left in the second half. Anthony Gordon injected energy and quickness when he substituted for Wilson at halftime, and Miguel Almirón also made a good impression coming off the bench. However, as Dortmund increased their pressure towards the end, Howe had no more options to try.
It may be surprising that a team backed by the wealthy Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia is in this situation. However, it should be noted that the efficiency and compactness of Howe’s team has been a key factor in Newcastle’s success in the Premier League.
It is likely that there will be some additional players joining in January. The main concern is whether Newcastle will be able to offer them the opportunity to compete in the Champions League when the transfer window opens.
It was evident that a strenuous schedule of two matches per week would eventually take its toll on a team accustomed to playing only one. The initial goal, scored by Dortmund, was a clear indication of this as they managed to win three loose balls in a row near the Newcastle area. Marcel Sabitzer took advantage of this and passed the ball to Niclas Füllkrug, who then skillfully shot it into the top of the net. After the game, Howe mentioned that he believed Dortmund had not faced the strongest version of Newcastle, and this was likely what he was referring to.
Edin Terzić, the coach of Dortmund, received high praise from Howe for his observation. This is because Dortmund was successful in preventing Newcastle from playing their game. They were able to match their opponents physically, block their passes into the channels, and had a good sense of when to slow down the game and when to clear the ball. The addition of Füllkrug in the front has brought a new dynamic to their attack, creating more opportunities for their creative players – such as Julian Brandt and Karim Adeyemi in this match, and Donyell Malen and Gio Reyna in others – to cause chaos.
Newcastle surprisingly reached half-time, during which Howe prepared to treat their injuries by putting on medical gloves and using tweezers. Wilson and Lewis Hall were both substituted, resulting in a more challenging team for their opponents with increased numbers in midfield, pressing higher up the field, additional players making runs from deep positions, and a more diverse range of attacking options. This nearly resulted in a quick comeback when Joelinton headed wide from a cross by Livramento.
However, Newcastle has never appeared completely comfortable in their attempts to dismantle opposing teams, especially those that are as formidable and organized as Dortmund under Terzić this season. The second goal was scored in a puzzling manner, as Trippier’s subpar cross was cleared and quickly picked up by Brandt, who took advantage of a two-on-one situation by sprinting the length of the field. With only Livramento to defend, the last line of defense against an onslaught from the opposition, Brandt took matters into his own hands and accurately placed the ball into the corner of the net.
The enthusiastic fans were not bothered by any of the events. They spent the day hanging out in the bars and cafes of Dortmund, singing their chants, drinking their pilsners, and relishing the feeling of being somewhere significant and noticed. Newcastle’s supporters have already adjusted to being in Europe, but their team is still figuring things out.