Dortmund - With little room to manoeuvre at the top of the table and the second Revierderby of the season on the horizon, Borussia Dortmund picked up a much-needed victory over Hannover 96 to maintain their grip on second place on Saturday.
The 3-0 away win ensured that BVB preserved their one-point cushion over arch rivals FC Schalke 04, whilst ending a difficult seven-day spell on a positive note. “We really needed to win today, especially after the two disappointing defeats [to Gladbach and FC Zenit]”, admitted striker Robert Lewandowski on bvb.de.
Few would deny that this season has been an uphill battle for Dortmund, who have demonstrated great character in spite of several first-team regulars being unavailable for much of the campaign. Not once has head coach Jürgen Klopp been able to call upon a full-strength side, a fact encapsulated by the 46-year-old naming a different back four for the 16th time this season against Hannover on Matchday 26.
Despite the numerous setbacks and their supposed defensive frailties, Dortmund can be commended for coming into the final stretch with their fate in their own hands having collected two more points and conceded two less goals goal in comparison to this stage last season. “We did well in defence, limited them to only a few chances and got better as the match wore on,” said stand-in left-back Erik Durm. “We managed to play our high-tempo football, scored three goals and could have even added one or two more. It was a fully deserved win in the end.”
Leading the line
In light of their season-long struggle with absentees, Dortmund’s inconsistency isn’t all that surprising, but fortunately for them it didn’t rear its ugly head on Saturday. “It was a very difficult game, especially in the first half as Hannover put up a good fight,” said Lewandowski. “The goal shortly before the interval played into our hands, but we knew at half-time that we needed at least one more goal, and once we scored that it got easier for us.”
The prolific Pole was the man to grab the all-important second, as he moved onto 16 goals for the season by beating four defenders and goalkeeper with a superb individual effort - a certain candidate for Dortmund’s goal of the season. “I really wanted to put the chance away, but I also didn’t see a team-mate free,” explained the 25-year-old. “When I got into the area, I saw an opening and just ran past everyone. When I see an opportunity to shoot, I take it.”
'Really up for it'
With three more points in the bag, BVB’s focus now switches to Tuesday’s Revierderby which, aside from being a heated encounter between two local rivals, has an added significance given the current situation in the Bundesliga. “Schalke are just one point behind us, so it’s not just the derby itself that motivates us,” said Lewandowski. “It’s also the battle for second place - and that’s where we want to finish the season.”
According to the Polish international, who scored his first-ever Bundesliga goal against the Royal Blues back in 2010, the win over Hannover “gives us a lot of confidence for the derby”. Schalke completed a league double over their rivals last season but Dortmund are determined to exact their revenge by following suit having won the Matchday 10 encounter 3-1. “This is a huge match now and we really want to win it," Lewandowski added. “We've done quite well in the last couple of derbies, and I hope this is also the case on Tuesday. We'll be really up for it, that's for sure.”
Check out Lewandowski's stunning solo goal against Hannover on the Bundesliga's official YouTube channel: