In the near future, this Newcastle team will become a formidable contender in Europe. This will happen once they are able to balance their hard work with some skill, and strengthen their squad which is currently strained due to a busy schedule. They will also need to figure out how to defeat opponents who are not easily intimidated. Ultimately, they need to learn how to win games like this one.
Dortmund has defeated them twice in two weeks. Although Newcastle still has a chance to advance to the next round, they will most likely need to win in Paris and receive some help. Consider this a valuable learning opportunity: a demonstration of combining strength with innovation, altering attack strategies, involving forwards in the game, and ensuring that productive moments are rewarded.
“The team was a bit battered,” is how Eddie Howe described them afterwards. While he was cautious not to make excuses, it was apparent that the demanding nature of their previous five games – each with their own challenges – is starting to take a toll on both the skill level of his players and the fierce determination needed to excel. This group now only consists of 13 experienced field players and, with Callum Wilson having to come off at halftime due to a strained hamstring, it’s possible they may not have a healthy striker available.
Howe had to make some tactical decisions due to limited options. Trippier and Livramento worked well together on the right side, but they seemed more at ease when Trippier switched to the left in the second half. Gordon brought a burst of energy and quickness when he subbed in for Wilson at halftime, and Almirón also made a positive impact coming off the bench. However, as Dortmund increased their pressure towards the end, Howe had no more options to turn to.
In light of the fact that a team backed by the wealthy Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia is currently in a perplexing situation, it is important to note that the efficiency and compactness of Howe’s squad has been a key factor in Newcastle’s ascent to the Premier League.
It is likely that there will be some additional players joining in January. The main concern is whether or not Newcastle will be able to offer them a spot in the Champions League when the transfer window begins.
It was evident that a demanding schedule of playing two games per week would eventually affect a team that was used to playing only one. The initial goal, which occurred due to Dortmund’s unexpected success in gaining possession of three loose balls in a row near the Newcastle area, was a clear indication of this. Marcel Sabitzer took advantage of the situation and passed the ball to Niclas Füllkrug for a high finish into the net. When Howe commented that he didn’t believe Dortmund had faced the strongest Newcastle team, he was likely referring to moments like this.
Edin Terzić, the coach of Dortmund, was greatly praised by Howe for his tactics. Dortmund was successful in preventing Newcastle from playing by being physically equal, intercepting their passes on the sides, and knowing when to control the pace of the game and when to clear the ball. Füllkrug’s presence in the front has opened up new opportunities for their attacking players, such as Julian Brandt and Karim Adeyemi in this match, and Donyell Malen and Gio Reyna in other matches, to create chaos.
Newcastle surprisingly made it to the halfway point, where Howe put on his medical gloves and tweezers to patch them up as effectively as possible. Wilson and Lewis Hall were both subbed off, and Newcastle became a more challenging opponent with more players in the center, a stronger press, and a wider range of attacking angles. This almost resulted in a quick goal when Joelinton missed a header from Livramento’s cross at six yards out.
However, Newcastle has never appeared completely comfortable when attempting to penetrate opposing teams, especially those as formidable and well-organized as Dortmund, who have excelled this season under Terzić. The second goal, surprisingly, originated from a subpar cross by Trippier, which was cleared long to Brandt. He then sprinted the entire length of the field in a two-on-one offensive. With only Livramento defending, the last line of defense against a naval assault, Brandt took matters into his own hands and calmly placed the ball into the corner.
The traveling fans were not too sad about the situation. They spent the day hanging out in the bars and cafes of Dortmund, singing their chants, drinking their pilsner beer, and relishing the feeling of being somewhere significant once more, of being noticed once more. Newcastle’s supporters have quickly adapted to being in Europe. However, their team is still trying to figure things out.