Bundesliga Breakdown: How Dortmund created Haaland’s opener vs. Schalke


Dortmund's Erling Haaland, centre right, scores the opening goal during the Bundesliga match between Borussia Dortmund and Schalke 04 in Dortmund, Germany, Saturday, May 16, 2020. (Martin Meissner/AP)

Every week for the remainder of the season, Sportsnet will choose a top play from the Bundesliga and break it down in depth to highlight its magnificence.

The Bundesliga returned on Saturday following a two-month hiatus in emphatic fashion.

Borussia Dortmund triumphed in the Revierderby with a dominant 4-0 victory over Schalke in an empty Signal Iduna Park. Teenage phenom Erling Haaland opened the scoring in the 29th minute after some lovely free-flowing football, en route to a comfortable win.

The finish itself was difficult enough, but so was the sequence leading up to the goal itself.

Here’s a complete breakdown of Haaland’s goal.

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The flick

During the build-up, Dortmund centre-back Mats Hummels has the ball at his feet. Schalke’s forwards were tasked with closing down Hummels due to his quality passing from the back.

Hummels recognized the threat, as does right-sided centre-back Lukasz Piszczek, who shows for the ball and receives a pass.

Piszczek is aware of Schalke’s press, so he takes a touch to his left to buy himself time for a pass.

Once Piszczek moved to the left, Julian Brandt darted closer to the right touchline to wait for the pass. Brandt executed this run to pull Schalke centre-back Matija Nastasic out of position and closer to him.

Nastasic ended up pushing closer to Brandt, but it allowed Thorgan Hazard to exploit the open space.

Once Hazard was within range, Brandt flicked the ball into Hazard’s feet and the Belgian was all alone down the right wing.

A Hazard-ous connection

As soon as Hazard is free, he knows he has ample time to play in a cross to Haaland.

However, Haaland has to evade two defenders — Jean-Clair Todibo and Salif Sane — in order to latch onto any pass. The Norwegian ran between the two, hoping Hazard would hit an accurate cross to bypass Sane and onto Haaland’s foot.

That is exactly what happened as Hazard whipped a cross towards Haaland, Sane was a split-second late to react and Haaland finished calmly past goalkeeper Markus Schubert.

The finish

The finish from Haaland deserves praise on its own.

The cross from Hazard is whipped into the box, so the pace on the ball is fierce. That means Haaland has to time his run properly while he’s briefly obstructed by Sane’s sliding tackle.

The ball is also bouncing along the grass as it’s speeding towards Haaland, so he could easily ricochet the ball off his shin and over the byline for a goal kick if he isn’t precise.

The speed of the ball and potential obstacles are evident in the clip below.

That’s why any claim of this being an easy tap-in for Haaland is unfair, even for a professional player. It’s a composed finish under difficult circumstances and it catapulted Dortmund to a marquee victory over their rivals.

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