Borussia Dortmund gained a UEFA Champions League spot for the first time since November through an inspired Niklas Füllkrug performance.

Niklas Füllkrug became the second player on match day 19 to secure a hat-trick, following Deniz Undav's three goals against RB Leipzig.

VfL Bochum, despite losing, will not be too worried seeing as they are eight points off the bottom three.

Also, with games against bottom three teams like Mainz and 1. FC Köln still to come, they have opportunities to gain even more wins.

An own goal by Nico Schlotterbeck just before half-time meant that VfL Bochum had some hope of getting into the match in the second half.

With around one-and-a-half expected goals (xG), Borussia Dortmund managed to show their clinical nature in putting three past Bochum.

The result meant that Bochum remained in fourteenth place and only three points off Heidenheim in tenth.

This also proved to be Bochum's first loss in 2024 with their previous results being a win against Stuttgart and a draw against Werder Bremen.

Borussia Dortmund are still yet to be beaten in the Bundesliga in 2024 and are one of only six teams to be without defeat this calendar year. 

Borussia Dortmund Have Turned Around Their Season

 

Despite only being in January, it looks like Borussia Dortmund have done a 360 on their season. 

With the club still in the UEFA Champions League with a more than winnable tie against PSV Eindhoven, Dortmund look like they are going to have a historic campaign. 

The signings of Jadon Sancho and Ian Maatsen have helped on the pitch.

Not only this, but they also boosted the morale of both the Yellow Wall and the squad.

Coach Edin Terzic, who was previously under immense pressure at the club due to poor results before the winter break, looks to be staying for the rest of the season.

Borussia Dortmund will look to reach the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals for the first time since 2021 in February.

VfL Bochum Only Need to Win Three More Wins to Stay Up

 

Given their recent form before the Borussia Dortmund game,  VfL Bochum are comfortably able to stay up with three more wins this season.

Wins against Union Berlin and VfB Stuttgart have meant that VfL Bochum have overachieved in a season where the priority has been Bundesliga safety ahead of everything else.

The fragility of the teams below them means that Bochum will require less points than usual to avoid the bottom three.

 

Niklas Füllkrug Has Returned to his Former Self

 

After a goal drought which saw him wait until match day six to score his first Bundesliga goal, Niklas Füllkrug has regained his composure.

Nine goals in nineteen games means he is Borussia Dortmund's top scorer.

As well as this, he is on track to break his record of sixteen goals he set last season which saw him become the Bundesliga's top scorer.

Not only has he been key in securing goals for Borussia Dortmund, but also he has given the club five assists

This means he is only behind Julian Brandt in terms of assists for Dortmund.

With recent striking options for Dortmund like Anthony Modeste and Karim Adeyemi not having the upmost success, it seems as if Borussia Dortmund have found a mainstay in Füllkrug.

Thomas Letsch Might Become Bochum's Best Manager in Recent History

 

With clever attacking passages and a certain clinical nature in front of goal, Letsch has transformed this average Bochum side. 

Tightening up the defence in keeping three clean sheets, Thomas Letsch has made himself a beloved man in the city.

Letsch has managed to turn Manuel Riemann into one of the best keepers in the Bundesliga with a save quota of seventy-four this campaign.

Bochum have now won almost two-thousand duels (the highest number of any team in the Bundesliga) and are one of the hardest-working sides in the league.

Previously working at Austria Wien and Erzebirge Aue, this stint at VfL Bochum may be his best at any club he's been at.

 

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About the author
Moritz Baer
Sports Journalist based in Bournemouth. Runs own website (https://www.futmo.com/).