Once again the DFB-Pokal proved that it is just not for us. Once again we travelled to some minor league team just to see our hopes of making the next step towards the much desired final in Berlin getting crushed. Once again we feel like Bill Murray waking up in Punxsutawney just to go to through the same old misery over and over again. This time BVB did not even have the mercy of going down after 90 minutes, but we had to live through 30 minutes of extra-time and a penalty shoot-out, that brought up fundamental questions about the ability of our most expensive strikers. Let´s just hope that groundhog cup won´t set the Borussia weather for the next six weeks.
Borussia Dortmund´s outstanding cup record
Yes we have won the cup in 1989, when stadium announcer Nobby Dickel scored twice and became the "Held von Berlin" as which he is still celebrated by the Südtribübe at every home game. And yes, we have reached the final 2008 and lost after a fierce fight against Bayern Munich in extra time on the last day of the terrible Thomas Doll regime. But other than that our cup history since 1989 has been a series of shameful defeats in the first few rounds often enough by bush-league teams having the day of their lives.
Take a look at the "achievements" of the mighty Borussia in the DFB-Pokal since our glorious win of 1989:
89/90: 2nd round Braunschweig, 2nd Bundesliga
90/91: 1st round Fürth, 4th division (Landesliga)
91/92: 2nd round Hannover, 2nd Bundesliga
92/93: round of 16 Bremen, Bundesliga
93/94: 2nd round Jena, 2nd Bundesliga
94/95: 2nd round Lautern, Bundesliga
95/96: quarterfinal Karlsruhe, Bundesliga
96/97: 1st round Wattenscheid, 3rd division (Regionalliga)
97/98: round of 16 Trier, 3rd division (Regionalliga)
98/99: round of 16 Stuttgart, Bundesliga
99/00: 3rd round Stuttgarter Kicker, 2nd Bundesliga
00/01: 3rd round Derby, Bundesliga
01/02: 1st round Wolfsburg II(!), 4th division (Oberliga)
02/03: 2nd round Freiburg, 2nd Bundesliga
03/04: 2nd round Gladbach, Bundesliga
04/05: round of 16 Hannover, Bundesliga
05/06: 1st round Braunschweig, 2nd Bundesliga
06/07: 2nd round Hannover, Bundesliga
07/08: final Munich, Bundesliga
08/09: round of 16 Bremen, Bundesliga
09/10: round of 16 Osnabrück, 3rd League
10/11: 2nd round Offenbach, 3rd League
So it is no big surprise that the stomach of the dedicated BVB supporter starts to turn whenever a cup match is on the schedule.
The futile siege
The story of the game is told fast and you´ve all heard it before. The underdog lines up around his penalty box and fights with all he has to keep the favourite from scoring. The favourite who might have thought that things would go a bit smoother, besieges the fortress but lacks the inspiration to get through the enemy´s lines.
In this case Borussia tried their luck with wide crosses far too often, seeking to find the head of Lucas Barrios, still not realising that he is not Jan Koller. Also the occasional dribble through the centre proved to be unsuccessful. The wings lay bare most of the time as neither Schmelzer nor Piszczek could make any profit of the room they were offered on the sidelines. The match soon developed into a tenacious attrition fight. I spare you with the boring details, let´s hear what the protagonists had to say about it.
Roman Weidenfeller: “We should have decided the match in 90 or at least 120 minutes. We had 80-90% possession but that´s still not enough to win a cup fight like that.” Mats Hummels adds to the picture: “Offenbach was only looking for the lucky punch. We made wrong decisions in offence all the time or we got unlucky. It´s all about taking the chances you get and we did not do that today.” We all can agree to that. It got a bit more dubious when he added “We had a lot of opportunities to score.” We did not see too many of those, mostly the attacks did not even penetrate the Offenbach box and if they did, the magnificent Cerberus Wulnikowski would grab every cross with ease.
For sure Hummels is right with the rest of his analysis: “Offenbach stood very deep to build a wall around their box. And we did not manage to score the one goal, that would have been enough to win this game.”
Midfield leader Nuri Sahin was also struggling to find a way through the Offenbach defence, that stood so tight even his passing genius would see no way to penetrate it. “We tried to force a goal, but the longer they managed to avoid that, the more motivated the opponent gets, because they start to believe in their chance to win” described the young Turk the ongoing fight.
Coach Jürgen Klopp tried not to be too hard on his young team: “There is little to critisize until the last 25m to the goal. We did not even give Offenbach any chances for counter attacks, only by set pieces they came close to our penalty box. That´s how you have to play here. But in the zone in front of their goal we were not consequent enough and we did not get lucky in front of the goal.”
In Extra-time the match got even worse. Offenbach had only the penalty shoot-out in mind and the BVB team was paying the toll for playing a match every three days or so for weeks. The stamina was fading, young-gun Mario Götze, one of few BVB-players to produce the occasional good idea, had to be replaced due to muscle cramps and the hope of the supporters that their team could score reached an all-time low.
The not-so-grand finale
Then came the penalty shoot out. Every BVB supporter knows that Roman Weidenfeller is like a magnet that reverses its polarity when it comes to penalties. Where he usually attracts the ball to hit his body throughout the game and makes the most incredible saves, once a penalty is awarded to our opponent, the only thing we can hope for, is that the shot misses the goal. Because by some witchcraft Weidenfeller is always drawn into the opposite corner the ball is flying to. Not this time though: He saved the first penalty by Haas and treacherous hope spread amongst the black´n´yellow crowd. Would we really succeed in a shoot-out? Sahin who had missed the penalty against Hoppenheim scored. But then things went downwards for BVB the usual way. And it were our most expensive strikers Barrios and Lewandowski who both shot their penalties so sloppily that Wulnikowski almost could not avoid them.
So we woke up in the same nightmare we are used to live through almost every year: It´s groundhog cup once more...
Some final words by our coach and prime Midfielder, decide for yourself if they sound hollow or offer some pain-relief...
Klopp: "We have to accept that and that´s hard for us because we wanted to reach the next round by all means. But that´s us. That´s my team and I will put my neck on the line for them at all times. Today it was not enough and we will have to talk about that and carry on. There is not only sunshine in this job, but there are harder days as well and today was super-hard. That hurts everybody. It hurts the club, the fans and the team as well."
Sahin: "Penalty shoot-outs are a lottery and often the underdog is more lucky when it comes to that. That´s bitter for us. We knew that set-backs could come at some point. Now the set-back has happened, the next step in our development has to be how we cope with that. We have an important match on Sunday, so we have to hold our heads up high and get those three points at Mainz. We were not tired today. You can´t keep running up and down the pitch when your opponent is standing this deep."
Offenbach: Wulnikowski - Lamprecht, Kopilas, Husterer, Teixeira - Haas, Mehic - Hesse, Feldhahn, Da Costa (74. Telch) - Occean (84. Rathgeber).
Dortmund: Weidenfeller - Piszczek, Subotic, Hummels, Schmelzer - da Silva (81. Le Tallec), Sahin - Götze (90.+1 Feulner), Kagawa (67. Großkreutz), Lewandowski - Barrios.
Ref: Knut Kircher (Rottenburg)
Attendance: 25.000 (sold out – about 5.000 BVB supporters)
Booked: Lamprecht - Hummels
Shoot-out: Weidenfeller saves against Haas, 0:1 Sahin, 1:1 Feldhahn, Wulnikowski saves against Barrios, 2:1 Kopilas, 2:2 Le Tallec, 3:2 Rathgeber, Wulnikowski saves against Lewandowski, 4:2 Mehic