A well deserved draw in Stuttgart
Borussia's series of four wins in a row ends in Stuttgart after a fair draw between the defending champions and the ones of 2007. The Swabian's lead by Serdar Taski in the 22nd minute was equalised by Lukasz Piszczek who scored in the extra time of the first half. Taking one point home, BVB dropped to third place in the Bundesliga table, but remains in a good position in the battle for next year's Champions League.
The game started with a 15 minutes delay due to a traffic jam -- nothing special in Stuttgart: The renovated Mercedes Benz Arena is closely located to the city centre, and Stuttgart's entire traffic situation is horrible. Nice ground though, after three years of reconstruction the arena now accomodates 60,000 people which are seated much closer to the pitch than before, as the stadium track has been abolished. Needless to say, the visit of the German champion was sold out, with some 8,000 supportes in black and yellow. An incredible number given the distance to Stuttgart, which forced the author to get up at 5.45 in the morning to catch the bus. Worthwile anyhow, as Borussia's performance was good from the beginning.
The young guns actually had an almost perfect start: Several scoring opportunities in the opening five minutes, and the best one for Lewandowski with only two minutes on the board: After Piszczeks cross from the right, the Polish striker was able to keep the ball against four opponents, but unfortunately hit the left post. And only a few seconds later, Götze with a nice shot from about 20 meters, but narrowly wide. Stuttgart, however, became better soon, starting with an attempt by left defender Molinaro who forced Weidenfeller to clear the ball for a corner kick. The game was balanced now, so Stuttgart's lead after 22 minutes was no surprise anymore: A free kick from the left side of the pitch was chipped beautifully to the second post by former Dortmund midfielder Tamas Hajnal, where Martin Harnik was standing open. His shot hit the right post, and defender Serdar Taski had no problems in scoring the rebound from five meters. One goal down, Borussia appeared somewhat instable for the next time, which the Swabians tried to exploit by keeping to attack. The best try was Cacau's header from ten meters, after Okazaki's shot had been defected. Luckily, the ball missed the goal.
It took Borussia some time to get back to the match, but before the end of the first half they did. Mario Götze with an eye-catching dribble close to the box, and once he got into it, Molinaro decided to stop him illegaly. The foul was actually obvious to any single person within the stadium, except for referee Manuel Gräfe. Another absurd decision against Borussia, remaining one of the three teams in Bundesliga who had not been awarded a penalty. Thus again no answer to the question, who's our new penalty specialist - and whether we will be able to score one again. Nevertheless, Borussia's hard work was rewarded right before the end of the first half, when Götze was giving the ball to Kagawa, the Japanese entered the box and passed beautifully to right, where the unmarked defender Lukasz Piszczek had an easy task from five meters.
Borussia had to change once in half time, as midfielder Sven Bender suffered from an ankle injury again he received during the Dresden game on Tuesday. He was replaced by the youngest gun, Moritz Leitner, an 18-year-old who came from Augsburg this summer and is now getting closer and closer to the starting line-up. The beginning was similar to the one of the first half. Borussia was dominant, but again no goal was scored. Closest was Kagawa, who had a nice try from right before the box in the 50th minute, but Stuttgart's goal keeper Sven Ulreich saved. One the other side, Kuzmanovic took the ball volley after a free kick for Stuttgart was cleared. A few minutes later it was again Kagawa, who had the best chance in the second half: As in earlier times he passed two opponents easily, which brought him right in front of Stuttgart's goal keeper Sven Ulreich. Unfortunately, his shot from seven meters ended over the goal.
The remainder of the match is simple to sum up. Stuttgart had a few opportunities, usually following free kicks and corners, whereas Dortmund appeared to the much better team from open play. Good chances were rare, until the final ten minutes, when Stuttgart had some obvious physical problems. After 89 minutes, a shot by Götze was cleared, and one of the following corner kicks found Subotic, whose header from seven meters was brilliantly saved by Ulreich. An annoying end for a good game by Borussia, as a game-winning goal in closing time was possible, but given Stuttgart's strength, both the result and our way of playing give cause for optimism regarding the next two matches against Piraeus and Wolfsburg before the international game day in two weeks.
VfB Stuttgart: Ulreich - Boulahrouz, Tasci, Maza, Molinaro - Kuzmanovic, Kvist - Harnik, Hajnal (Gentner, 90.+2), Okazaki (Traore, 70.) - Cacau (Hemlein, 78.)
Borussia Dortmund: Weidenfeller - Piszczek, Subotic, Hummels, Schmelzer - Kehl, Bender (Leitner, 46.) - Götze, Kagawa, Perisic (Großkreutz, 76.) - Lewandowski (Barrios, 72.)
Goals: 1:0 Tasci (22., Harnik), 1:1 Piszczek (45.+1, Kagawa)
Referee: Gräfe - Häcker, Dankert - Christ