So good to have back-up!
After some months of desperate waiting – even the European Cup could not replace the matches of the Bundesliga – Borussia Dortmund is back in League competition. The German champion and cup winner of 2011/2012 opened the 50th season with a 2-1 (1-0) victory over Werder Bremen. And of course, you have to be careful trying to find some conclusions out of this match. However, some things can definitely be seen as an outcome: First, it is good to have a back-up scorer on the bench. Second, the squad of this season has no reason to hide from the double winning team of last year. And third – and not less important – hell yeah, it is good to have the Bundesliga back!
Before the match
Jürgen Klopp had to make some changes to the line-up in comparison to the solid victory in Oberneuland last week. Lukasz Piszczek missed the match due to a minor injury and will hopefully be back next week in Nuremberg. His place was taken by Borussian newbie Oliver Kirch who made quite a good job in his first match for Dortmund. The second change saw Dortmunder Jung Kevin Großkreutz replacing Ivan Perisic even though the Croat showed a good performance in the cup which eventually was crowned with one goal. Klopp decided to bring Großkreutz back, however. Mario Götze remained on the bench, looking to gain some match practice after his injuries, not being back at 100%. Marco Reus formed the offensive midfield line alongside Großkreutz and Kuba, while the double-six was formed by Gündogan and Kehl, one reason being Sven Bender still out of action. The rest of the line-up was expectable: Subotic and Hummels as defenders, Marcel Schmelzer on the left and Robert Lewandowski up front.
Bremen's coach Thomas Schaaf on the other hand had a lot of possibilities, only missing Stevanovic. He started with the new acquisitions of Gebre Selassie on the left defensive side, Elia in the midfield and de Bruyne as the only real forward. Before the match, I saw Bremen as a serious opponent for our loved Ballspielverein and my expectation was underlined several times over the upcoming 90 minutes.
Before the match started, the Deutsche Fußball Liga (DFL) presented some sort of opening ceremony which was ignored by big parts of the supporters on the Südtribüne. Instead, the DFB was criticized by chants proclaiming that the DFB would destroy the sport of beautiful football. Seems legit concerning the fact that discussions about abolishing standing terraces in Germany came up in the summer break during the course of discussions about security in German stadiums or the use of pyro techniques. Furthermore, skipper Sebastian Kehl was forced to read an explanation against racism. So far, so good. However, the explanation also set the use of pyro techniques on the same level as racism which is nothing but stupid. Like stated before, the whole ceremony was greeted by whistles and other chants and not really welcomed by the fans on the Südtribüne. It was about time to go on with the match itself.
Of course, the match was not very old when the Südtribüne asked the whole stadium to raise up from their seaters to greet the German champion. The atmosphere in the Westfalenstadion was great once again and you could feel that everybody was happy to be back in the temple even though there were enough possibilities to increase the atmosphere even more. And just like Timo Konietzka did not need much time to score the first goal in the very first season 49 years ago, Borussia started with a bang. Kuba gives the assist to Marco Reus and for some reason, Bremen's Ignjovski manages not to clear the ball. Instead, Reus appears in front of goalkeeper Mielitz and answers all questions asked before the match whether he is able to make it in Dortmund. A nice shot in the long corner and the early lead for BVB (11th). No need to say that the stadium exploded for the first and surely not the last time this season.
However, seven minutes later, luck was with Borussia as Elia saw himself through on the last side of the pitch where Kirch had some problems to keep up with the technically gifted and fast Elia. But Elia's shot was saved by Roman Weidenfeller who shortened the ankle quite well and hardly left any space for Elia to score (18th). All in all, Bremen was – like stated before – the hard first opponent for Borussia. They presented a solid defense which put Borussia in front of some challenges and was hard to overcome and the fast midfielders Arnautovic and Elia presented some kind of danger from time to time. For example, a shot by Arnautovic only hit the left post after a corner kick from the left side (24th). Nobody could have complained if it had been 1-1 at this point of the match. Borussia had nothing to offer but some free kicks. One was taken by Schmelzer but saved by Mielitz and one taken by Reus went over the goal. Therefore, Bremen did not use their opportunities during half one and Borussia went to the break with a lead.
After the 1-0, the atmosphere in the temple slightly declined, but the supporters of the Ballspielverein came from a three-month break as well so there is enough time to get back to the incredible atmosphere of last season over the next couple of weeks. Fortunately, Borussia came back from the half more awake and saw Hummels nearly doubling the lead after a corner kick from the right taken by Schmelzer but Mielitz managed to save the ball at the cost of another corner with a great reaction (50th). Bremen kept on having opportunities on their own just like a cross from the right side by Arnautovic went to go on longer and longer, only to be eventually saved by Weidenfeller (63rd). Several seconds later, a long shot by Ignjovski who had a miserable day for the rest of the match, missed the goal. With 15 minutes to go on the clock, you could not lose the impression of Borussia taking the first goal of the long season and unfortunately, they did. After Subotic underestimated a cross from the left and probably thought it will not end up on the pitch, the ball came to Arnautovic who gave a great cross to the middle where Bremen's new acquisition Gebre Selassie extended the ball to make it 1-1 (75th).
At this point, it was a bitter but surely not undeserved tie even though I did not lose the confidence that Borussia would turn this result around again. The same could be said for the rest of the 20.000 supporters on the Südtribüne who directly responded with loud chants for Borussia and asked the rest of the stadium to stand up once again. Therefore, one of the parts responsible for the victory was the crowd in the temple. Jürgen Klopp reacted as well and brought Mario Götze for Kevin Großkreutz who had better days in black and yellow before. And how brilliant it is to have the kind of player like Mario Götze on the bench could be seen just three minutes after his substitution. With the best attack of Borussia during the whole 90 minutes, Kuba and Lewandowski assisted our number 10 who appeared in front of Mielitz and left him no chance. 2-1 Borussia and how important this goal is for Götze (81st). After several months of hard injuries and a European Cup where he did not get very much attention, Götze scored in the most beautiful colors of the world and gained some important self-confidence for the upcoming season. "The goal was a big relief for me", Götze stated after the match. "It was a great feeling to score in the own stadium again. It has felt like an eternity." And I dare to say that it will not feel like an eternity once again, Mario. However, the match was not over and Borussia had the opportunity to make it 3-1 after a nice shot by Robert Lewandowski in minute 89. However, Mielitz was once again there to rescue. Four minutes earlier, Petersen would have had a great opportunity to equal the score once again but the ball sprang from his knee directly besides the goal.
Not an easy victory for Borussia, but surely an important one to gain self-confidence for the upcoming 33 matches. Borussia is now undefeated in Bundesliga competition for 29 days and willing to expand this series next Saturday in Nuremberg. However, you could see that the team is not at 100 per cent even though they are still able to play a pretty nice match. Furthermore, the strength and broadness of the Borussians was very visible on this Friday evening. Who would not wish to have Mario Götze in the starting line up? We have him on the bench, able to bring him in for ten minutes and to eventually bring the victory. Bundesliga is back, Borussia started with a victory and finally, weekends have some sense once again! And I'm pretty sure that we will have enough fun with this team over the course of the season.
Borussia Dortmund: Weidenfeller - Kirch, Subotic, Hummels, Schmelzer - Gündogan, Kehl - Blaszczykowski, Reus, Großkreutz – Lewandowski
Subs: Leitner for Gündogan (71st), Götze for Großkreutz (78th), Perisic for Kirch (82nd)
Werder Bremen: Mielitz - Gebre Selassie, Prödl, Sokratis, Ignjovski - Fritz - Arnautovic, Junuzovic, Hunt, Elia - de Bruyne
Subs: Petersen for Ignjovski (66th), Füllkrug for Hunt (87th)
Goals: 1-0 Reus (11th), 1-1 Gebre Selassie (75th), 2-1 Götze (81st)
Referee: Zwayer (Berlin)
Bookings: Gündogan, Kehl – Ignjovski, Junuzovic
Attendance: 80.645 (sold-out Westfalenstadion)