Rehearsal one: fight back
In times when the (German) football world revolves around Wembley and nothing else seems to matter, it is odd to travel to a city like Wolfsburg (Could one actually call this assembly of cars, factories and car factories a city?) and play a Bundesliga game that is of no importance at all. Sure, there are still things to achieve: secure our second place in the league, stay unbeaten for some more games, keep up the concentration for the final. But honestly, the only thing anyone really cared about today was that all players come out of the league healthy and in good shape. Everything else seemed unimportant and meaningless. Moreover, it’s even stranger that there are people who had to pay almost as much for their tickets in Wolfsburg as for the CL-final tickets. The unbelievably high ticket prices were the reason why 2’000 BVB-fans stayed out of the stadium for the first 20 minutes of the game. Their protest was widely heard and covered by the media. After our Borussia had announced earlier this month that they would not raise so-called “top-game surcharges” for away supporters any longer, the positive coverage (at least in the pay TV channel) was another success for the “Kein Zwanni”-campaign. They missed some of the action, though. When they finally entered the stadium, it was already one each. But let’s start at the beginning and talk about football. Jürgen Klopp wanted to make a rehearsal for the final and sent almost the usual starting eleven to the pitch. Only Subotic and Kuba were left on the bench. Santana was replacing Subotic, Grosskreutz played for Kuba, Reus and Piszczek were back on and Gündogan played on the “10”.
The team seemed to have understood the message and went full throttle from the beginning. After five minutes, Bender the offender scored. A free kick from Reus to Sahin, the cross came to Iron Manni and he deflected the ball just enough to fool the keeper. It was quite easy, too easy. Borussia was satisfied and immediately stopped the concentration, the football and anything that would slightly resemble fighting. This gave the VW team enough space to create danger and the first shot was the equalizer. Former BVB player Perisic didn’t really celebrate his goal. That was not because he didn’t want to, but because Santana had managed to ram his elbow in Perisic’s stomach when trying to stop him from scoring. So one could argue that this goal actually hurt Perisic more than our Borussia. But unfortunately, neither that nor the audible return of the BVB-fans did seem to wake up the Borussen. Santana’s thoughts were somewhere between the header against Donetzk and the winning goal against Malaga, but not in Wolfsburg on that day. Hummels was in first gear and the rest seemed to avoid all physical contact with the opponent to save themselves from injuries. Perisic said “thanks” again and this time, he could celebrate his goal. It was the 4th this season. Two against Hamburg for Borussia, two against Borussia today. It still didn’t change anything. The gaps in the defence were big enough to let through even the biggest VW car and after a corner, it was 3:1. Naldo had all the space he could dream of in the box and finished it off. A little later, Santana had almost repeated his Donetsk-header, only the post saved him from the goal – Weidenfeller would have been helpless. Then they let go Olic and could only watch how the ball passed the right post on the wrong side. The spirit was completely missing and Klopp`s face started to resemble the one of Hoeness facing the tax inspector. Luckily, the first half finally ended. Thank football god!
Kuba and Schieber were replacing Grosskreutz and Bender. Dortmund came out of the break wide awake on and off the pitch. The support which already was in favour of our Borussia after 20 minutes when the Dortmund supporters joined, now reached the usual BVB-level and therefore drowned the home fans completely. Also the team seemed to finally reach a concentration level worth mentioning and immediately got the game back in their hands. Even though Wolfsburg still had some good chances, Borussia was to be taken seriously in the second half. Lewandowski had a chance to come closer to the top scorer trophy, but missed. Then it was Schieber’s turn, but he also missed two big chances because he couldn’t control the ball. Sahin who was one of the worst in the first half, but also came back stronger in the second half, missed the next chance with a shot from outside the box. Borussia was the better team now, but still far away from being continuously dangerous or highly concentrated. It took until minute 76 before we could finally see some determination. Klopp changed Santana for Leitner and transmitted a clear message: offence first. Hummels was now more or less the only defender, assisted by Gündogan. Piszczek and Schmelzer clearly got the instruction to forget about anything behind the middle line and the rest was ordered into the box. In Icehockey, coaches sometimes train powerplay and boxplay situations and it somehow seemed as if Klopp tried to test a “we-need-two-goals-and-fast” situation. Wolfsburg was shocked first and Borussia didn’t lose possession for quite some time, without creating a really dangerous situation. And just when it seemed that the magic of the change had passed, Gündogan played a long ball to Reus. Unfortunately, it was a bit too long and the goalkeeper had no problem to... oh no, wait... let’s start again: Gündogan played a long ball to Reus. He could easily take it, walk towards the keeper, who was frozen somewhere around the penalty spot, and score. He took the ball, ran towards the centre spot and then suddenly seemed to realize that this “we-need-two-goals-and-fast” situation was only a test, not the real deal. He stopped halfway and patiently walked back into his own half. The equalizer was looming above the most beautiful stadium in the whole city (well no, I don’t know, there’ll probably be a better one somewhere...) before it actually fell. It was again Reus who finally wanted to play some football on that day. Piszczek gave the assist to the second goal in three minutes, while the Wolfsburg defence had already stopped their working day a few minutes earlier. It felt good, even though it wasn’t really important. Loosing sucks, no matter how unimportant the game and so we all felt some joy.
The game was not the centre of the attention today, even though it was quite amusing with the 70 open goal minutes that Borussia allowed Wolfsburg and the 5 minutes of attack that compensated those. It was also quite comforting to see how much we can achieve by only believing in it – not for the first time this season. Far more important than all that were other things: none of the players got injured and we secured the second place in the Bundesliga for sure today. And then there was this big message from the fans that football has to be affordable for everyone! In the line with this fight against modern football, there was also the result in Hamburg which pushed “project Hoppenheim” to the edge of the Bundesliga. We only need to finish them off next weekend. Let’s do that with the fighting spirit of the last 10 minutes today and we can wave them out when they return back to where they belong. And after that, we will all go to London and hopefully celebrate the biggest party of all the past party-years! Let’s do it, Borussia!!!