New year, old sorrows
1st halfAfter 2 minutes, however, things went bad again. Kuba turned his leg badly when he tried to get the ball at the sideline and tore his ACL. It all came back in a second, the team, the fans, all in shock. The new year started just as the old had ended and that wasn`t good news. But at the beginning, the shock turned into something good. The good pressing and the nice passing that Borussia had shown from the beginning resulted in a free kick only seconds after Kuba had left the pitch and was replaced by Aubameyang. Reus took it fast, Blender knew exactly where to run and had no problems to head the ball into the goal, being completely alone. It should have been a lift for the spirit of the teams and the fans, but it didn’t really turn out this way. There were more chances, good chances, but we were back in 2013, none of them could be converted into another goal. Mkhitaryan showed some good moments, as did Lewandowski, but Reus was far away from his usual self. It was a pity to see him like that, knowing what he can do with a ball. In defensive midfield, Kehl and Sahin are just not fast enough to keep up the pace in pressing, resulting in the 4 upfront running for nothing and themselves being overrun far too often. And after some time, Augsburg realized all that and took over, having 61% ball possession at some point. And even though they didn’t manage to create any danger in front of Weidenfellers goal at all, we were out of control once more, chasing after the ball and the opponent. The only positive thing when the referee finally blew the whistle was that we were leading.
2nd halfThis feeling unfortunately didn’t stay for long. The first real (counter) attack of Augsburg led to the equalizer in minute 56. Bender scored for the second time that day, but on the wrong side, after a nice cross that he didn’t manage to deflect in the way he wanted to. That was the first wake up call for the fans who also struggled to find their form in the same way as the team. Long, loud “Borussia, Borussia”-chants pushed the team a little bit, lifted the heads on the pitch and it only took 10 minutes until we were awarded another promising free kick. With Reus, Aubameyang and Schmelzer, we had three players on the pitch who already converted a free kick into a goal this season which is quite something! But we also have Nuri Sahin and just like back in the “good old times”, 3 years ago, against Bayern, he shot this free kick and everyone in the stadium already knew that it would go in even before he had hit it. It was just perfect. And more than that, it was very, very necessary. Leading again, Augsburg still without a real chance or a shot on the goal at all, this should have been it. But then Ji came. Ji, the one we already engaged for the next season. And just in the way that everyone knew that Sahins free kick would result in a goal, everyone knew that he would score against us. It was just a matter of time – 3 minutes later we saw what we already knew. 2:2, the next equalizer, a header by Ji. And if the team still was playing a little football up to that moment, they finally stopped completely at that point. No more passes to reach the teammates, no more chances, no more Borussia. Sure, they tried, but the more they tried, the worse it got. Klopp later described it on the press conference: “The longer the game went on, the more the team tensed up.” They wanted too much, too badly, not going home again without 3 points at home. And they didn’t succeed.
AftermathTrue, this feels like a huge defeat. Not only that we didn’t succeed to win the 3 points at home for the 4th time in a row, we also lost an important player and we got the feeling that nothing changed during the winter break which is probably the worst feeling of all. But there are some good things we shouldn’t forget. The set-play moments were improved dramatically. Not only the two free kicks that lead to a goal, also the corner kicks and other free kicks were really dangerous – something we haven’t seen in years. Second, I got the feeling that Mkhitaryan and also Aubameyang got a better feeling for the pressing and the ways of their teammates, especially in the first 15 minutes when we were still in good shape, this was clearly visible and a good sign for the future. Finally, due to the expected defeat of Gladbach and the surprising defeat of Leverkusen, we could even gain something from that point as we are now back on the 3rd place again and only 4 more points behind Leverkusen.
Sure, this also means that we missed a big chance to get even closer, but it is at least something. My biggest hope for the future is that Hummels and Gündogan will be back again soon. Maybe even in the next game. We will have more creativity in the back rows and Bender can go back to the defensive midfield again, making it more flexible and especially faster. So even though we are allowed to be disappointed, we also have a lot of reasons to keep up the hope. Go, black and yellow boys!
Borussia Dortmund: Weidenfeller – Großkreutz, Bender, Sokratis, Schmelzer –Sahin, Kehl – Blaszczykowski, Mkhitaryan, Reus - Lewandowski
FC Augsburg: Hitz - Verhaegh, Callsen-Bracker, Klavan, Ostrzolek - Baier - Hahn, Vogt, Altintop, Werner – Bobadilla
Substitutions: 6th Aubameyang for Blaszczykowski, 84th Schieber for Mkhitaryan – 35th Milik for Altintop, 69th Ji for Bobadilla, 88th Hong for Milik
Goals: 1:0 Bender (5th, free kick Reus), 1:1 Bender (56th, own goal, Hahn), 2:1 Sahin (66th, free kick), 2:2 Ji (72th, Hahn)
Referee: Welz (Wiesbaden), yellow cards: Bender, Sokratis - Hahn, Werner
Spectators: 80.645 (sold out)