Don't shoot the bear before selling the fur
It was the fear of many fans travelling to Stuttgart on this beautiful sunny Spring day that we would witness a “Hamburg reloaded” game. And a “Hamburg reloaded” game was what we got. Only not of exactly the one Hamburg game we all had in mind, luckily.
There were a lot of bad feelings around when referee Weiner blew the first whistle. First and foremost, there was the pricing issue. Tickets for the game were incredibly expensive and even worse, almost 40% more expensive than the same tickets for the same place in the same stadium in the same season against another opponent. This is our continuous penalty for having a big travelling support and a great team – or shortly put: for being attractive. While several other clubs have really set a step forward and removed this so called “top game surcharge” – at least for the away supporters – Stuttgart have not. The Swabians are said to be slower and stingier then the rest of the republic and, unfortunately, it seems to be true. In this matter anyway, they move slow and they have long pockets and short arms. In combination, this meant that had to pay the toll of either pay between €21.50 and more than €70 for the game against a relegation candidate (Well yes, think of that: you are not as attractive for us as we are for you!) or stay home. Two of the three Ultra groups decided for the latter, so that we also could expect a struggle to get the away support coordinated and going.
The next thing was the police in Stuttgart. Already being known as quite willing to use the bat instead of words, they were also instructed to decline the fans admission to the beer garden next to the guest entrance after some time. Due to the fact that the pub was mainly filled with away supporters anyway, it was an instruction that not even the agents understood. And still, they wouldn’t just let go of it.
And finally, there was the fear that we would may not win this game which was mainly important as the blue scum managed to get in front of us in the ranking due to their Friday game win. Considering how we used to play before Champions League games, how we have a long history of helping unstable teams to new life and with the combination of the two in Hamburg recently, the confidence wasn’t really the one of a runner-up facing a relegation candidate. It was us in pre-CL-mode facing a team needing every point they can get. A perfect setting for being the “build-up opponent” (as we sometimes like to call ourselves in German) once more.
At least the weather was perfect and the drinks tasted good, so we were determined to enjoy it as much as we could!
I would love to tell you that none of the above mentioned fears came true, but unfortunately it was a perfect description of the first 20 minutes. Only the support was better than expected (but far from usual, of course) with a loud “Heja BVB” to start with and only little completely silent moments. And the game didn’t help to get us going either. It all started in minute 09 when Kirch (who played for Sahin) decided to play a back pass from a back pass from a back pass and was mistaken in the colours. He was put under pressure by Gentner and he hasn’t had a lot of game practice lately, but still it was such an easy mistake that one could almost consider it to be an own goal, because Gentner had now difficulties to get the ball past Weidenfeller. The earliest deficit for Borussia Dortmund this season and it only got worse. Sure, we tried, but with the second huge mistake 10 minutes later, it was 2:0 already. Durm let go his opponent much too easily and Hummels and Sokratis in the middle decided to both defend Ibisevic, leaving Harnik completely blank and because Traore had no issues of passing Durm, it was an easy goal for Harnik. If there was someone who hadn’t had that kind of thoughts from the beginning, now most certainly every single supporter of Borussia Dortmund – in Stuttgart or at home – had flashbacks of the Hamburg game. But there was a difference to the Hamburg game, thank football god. The difference was that we wouldn’t give up that easily. That we weren’t surprised and just walk towards the abyss with our eyes wide open as we did in Hamburg. We finally started fighting. Already after the first goal, but most certainly after the last of Stuttgart’s chances some minutes after the 2:0 when Ibisevic missed a huge chance for the 3:0, we took on the fight. Lewandowksi and Grosskreutz missed two big chances before Hofman played a beautiful pass to Reus who could score. And only seconds later, after one of the typical, beautiful Borussia-attacks, Mkhitaryan’s shot was deflected by the top of the toe of Ulreich and therefore missed the goal by inches. Stuttgart wasn’t Hamburg either. The lead hadn’t given them a lot of extra confidence. They seemed surprised by their own courage and acted like a rabbit that has just accidentally woken up a snake. This led to our thoughts in the halftime being the complete opposite of the ones we had before kick-off. One had the feeling that this couldn’t really go wrong anymore, even though we were still behind. And we now finally could enjoyed the sun.
Stuttgart regained a little composure after the break, but it didn’t stop our control of the game much. Sure, we could still have acted a little more structured, but all in all it was a good away game now. Also the coordination of the support was getting better and with the course of the game almost reached “normal” in the end. Still having complete control over the game, we had to wait till minute 68 for the next real chance. It was a great pass to Lewandowski who made a move towards the penalty area where butcher Niedermeier did what he can do best and got himself sent off for it. It wasn’t a bad foul, he only tugged Lewandowski, but he was the last man, he was already booked and he couldn’t complain. Reus took the penalty and very coolly made it 2:2, grabbing the ball when he ran back towards the middle line. It was a good sign to see that and it was now clearly visible that none of our players would want to leave with only one point. Still it took another 15 minutes and some smaller chances to finally get the deserved lead. Before we did, the referee injured himself and had to be replaced by one of his assistant. And then, Aubameyang got the ball at the sideline and left his opponents light-years behind within seconds just to stop in the last moment, look up, see Reus and play the pass. Reus shot and the ball go deflected by the hand of Schwaab to hit the net. Finally we had the result that had been hanging in the air for some time and because Stuttgart missed their last – and only – chance in the second half, we won. It was the first time since 2003, a home game against Hamburg, that we could turn a 0:2 into a victory. So in the end, we had a “Hamburg reloaded” feeling of another kind. A good one. And the sun was just perfect!
We shouldn’t get used to the sun too much, though, as they forecast rain for Madrid. But I would love to get used to this beautiful feeling of sweet victories again – maybe even in Madrid...
VfB Stuttgart: Ulreich – Schwaab, Rüdiger, Niedermeier, Boka – Traore, Gruezo, Gentner, Harnik – Ibisevic, Didavi
Borussia Dortmund: Weidenfeller – Grosskreutz, Sokratis, Hummels, Durm – Kirch, Kehl – Hofmann, Mkhitaryan, Reus – Lewandowski
Substitutions: 60th Maxim for Didavi, 70th Sakai for Traore, 86. Cacau for Harnik – 60th Sahin and Aubameyang for Kirch and Mkhitaryan, 76th Jojic for Hofmann
Goals: 1:0 Gentner (9th), 2:0 Harnik (19th, Traore), 2:1 Reus (30th, Hofmann), 2:2 Reus (68th, penalty, Niedermeier on Lewandowski), 2:3 Reus (83rd, Aubameyang)
Referee: Weiner (substituted by Grudzinski in minute 76)
Red card: Niedermeier (67th, cynical foul)
Yellow cards: Niedermeier – Kirch, Grosskreutz