There are many stadiums in the world that are called „hell“. In most cases, especially if it’s the fans or the clubs calling their own stadium like that, there’s not much behind it. The media take it over, use it over and over again, but it doesn’t make it any more true. Every away supporter travelling there will be disappointed.
But there are some exceptions. The stadium of Galatasaray sure is such an exception and the impressive choreo in honor of the club’s history added to the already hot atmosphere. When the players entered the pitch, there was a huge noise welcoming them.
Galatasaray was full of confidence after their last minute victory in the cup-derby the past weekend and one could most certainly hear that – even on TV.
Borussia on the other hand was down. Three consecutive defeats in the Bundesliga, seven points out of eight games, 14th in the standing, the worst start in living history, it was all black.
The starting XI, being Weidenfeller, Piszczek, Subotic, Hummels, Sokratis, Kehl, Bender, Mkhitaryan, Kagawa, Reus and Aubameyang, were accompanied by hope rather than faith.
But when the Champions League anthem started, one could feel confidence returning. Because it was Champions League and in the Champions League, everything is different.
It took about 5 minutes to silence the hell of Istanbul. Hummels got the ball and played it on to Mkhitaryan who, being all his pre-injured self again, played a wonderful pass to Reus who showed all his long-missed class when he passed to the middle where Aubameyang had no issues to pass the goalkeeper with a strong shot from short distance. It was so simple. No fuss, no thinking, no passing around the box. Just three straight passes and a shot. Seeing our Borussia score like that immediately raised one question: “Why not always like that?”
The Turks obviously didn’t like the early goal too much. The team on the pitch had troubles to get even a toe in the game and the fans were in some sort of shock. And it didn’t help that Borussia just copied the first attack some 12 minutes later. Another nice pass from Mkhitaryan (he really shouldn’t always send his twin brother to play the Bundesliga games...) to Piszczek who doubted for a moment if all the space in front of him really was all his own and then eventually decided that it was and passed to the middle where Aubameyang had to lift his foot a little higher than the first time, but still scored. Now there really was silence. Only in the background, a passionate “Liebe auf den ersten Blick” was heard.
It took not much longer and another exact copy of the first attack almost led to the third goal. This time it was Mkhitaryan himself who played the pass to the middle, but Aubameyang failed to score a hat trick by less than an inch. From the inside of the post, the ball passed a player lying on the line and then missed the other post. It was clear now that this game was decided. Too bad was the defence of Galatasaray, to stable the one of Borussia. One big save of Subotic against Burak solved the only difficult situation in the first half.
But just before the end, Reus had to show that he was back. And back with a bang! It was minute 41. Reus had the ball somewhere around 30 meters outside the box. He tried to play a pass, but couldn’t find a recipient, so he lifted his head, took a close look and shot. The ball hit the goal at the top left corner. What a goal! Now the silence in Istanbul turned into mild applause for the opponent to accompany a brilliantly playing Borussia to the well-deserved break.
It was probably quite easy for Klopp to find the right words this time. ”Just go on like that.” would have been sufficient and looking at how fast he was back on the pitch, he couldn’t have said a lot more than that. His idea of having Sokratis replace Grosskreutz as left-back brought some stability. Of course Sokratis is not a left-back who will start attacks or pass the winger in attack. Sokratis is a player that will shoot the ball out of the stadium if necessary and that is just what we need at the moment. No fuss, no dangerous playing around in the box, no beautiful unprofitable arts. Like no other, this change symbolized what Borussia did right in this game. And once the defence is stable, the offence can shine.
Each attack of Borussia was dangerous. Because of the brilliant talents of Kagawa, Reus, Mkhitaryan and Gündogan and the speed and good timing of Aubameyang. But also because of the bunch of chicken that pretended to be the Turkish defence. Galatasaray gave us all the space we could have asked for and their defence instability reminded me of our own in the past games.
In the second half, Borussia could take the foot off the gas a little. Galatasaray had the ball for most of the time, but couldn’t create anything remotely dangerous. Even star player Sneijder couldn’t help that. In fact, he hardly touched the ball if it wasn’t for the set-pieces.
The only setback was the injury of Bender. Iron Manni had to be replaced by Ginter in minute 55 with a suspected broken elbow. And for the next 15 minutes, it seems as if Bender was still on the pitch. Ginter did a great job in replacing Iron Manni in every way, not to mention the physical resemblance.
When Gündogan replaced Hummels some 15 minutes afterwards, Ginter went back to the defence and spent a quiet rest of the game.
Gündogan on the other hand had the possibility to shine. In minute 83, he made a brilliant move and played a perfect pass to Ramos who sealed the deal with his first touch of the ball.
Was it really that simple? Scoring goals, winning a game? Everything that has been so difficult lately looked so easy against Galatasaray. It wasn’t all our own doing, but it’s hard to imagine that the Turkish top team could be less of a challenge than Cologne, Hamburg or Stuttgart. Also I don’t believe that the coach of a regular Champions League participant would be less able to find appropriate tactics than the newly appointed manager of a struggling Bundesliga dinosaur. It’s all in our heads and in our own tactics. To put the focus on defence was just the right thing to do. It gave us the confidence and calm needed to play our own game. The early goal and the attacking football of Galatasaray of course played into our hands, but it was mainly our own doing. We froze the hell of Istanbul in only 30 minutes!
Now pretend that the floodlights are shining and the Champions League anthem is playing on Saturday against Hannover and we will be able to do the same in the Bundesliga.
Galatasaray: Muslera – Tarik Cemdal, Chedjou, Semih Kaya, Alex Telles – Hamit Altintop, Felipe Melo, Selcuk Inan – Sneijder – Pandev, Burak Yilmaz
Borussia Dortmund: Weidenfeller - Piczcek, Subotic, Hummels, Sokratis - Bender, Kehl - Mkhitaryan, Kagawa, Reus - Aubameyang
Substitutions: 61th Dzemaili for Altintop, 62th Öztekin for Alex Telles, 78th Colak for Pandev - 55th Ginter for Bender, 69th Gündogan for Hummels, 82th Ramos for Kagawa
Goals: 0:1 Aubameyang (6th, Reus), 0:2 Aubameyang (18th, Piszczek), 0:3 Reus (41th, Kagawa), 0:4 Ramos (83th, Gündogan)
Referee: Lahoz (ESP)
Yellow cards: Sneijder, Kaya; -