A lucky unlucky win
For the second time in four weeks, the holy Westfalenstadion was filled with joy and relief: Starting into the day as the last of the table, a well deserved win against Hoffenheim got Borussia back into business. A header by Gündogan, after a nice cross by Aubameyang, was the only score in yet another 1-0 win at home. But just as in the game against Mönchengladbach a couple of game days ago, the result looks much closer than the game actually was. From the beginning on, Borussia was dominant on home ground, and the early goal by the German international Gündogan, his first goal after missing almost the entire 2013-14 campaign, laid the ground for a weekend of celebration in the city of Dortmund.
For the first time since the Champions League final, Borussia's outstanding final four from the years 2010-2013 started in a competitive game. After the injury suffered in Munich, Mats Hummels returned as a full back, and it was apparent to everyone in the stadium that his presence on the pitch was responsible for a huge gain in defensive stability, both physically and psychologically. Neven Subotic, his congenial partner, looked much better than in prior games, even though his one mistake late in the game would have been costly under normal circumstances. More to that later. A similar comment applies to Marcel Schmelzer, who had a lot of (minor and major) injuries in 2014 and benefited a lot from playing besides Hummels. The back four was completed by Lukasz Piszczek as right back, and with Sebastian Kehl, Sven Bender and Ilkay Gündogan in midfield, the defense looked very much like 2011 or so.
A minor surprise was to see Mitch Langerak starting, but since Roman Weidenfeller was responsible for a number of conceded goals in the last months, some people had expected the Australian international to start. In the end, it did not matter much, as Hoffenheim only had a few opportunities, and none of them had to be saved by Mitch. Apart from one free kick at the start of the second half, when Mats Hummels proved his superb defensive ability and ran back from the defensive wall to clear with a header. No doubt that neither Mitch nor Roman could have saved that one.
In offense, both Aubameyang and Mkhitaryan, who started on the outer sides in midfield, looked strong. Mkhitaryan still seems to be unhappy with the way he plays, but objectively he's doing quite well, actually. In defense, his season was not so bad, but he is surely missing some goals or even assists. Aubameyang, on the other hand, is much more successful in that respect, and apart from his assist to the only score in the game, he had two goals from offside positions and one shot at the right post, all in the second half. And, well, he was not offside when he scored for the first time, by about a meter or so. I have no idea, how a linesman comes to a wrong conclusion in such an obvious situation, but it fits into this unlucky campaign.
And, well, here's the final play of the game. With four minutes to play, it was one of the rare occasions when one of the Hoffenheim players entered the box. After Hummels' only mistake on that day, it was Elyounoussi with the ball and Subotic's leg. And to me, just as to most people in the crowd, it was an obvious penalty. Not to referee Zwayer, though. Hopefully it's going to be an unlucky, lucky campaign in the end. Just as it was on Friday.
Borussia Dortmund: Langerak - Schmelzer, Hummels, Subotic, Piszczek - Kehl - Mkhitaryan, Gündogan (90.+1 Ginter), Bender, Aubameyang (90.+3 Immobile) - Ramos (83. Großkreutz)
TSG Hoffenheim: Baumann - Kim, Bicakcic, Süle, Beck - Rudy (78. Elyounoussi), Polanski, Schwegler (78. Salihovic), Volland - Firmino, Schipplock (46. Modeste)
Goal: 1:0 Gündogan (17.)
Referee: Felix Zwayer
Attendance: 80.000 (sold out)
Yellow Cards: Kehl, Ramos - Süle, Schwegler, Salihovic, Polanski