One last step
Borussia Dortmund had still one Champions League match to play this year with RSC Anderlecht visiting Westfalenstadion. With at least a draw BVB should finish the group on the top spot. That could be important regarding the first knock-out stage, where the black-yellows would avoid most of the big guns.
Despite Borussia‘s 1-0 win against TSG Hoffenheim last Friday the situation around Westfalenstadion is still stressed. Being on the 14th spot is a little bit better than last week but still catastrophic. The club that started with high hopes into the league suffered 8 losses already, that wrecked havoc around Strobelallee.
But let‘s talk Champions League. Jürgen Klopp‘s boys showed a good record so far. Having started with 4 wins in a row the supporters saw the opposite of Bundesliga matches. Though the 0-2 loss last match day at Arsenal FC was a horrible performance, Borussia Dortmund is still in a comfortable position. With a win they top the group. Even a draw should be enough as Arsenal would need a win at Galatasaray with a difference of at least 6 goals.
Jürgen Klopp made 6 (!) changes. But he didn‘t make a change on the most discussed position. Against Hoffenheim he surprised everyone, when he left world cup winner Roman Weidenfeller on the bench and lined up Australian boy Mitch Langerak, who today stayed in goal. Durm took Piszczek‘s position as right back. Ginter replaced Mats Hummels in central defence, as the tall defender suffered from back pain. Recovered Sahin replaced Kehl, who suffered some minor injuries, in holding midfield. Ilkay Gündogan was drawn back to holding midfield. Großkreutz, Kagawa and Mkhitaryan started behind sole striker Ciro Immobile. Another point to mention is that Jakub Blaszczykowski returned from long-time injuries and took place on the bench for the first time since 45 (!) weeks!
Anderlecht‘s ambitions are not driven by the fight for a certain place in the table. They have no chance to promote to the knock out stage of the Champions League and can‘t drop down to the 4th place. So it is all about showing a good performance and earning some UEFA bonus money for a draw or a win. Manager Besnik also saw a chance to make up for a 4-2 loss against Mouscron in the league.
The match started in front of a capacity crowd of 65.851. Already in the first minute Großkreutz got the ball on the right side of the box. His pass to Kagawa who was waiting in the box was cleared. Only 120 seconds later Mkhitaryan stole the ball in midfield. His pass to Kagawa was transmitted to Immobile but goalie Proto was able to clear. Anderlecht in return had their first approach in minute 11. And it was a big one! Mitrovic was up and away and it took Langerak everthing to win this 1-on-1 duel. But that was it for the first 20 minutes as the game was calming down. In minute 22 Gündogan played a nice chip to the left side where Schmelzer was unmarked. Unfortunately the left-back was offside. In minute 29 Immobile tried another shot, this time from narrow left angle. But Proto cleared with a fine reflex. Dortmund‘s defence was able to clear a Anderlecht corner and Gündogan initiated a nearly perfect counter-attack with a long ball down the left side which found Mkhitaryan. His shot from narrow angle was again saved. But Anderlecht was still there and showed a lifelight in minute 34. Kagawa lost the ball in midfield so that Conte was able to storm down the right wing. Fortunately his cut-in was not very precise so that Langerak was able to clear. And an even greater chance for Anderlecht occured 2 minutes from halftime. Central striker Mitrovic was able to lay up the ball by head so that Kljestan had the opportunity to shot from about 12 meters distance, but his shot was wide. And so the first half ended goalless.
Neither Klopp nor Anderlecht manager Hasi made any change. And Borussia Dortmund acted more eagerly now. In minute 54 Kagawa played a pass from the left side that found Mkhitaryan. The Armenian national player fired a low shot but was denied by Proto. Sahin and Immobile finally took care. Nuri Sahin, just returned from long-time injury, took the ball in central position and found Immobile in the box. The Italian national striker made no doubt and fired the ball into the net - 1-0 BVB! Some minutes later Kagawa tried to double the lead but his shot was wide. Jürgen Klopp reacted and replaced Gündogan by Oliver Kirch. Ciro Immobile with another approach in minute 70. His lost ball found Mkhitaryan, but again a shot from narrow angle was cleared. The following corner kick form the left side dropped to Immobile, who was waiting on the edge of the box. His powerful shot needed a fine save by Proto. Aubameyang was now put on the pitch as Marcel Schmelzer had to leave. This implicated some tactical changes. Aubameyang took the right wing, Großkreutz moved back to the right-back position and Durm changed sides and took over as left-back. In the final 10 minutes Mkhitaryan wasted another two good chances. And as everyone knows wasting several chances could come back to you. So in minute 84 a high cut-in from the right side by Vanden Borre found Mitrovic‘s head, who was not disturbed by Kevin Großkreutz. Langerak had no chance to save this one and so it was 1-1! Jürgen Klopp made a last change and so Jakub Blaszczykowski entered the pitch for the first time since 45 weeks. But there weren‘t any more chances so the match ended in a 1-1 draw.
Borussia Dortmund finished the group on the top spot, in the end that is what will be remembered of this evening. It wasn‘t a good match at all and especially in the second half Borussia wasted some chance. Mkhitaryan and Immobile alone had half a dozen opportunities to score. So Anderlecht used a lucky punch to draw. Nonetheless in four days time Borussia is on duty in Berlin.
Jürgen Klopp: „Most of the time it was a good match. With recovered players like Sahin, Kirch and Blaszczykowski we did well. In the end it was a superb group phase which saw us promoting to the knock out stage on the top spot.“
Borussia Dortmund: Langerak (2) - Durm (3), Subotic (3), Ginter (3), Schmelzer (4) (75. Aubameyang) - Gündogan (2) (66. Kirch), Sahin (2) - Großkreutz (4), Mkhitaryan (3), Kagawa (4) (84. Blaszczykowski) - Immobile (2)
Manager: Jürgen Klopp
RSC Anderlecht: Proto - Vanden Borre, Mbemba, Deschacht, N‘Sakala - Dendoncker, Kljestan (69. Tielemans) - Conte (79. Cyriac), Praet, Acheampong - Mitrovic (89. Heylen)
Manager: Besnik Hasi
Goals: 1-0 Immobile (58., right-footed, assist Sahin), 1-1 Mitrovic (84., header, Assist Vanden Borre)
Yellow cards: - / -
Referee: Alberto Undiano Mallenco (Spain)
Stadium: Westfalenstadion (65.851, sold out)