The one and only Borussia
Sometimes the first game of the season can work as an indicator on how the season might proceed and how us fans may get spoilt or have to suffer. Of course not all first games of the season work as a foreboding- after all, after last year’s opening game some of us joked around that we are going to be championship winners again just like 2011 when we had lost our first game of the season against Leverkusen. It came differently and we by the end of May 2015 we were all happy that the season was over and our often scolded hearts received some time to recover. However, April (or September-January) showers bring May flowers and so by the end of May we already knew that some fantastic, emotional and outstanding seven years under Jürgen Klopp had found their ending and our new coach Thomas Tuchel was ready to take over. A short summer break, two Euro League and one Cup game later the Bundesliga finally awaited us a game in shape of the false Borussia from Gladbach.
Gladbach finished last season as the third of the league, directly qualifying for the Champions League. They played a fantastic second half of the season with only 10 goals against them. But during the summer break Gladbach also had to cope with the fact that they had lost Kruse to Wolfsburg and Kramer back to Leverkusen- two of their strongest players of the previously played season. They strengthened themselves with Drmic from Leverkusen and Stindl from Hannover, but the game against us would prove that Gladbach would not stand a chance. Even though the ponies missed out on two of their fullbacks, Dominguez and Stranzl, and also Nordtveit (red card), Hahn (injured) and Hermann (on the bench), Lucien Favre later attested that Dortmund was simply too fast and clearly better.
But what exactly has happened that one of the best teams from last season had gone down in our wonderful Westfalenstadion just like that? Well, the answer is that an eager and enthusiastic Reus, Kagawa, Mkhitaryan and Aubameyang, a brave and calm Weigl, a newly light-footed Gündogan, and a calm, relaxed and focused Piszczek, Sokratis, Hummels, Schmelzer and Bürki have happened. Dortmund played themselves into a frenzy from minute one by pushing forward after capturing the ball, always changing quickly from defense into offense, leaving Gladbach no room or time to handle the situation.
Four fantastically played goals were the result of eleven players who simply enjoyed the game. After Mkhitaryan had already scored a wonderful goal that was falsely claimed to be offside (it wasn’t), Reus had no mercy with Gladbach’s young and unexperienced full backs and hammered the ball into the left side of the goal, after quick passed from Hummels and Kagawa. 1:0. But our players were hungry, they did not take a rest but wanted more. And Gladbach? They just stood and watched. It seemed as if Favre’s players were in an awe and did not know how to withdraw themselves from that stiffness. And so Schmelzer found all the time in the world to play a perfect cross onto Aubameyang, who seemed completely left alone in Gladbach’s penalty area and headed the ball across the goal line- 2:0. On it went- Gündogan played a perfect pass onto Aubameyang who left behind every Gladbach player who tried to follow and selflessly passed to the ball to Mkhitaryan, who did not have to be asked twice- 3:0. By the time the referee asked for a break we were already 3:0 in the lead.
But also after the changeover Gladbach seemed to be in a state of shock. It took us less than five minutes until Reus played a perfect ball into the center of Gladbach’s penalty area where Aubameyang jumped over the ball and Mkhitaryan did what he has been doing so well during the past few weeks: he scored- 4:0. The fact that this goal was apparently offside does not really make a big difference, since the first goal by Mkhitaryan was not and so this decision simply compensated the first non-offside goal. There could have been one more goal, there SHOULD have been one more goal, because this attack simply deserved to be crowned but it was not meant to be: after a beautiful lob from Aubameyang across Gladbach’s defense, where Kagawa had already pulled away from his guards, Kagawa balanced the ball down from the air, finished and only missed the goal by a couple of inches.
And what did Gladbach do? Nothing, there was no rebellion whatsoever, not for a minute, not on this day. Gladbach’s team had no passion, no life, no enthusiasm in them- a start of the season to forget for them. Dortmund was in charge of the game from minute one to minute 90 and did not even slip just once.
It was only the first game of the season in terms of the Bundesliga and we all should know that even though Gladbach was a terribly weak opponent on that day, that there are other teams awaiting us that might give us a hard time just like we did to Gladbach on that Saturday. It is important that Dortmund stays focused, hungry and keeps on working on a stable defense and an enthusiastic offense. If all goes well, we have a few more games beside the Bundesliga this season and all our other players, who were not on the pitch on that day, will be fully needed.
On Thursday an interesting task will await us in Norway- let’s hope that our players will take some of the fun of this game along to Norway and make the best out of that game as well. But for now- it is good to have you back Bundesliga!
BVB: Bürki - Piszczek, Sokratis, Hummels, Schmelzer - Gündogan, Weigl - Reus (78. Kampl), Kagawa (85. Bender), Mkhitaryan - Aubameyang (78. Ramos)
Gladbach: Sommer - Jantschke, Schulz, Christensen, Wendt - Stindl, Xhaka (79. Dahoud) – Traoré (65. Herrmann), Johnson - Raffael – Drmic (66. Hazard)
Goals: 1:0 Reus (15.), 2:0 Aubameyang (21.), 3:0 Mkhitaryan (33.), 4:0 Mkhitaryan (50.)
Westfalenstadion: 81.359 (sold out)