Borussia Dortmund’s under-19 team have reached the final for the Bundesliga Championship and are gunning for a fourth consecutive title for players such as Felix Passlack and Dzenis Burnic. BVB’s U19 beat VfL Wolfsburg 2-1 at home to earn the right to host the final on May 22.
Even without the away-goals rule, Dortmund were in a strong position going into the game after a 3-2 road win in the first leg — Wolfsburg’s first defeat of the entire season after the Wolves had went though the regular season unbeaten in the North/Northeastern Division.
Head coach Benjamin Hoffmann could rely on midfielders Dzenis Burnic, who had scored a brace in the first leg, and Orel Mangala, who were both doubtful with slight injury problems. Felix Passlack once again moved down from the senior team to play at right-back. Alexander Isak, however, is not eligible to play in the championship play-offs, where only those players can feature who played for a club’s youth team before January 1st.
BVB came out of the gates firing, with attacking midfielder David Kopacz going close following a strong counter-attack after just two-and-a-half minutes. The lead didn’t take long, with centre-back Luca Kilian converting a rebound off a Passlack free-kick within six minutes.
Dortmund continued strongly and added a few good scoring chances to score a potentially decisive second goal in the first half, with Burnic and Etienne Amenyido going close with good free-kicks after 13 and 39 minutes respectively. Burnic also curled a shot just wide of the goal in stoppage time.
Wolfsburg had more of the ball in the first half and threatened a few times, even though goalkeeper Eike Bansen only had to make one real save. It was a strong one, however, with Gian-Luca Itter forcing him into a one-handed parry with a volley from a central position.
Dortmund doubled their lead just five minutes into the second period, with winger Hüseyin Bulut reacting to a spilled clearance from goalkeeper Phillip Menzel and scoring into an open net from distance. With Wolfsburg now needing three goals just to force the game into penalties — no extra-time in these play-offs — this should have been the game.
However, Wolfsburg creeped back into the game with a cheap goal six minutes later, with striker David Nieland scoring a relatively free header after a corner.
Dortmund took a few minutes to get back into their shape and process the goal, with Alexander Laukart and Passlack missing good chances to reestablish the two-goal lead in the 65th and 67th minute.
Four minutes later, Mangala saw his second booking of the game. It was a harsh call for the Belgian midfielder, who won the ball and could easily have received a free-kick himself. To make matters worse, Mangala will now miss the final.
Wolfsburg failed to capitalise from their numerical advantage for the most part of the final 20 minutes of the game. Bansen had to stop a decent free-kick after 83 minutes but was hardly tested otherwise. On the contrary, Dortmund remained dangerous on the counter and rode out the rest of the game without much difficulty.
It’s an incredible accomplishment of the team to reach the Championship final, especially with many important players missing large spells of the campaign.
Dortmund were without long-term injured key cogs in Patrick Fritsch and Jacob Bruun Larsen, who led the team with 20 goals and 13 assists in only 17 matches during the regular season, as well as Janni Serra and Dario Scuderi. Passlack also only played sparingly and Christian Pulisic didn’t play for the U19 at all. Not to forget, the team also lost their successful long-term coach Hannes Wolf to VfB Stuttgart in September.
Dortmund will likely face Schalke in a baby Revierderby for the German championship, the neighbors having beaten Bayern Munich in their semi-final first leg 3-1 away from home last week. Dortmund will host Schalke or Bayern in the one-game final on Monday, May 22th, at 7.30 pm CEST at the Westfalenstadion.