Borussia Dortmund continue to stumble, failing to win their third match in a row following this month’s international break. Despite Nuri Sahin and Maximilian Philipp giving the Black and Yellows a two-goal lead over hosts Eintracht Frankfurt, Peter Bosz’ team dropped two points in a 2-2 draw.
Lineup: Bürki; Bartra, Weigl, Subotic, Toljan; Sahin, Castro, Götze; Pulisic, Aubameyang, Philipp.
Bosz made five changes, with Ömer Toprak, Marcel Schmelzer and Sokratis unavailable through injury or suspension. Shinji Kagawa and Andrey Yarmolenko also moved to the bench. In their place, Jeremy Toljan, Neven Subotic, Sahin, Gonzalo Castro and Philipp started.
Curiously, Bosz elected to play Weigl and Subotic in what is sure to be the slowest and least physical centre-back partnership in recent memory, with Bartra on the right and Toljan at left-back. Given the fact Dan-Axel Zagadou was on the bench, going with a midfielder and a player who hadn’t started a competitive match in one-and-a-half years was a questionable and ultimately simply bad decision.
The game developed exactly the same way everyone knew it would: Frankfurt were happy for BVB to have the bulk of possession and only on occasion tried aggressively to force them into mistakes in the buildup phase. Dortmund struggled to move the ball about outside of long lumps to the flanks, most often from Subotic.
Frankfurt themselves identified Dortmund’s untested centre-back duo as a clear weakness and sent long ball after long ball down the middle, forcing Weigl and Subotic into sprinting duels they lost with regularity. The Serbian fan favourite did well in winning one-on-ones to repair the damage their subpar positioning had made, but Dortmund were always living on the edge.
The lead through Sahin came out of nowhere, with Bartra running high up the pitch unimpeded and firing off a thoroughly harmless shot that found its way to the Turkey international, who was just about level with the last defender and slotted home in the 19th minute.
Frankfurt had a number of half chances that Roman Bürki, fresh off a contract extension on Friday, thwarted far off his line. His best save came against Marius Wolf in the 31st minute.
Dortmund, on the other hand, failed to create much themselves. Frankfurt marked Sahin at most times, while Castro and Mario Götze were unable to consistently make themselves available for shorter passing moves.
The second period began with a frantic period in which both sides could — and perhaps should — have scored once or twice. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, leading the team with captain’s armband, missed two chances, firing over the bar in the 51st and failing to beat Lukas Hradecky in Frankfurt’s goal in a one-on-one two minutes later.
Philipp doubled his side’s lead with a fine finish after 57 minutes, receiving the ball from Götze and hitting it cleanly with his weaker left foot beyond Hradecky’s outstretched fingertips in the lower right corner.
The game should have been done and dusted but Frankfurt knew Dortmund were good for a few more mistakes defensively. Bosz made two substititions immediately after Philipp’s goal, bringing on Kagawa and Zagadou for Castro and Weigl. In a strange move, this meant Dortmund changed around three quarters of their back line, as Toljan moved to the right, Bartra played next to Subotic inside and Zagadou slotted in at left-back.
This series of moves not unsurprisingly led to some confusion which Frankfurt promptly made the most of, finding Ante Rebic all by himself with a long ball. Bürki came off his line but crashed into the Croat, giving away a penalty that Sebastian Haller dispatched expertly in the 64th minute.
Only four minutes later, Dortmund had fully squandered their lead when Wolf made a darting run into the box, received the ball from Mijat Gacinovic and scored into the bottom left corner. Bürki saved his team from going behind against Gacinovic and, with a spectacular save, Haller.
BVB, who brought on Jadon Sancho for his senior debut late in the game, had one last double chance through the Englishman and Sahin in the final minute of regulation, but Hradecky and Makoto Hasebe with a goal-line clearance won the hosts a thoroughly deserved point.
Dortmund’s deteriorating performances in the Bundesliga are worrisome, even though the lack of personnel especially at the back has to be considered a mitigating factor. However, some of their woes are self-inflicted, as Bosz’ starting XI as well as his substitutions made little sense. If not for Bürki, Dortmund would likely have lost on their fourth straight trip to Frankfurt.