A goalless draw punctuated by half-chances and counter-attacks saw Thomas Tuchel’s side maintain their 10-point advantage over Hertha Berlin in the capital on Saturday afternoon.
Leaving Shinji Kagawa at home, Dortmund lined up in a familiar shape but made slight alterations throughout the match as they found themselves stifled and frustrated by the hosts.
An organised midfield saw Pál Dárdai’s side force BVB to play from Sokratis in the opening stages, which were dominated by Hertha. Forcing Dortmund to build up and play down the right-hand side, they managed to keep ‘die Schwarz-Gelben’ quiet for the majority of the first half. Salomon Kalou was dangerous breaking forward from a wide role. He, Vladimir Darida and John Brooks shared Hertha’s best chances in the first half but caused Roman Bürki no problems.
Mixed zone – find the post match quotes here
At the other end, a lethargic BVB couldn’t move the ball through the lines. When the ball did advance down the right wing, Marco Reus couldn’t find anyone with his various attempted cutbacks. The only chance of the half came with a Mats Hummels header, which forced Rune Jarstein into action at his near post.
The second half began with Ilkay Gündogan deeper dictating play and Gonzalo Castro in a more advanced role. The switch saw Dortmund take control. A more passive Hertha sat off more and the off ball movement of Castro and Henrikh Mkhitaryan was much improved. It almost paid off instantly, Mkhitaryan shot just wide and Marco Reus nearly found Gonzalo Castro at the far post.
Mkhitaryan in particular came to life after the break, probing constantly for an opening. He dribbled through the Hertha midfield wonderfully only to overhit a tough through ball, he also had a clear half chance (possibly Dortmund’s clearest) after a nice ball in from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, but the Armenian pulled his shot wide as he hit it first time. It was Aubameyang’s chief involvement on a very quiet afternoon, and he was hooked for Adrian Ramos with 20 minutes to go. Gonzalo Castro made way for Christian Pulisic but, despite some nice movement, the 17-year-old couldn’t repeat the impact he had on his Bundesliga début against Ingolstadt a week ago.
Deeper at the back and inviting Dortmund on, Hertha looked dangerous when they streaked forward in the closing stages. A soft penalty appeal was waved away before slightly heavy touches from Gündogan and Pulisic left Dortmund exposed on the break. Thankfully Marcel Schmelzer held up a three v one situation, forcing Salomon Kalou to strike wide. Ending with Matthias Ginter on for Marco Reus, BVB looked a little out of ideas. Ramos and Pulisic swapped roles, Mats Hummels even ventured forward but couldn’t pick out a black and yellow shirt after a nice dribble down the left.
Time was left for one last Hertha counter, but Sokratis recovered the situation after Alexander Baumjohann seemed caught in two minds.
A game seemingly destined to end 0-0 did just that. On the face of it a disappointing performance, but it’s not at all a bad result for Thomas Tuchel’s men. A draw away from home against the side third in the league can never really be seen as a poor point to take, and in the context of the game it was a good one.
The side’s susceptibility to counter-attacks will still concern Tuchel ahead of the midweek trip to Stuttgart in the cup, but the improvement on the ball after half-time will offer some comfort after a drab opening 45 minutes.