Borussia Dortmund beat Mainz 05 2-1 on Matchday 1 of the 2016/17 Bundesliga season. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored a brace before Yoshinori Muto got one back for the visitors in injury time.
Unsurprisingly, head coach Thomas Tuchel opted for an unchanged starting XI from the DFB-Pokal first-round match against Regionalliga side Eintracht Trier on Monday, meaning that 10 of the 11 starters have now featured from kick-off in all three competitive matches of the season, with Andre Schurrle being the only exception.
Felix Passlack deservedly kept his spot at right-back in the starting XI after strong showings in pre-season, the DFL-Supercup against Bayern Munich and the cup tie.
The Black and Yellows started strongly and could’ve won a penalty after just nine minutes. New signing Marc Bartra found himself in the opposing penalty box after a set piece and went for a header, when centre-back Stefan Bell seemed to hit him with a high boot. Referee Robert Hartmann waved play on, presumably because he didn’t see the (admittedly light) contact.
Especially through Ousmane Dembele on the right wing, the Ruhr side created havoc time and time again. The 19-year-old Frenchman ran rings around makeshift left-back Daniel Brosinski and often played dangerous balls into the area.
One such cross was layed off nicely from Schurrle with Aubameyang forcing a good save out of Jonas Lössl. Immediately after that scoring chance, Dortmund went in front. Schürrle played a brilliant driving ball toward the Gabon international, who cleverly ran behind Karim Onisiwo’s back and found himself left with little more than a tap-in header.
Mainz’s reaction was quite positive, with Roman Bürki keeping Dortmund’s lead intact with good saves against Fabian Frei and Christoph Clemens around the 30-minute mark.
Both teams came out of the half without changes, and the game went on in the same way, too. Dortmund had the vast majority of possession but struggled to turn that dominance into too many scoring opportunities, while Mainz remained dangerous when they ventured forward.
Clemens had the first good attempt of the second period, when Burki didn’t rush out of his goal after his back line was caught out high up the field.
Tuchel’s side had arguably their best spell of the game around the hour mark, with Schürrle, Bartra, Rode and Dembele failing to double the lead. Mainz were constricted to their own defensive third throughout that spell and didn’t manage to get the ball forward.
Dortmund then brought on Julian Weigl for the somewhat underwhelming Gonzalo Castro and immediately looked more comfortable in the build-up phase, despite the 20-year-old’s misplacing more passes than usual.
Without the second goal, however, the match remained open and Mainz, even without creating any chances for large spells of the second period, looked dangerous, also thanks to some positive substitutions.
The second goal finally came in the dying moments of regular time, with Onisiwo rather stupidly tugging Schürrle just inside of the penalty area. Aubameyang stepped up and doubled the lead, as well as his own account for the season.
That should’ve been it, but Mainz threw everything forward and got one back through substitute striker Muto. Dortmund’s back line didn’t cover itself in glory, with right-back Giulio Donati running through the defensive third without much of a challenge.
It proved to be too little, too late, however, with the Black and Yellows seeing out the final two minutes of injury time.
Yellow Wall Game Ball
The two best players on the pitch were both made their Bundesliga debuts for Dortmund: Bartra and Schurrle.
The nod has to go to Schurrle, though, who assisted both goals and showed an impressive level of understanding with his team-mates, especially when one takes into account that he only joined them at the start of August.
Bartra defended superbly and quenched fires time and time again, but his build-up play was not up the lofty standards the Catalan set in the two previous competitive matches of the campaign.