Borussia Dortmund’s under-19 team won the Bundesliga championship on Sunday, beating 1899 Hoffenheim 5-3 away from home. More than 14.700 spectators saw Dortmund dominate the game from start to finish, as the Black and Yellows thoroughly deserved their victory.
For a lot of players and head coach Hannes Wolf, it’s the third straight youth championship, having already won the under-17 title in the last two years.
With Christian Pulisic on international duty with the USMNT at the Copa America Centenario, Wolf had to make do without his best player. Jonas Arweiler replaced the 17-year-old American, but in a slightly different role. He played up top, with Janni Serra, regularly the lone striker in a 4-2-3-1, playing as more of a secondary striker, with his height and physicality an important factor in aerial duels in midfield.
Wolf opted for three defenders at the back, with Jacob Bruun Larsen and Dario Scuderi as right- and left-wing-backs, respectively. Felix Passlack wore the captain’s armband on his 18th birthday.
The Black and Yellow Babies started with a bang, scoring the opener after only four minutes. Passlack made a irresistable run on the ball and broke through on the right side of the penalty box, from where he played an accurate ball across the face of goal, beyond the outstretched arms of Hoffenheim goalkeeper Gregor Kobel. Arweiler was left with but a tap in and gave Dortmund a dream start.
Hoffenheim didn’t react well to going behind, often losing the ball somewhat carelessly in possession. Whenever they won the ball, Dortmund played direct and on the front foot. They had numerous chances from counter-attacks, but Arweiler, Passlack and Serra failed to put one away to double the lead.
Apart from a free-kick that landed on top of the crossbar, Hoffenheim created next to nothing. It’s not a stretch to say that the Black and Yellows could’ve put the game away for good. The equaliser came out of the blue, with Dortmund unorganised following a throw-in and Dennis Geiger pouncing in the 33rd minute.
Scuderi then saw an impressive effort from far out expertly saved by Kobel, before Hoffenheim twice had luck when a corner went through the box without a final touch from either side.
It took Dortmund all of two minutes to retake the lead in the second half. Hoffenheim were fast asleep when Arweiler, Serra and Passlack broke free in the opposing half. Serra almost lost the ball but showed great determination in winning it back before Kobel could scoop it up and knocking it towards Arweiler, who found Passlack by himself in the box. The captain didn’t let this opportunity go by and scored.
Dortmund didn’t stop there, rather adding a third goal in quick succession. Larsen was through on the right flank and played a perfect cross towards Arweiler at the first post.
In a crazy turn of events, Hoffenheim got back into the game almost immediately, with Adrian Beck heading the ball in off a mishit cross from striker David Otto.
The Black and Yellows re-established their two-goal lead through Serra after 66 minutes, with the forward reacting quickly to a ball across the face of goal from Lars Dietz after a set piece and narrowly getting it in before a defender blocked the ball.
After the fourth goal, Hoffenheim played increasingly risky, which Serra punished eight minutes from time, Passlack dishing out another assist. The tall striker kept his cool and slotted home without any difficulties, putting the final nail in the hosts coffin.
Furkan Cevik’s goal in the 89th minute was little consolation for the hosts.
Man of the Match
Though Arweiler and Serra scored twice each, it’s impossible to look past Passlack. The diminutive winger was absolute dynamite, leading his team with impressive determination and athleticism. The birthday boy was simply unstoppable, assisting three goals and scoring one himself.