In a derby of two halves, one dull and one crazy, Dortmund and Schalke drew 2-2.
Thomas Tuchel already hinted before the game that he would field a rotated side in the derby against Schalke to get some fresh legs on the pitch. But nobody quite expected this level of rotation.
Mixed zone – find the post match quotes here
The 17-year-old Christian Pulisic starting his second ever Bundesliga game in the away derby at Schalke was arguably the biggest surprise, but also Roman Bürki, Sokratis Papastathopoulos, Matthias Ginter, Nuri Sahin, Moritz Leitner, Adrian Ramos and Shinji Kagawa rotated into the team compared to the game against Liverpool.
Borussia’s bench was probably the best in the history of the club, consisting of Roman Weidenfeller, Ilkay Gündogan, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Marco Reus, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Lukas Piszczek and Gonzalo Castro. A lot of firepower to bring on if needed.
Dortmund lined up in what looked like a 3-4-3 formation. With Sokratis as the central man of a back three, Hummels to his left and Bender to his right. Durm played as left wingback, while Ginter acted as counterpart on the right side. Sahin and Leitner played in a double pivot behind Kagawa, Pulisic and Ramos upfront.
The game started relatively slow. Besides a Pulisic header (yes, really), where the American showed an impressive vertical, and a harmless free-kick from Geis not much happened the first twenty minutes.
The first good chance came in the 23rd minute and by who else than teenager Pulisic? The so far most dangerous offensive player used his quickness to break through on the left but had his shot just turned around the post by Schalke’s goalkeeper Fährmann.
Schalke countered in the 33rd minute with a youngster of their own, but luckily for Dortmund the post denied a long range effort from Sané.
The next chance in the 40th minute was another one for Schalke, as Caicara found himself on the end of through ball, beat Durm in a sprint duel, but failed to find either Huntelaar in the middle or the goal in the end.
Then another highlight of the first half: the referee blows his whistle and it’s finally half time. Dortmund were in control for the large part of the first 45 minutes but failed to create many chances while Schalke were only dangerous on the counter.
At the half Tuchel brought on Mkhitaryan for Hummels, who just recovered from a cold. Ginter now moved back to a the right centre-back spot, with Bender moving to the left centre and Mkhitaryan played as right wingback.
Then the game suddenly gained a whole lot of tempo and craziness.
It came the 49th minute and with it a stroke of genius by Shinji Kagawa. The derby-expert scored a lovely chip from the edge of the box after a lay-off by Leitner. One of the most beautiful derby goals you’ll ever see.
Shortly afterwards Schalke came back through a goal by Sané. Some chaotic defending from Dortmund resulted in having almost every player in their own box and as the ball pinballed to Sané he had no trouble finding the net.
Then, in the 56th minute, Dortmund regained their lead through an even weirder goal. A deflected free-kick found Ginter’s head in the box, who almost accidentally scored the 2-1 lead.
But Schalke came back again, Sokratis brought down Huntelaar in the box and the latter had no problem to convert the ensuing penalty in the 66th minute.
The game finally felt like a real derby now and in the 72nd minute Kagawa should’ve added another chapter. After a nice cut-back from Pulisic, the Japanese international found himself very close to the goal but shot directly at Fährmann. The ball bounced back to Mkhitaryan but his shot was also blocked.
Tuchel then used some more of his luxuries bench and brought on Aubameyang and Gündogan for Pulisic and Leitner.
The rapid Gabonese striker quickly showed of his speed as he managed to sprint his way onto the end of a long punt by Bürki, but his shot was saved.
The last chance of the game had Meyer, but his volley shot sailed over the net.
Dortmund’s lineup suggested that they had put the focus on the match against Liverpool rather than this derby, but they still were the better team and were a bit unlucky not to walk away with the double derby win this season.
Any chances of Dortmund winning the Bundesliga title should now be of the past. Tuchel and his men can now concentrate on the cup and the Europa League.