The worst thing about Matchday 33 is that FC Schalke won. By an Uwe Hünemeier own goal in the 88th minute, the blues lucked themselves to another three points. It’s painful for Dortmund fans, because they can no longer overtake Schalke in the league. A draw in Gelsenkirchen would have kept that possibility open (so would have done a Dortmund win in Wolfsburg, but shush you, this is about the great injustice in football), but now BVB can only hope for a cup win to sooth their pain of finishing behind this atrociously bad Schalke side.
Second of all, the result might gloss over the fact that Schalke were shockingly poor against SC Paderborn, who controlled the entire match and only failed to put the ball into the back of Fährmann’s net. Such a pity, really. For a Dortmund supporter it’s simply sad to see Schalke’s kind of football being rewarded with points, although they hardly deserved them.
I’ll just wear my bitterness on my sleeve after this season (although it’s technically not over yet), as not even the usual Schadenfreude over Schalke’s mishaps isn’t granted this season. It’s all trampled down by a Dortmund team, that picked up their 14th loss of the season. FOURTEEN. Dortmund’s loss record is in the middle of puberty, but still they are in good place to reach the Europa League. Possibly even finish on 6th place, if Dortmund win against Bremen next Saturday and FC Augsburg lose in Mönchengladbach, which doesn’t sound too unrealistic.
Now, to the match. It’s hard to say what was worse. Gündogan’s completely obvious pass to Erik Durm, which was easily intercepted by Daniel Caligiuri or the fact that he didn’t track back afterwards. Either way, BVB shouldn’t have conceded a goal like that in any minute of the game, but especially not in the first minute. That’s just careless.
Of course, Kevin De Bruyne’s run was great. It pulled both Subotic and Sokratis completely out of position and opened up the space for Caligiuri. It was truly a cold start for Subotic, who wasn’t even supposed to play. Sadly, Mats Hummels got a knock on his foot during the final training before the game and couldn’t start. Subotic and Sokratis clearly weren’t in sync when De Bruyne made his diagonal run – but if no defensive midfielder is tracking the run of an offensive midfielder, it’s always hard for the back line to multitask.
What came next was fun to watch. It was a lively match and Dortmund wasn’t inferior, which is good news for the DFB Pokal Finale. Everybody can look forward to it, if both teams go at each other in similar style. Though it might be a tick more defensive – nonetheless it shall be exciting. In a way, conceding early helped Dortmund, because Wolfsburg got a little passive and left Dortmund too much space in midfield. Dieter Hecking confirmed that at the press conference after the match and his order to close down Gündogan and Kehl in the second half, meant that the second half wasn’t as much fun for Dortmund supporters anymore, but more on that later.
The first half was pacy, it took Dortmund eleven minutes to equalize after a beautiful combination. In a way it was sad, that Kevin Kampl couldn’t score his first goal, but got fouled instead. A yellow card for Benaglio was the right decision, it would have been better if Kampl had been fouled by Timm Klose instead, who would have been the last man. Yet, Dortmund could have also won against eleven Wolves.
After Aubameyang converted the penalty, Henrikh Mkhitaryan really got to life. The Armenian is getting better and better, he had a few shots on target and popped up everywhere to press Wolfsburg off the ball. That’s something Dortmund really did well in the first half. The Gegenpressing was splendid, sadly Klopp’s men don’t really find ways to convert their turnovers into goals this season, otherwise Dortmund would be much higher up the table.
Three minutes before half time Timm Klose ran Mkhitaryan over in the box. Penalty? In the replay Klose made contact without a chance of the ball. It was soft contact, but it was at speed and it was a foul, so it should have been another penalty for Dortmund.
Sadly, the referee got another call wrong just after halftime. Dortmund made a meal out of Wolfburg’s corner. It’s ironic how Jürgen Klopp changed the set-piece defending from man marking to zonal marking after Naldo’s goal in the reverse fixture, only for the same guy to score anyway in the next match. Of course, it was more of a coincidence that the ball landed on Naldo’s foot to begin with. The ball pinged between Dortmund players like a ball in a pinball machine. The unlucky deflections were crowned by two Wolfsburg players who were in an offside position. Timm Klose obviously blocked Langerak’s view. He even had to raise a foot for the ball to go past him. Klose had a really lucky match in that regard.
The goal stood and thus Wolfsburg’s central defender now scored seven goals. As die Süddeutsche wrote, that’s more than Shinji Kagawa, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Kevin Kampl, Jakub Blaszczykowski and Kevin Großkreutz managed to get on the score sheet combined. A very sad truth.
As one wonders who the match would have fared, if Dortmund hadn’t conceded in the first minute, on can apply the same hypothesis after the irregular second goal, two minutes into the second half. Kevin Kampl said “that goal took the wind out of our sails.” after the game. Maybe we’ll get an answer in two weeks, if the match goes more in Dortmund’s favor. One can hope, but in all honesty, VfL Wolfsburg were the better side and will enter the Cup final as favorites.
For Dortmund there lies an emotional rest of the season ahead. Borussia Dortmund will have to say farewell to Jürgen Klopp and Sebastian Kehl and go through the joy of winning a cup or the sadness of losing a cup final. Either way, it’ll be moving, so buckle up!