If the table doesn’t lie, as football realists like to quote, then it will gradually become more difficult for Borussia Dortmund to get one of the four Champions League places in the Bundesliga again. In the 2:3 win against RB Leipzig, direct contact with the rivals was lost for the time being. The fact that FC Bayern picked up a package of results with a 1:5 defeat at Eintracht Frankfurt in the afternoon no longer seems to really concern the former championship contenders BVB. Fourth place is now the new first place for Dortmund.
What was even worse for Dortmund among the 81,365 spectators in the stadium was that their own team seemed to be playing better when they found themselves outnumbered after 15 minutes. Mats Hummels was only able to stop Xavi Simons, who was sprinting away after a hair-raising loss of the ball by Thomas Meunier, with an emergency brake. Referee Sven Jablonski initially awarded a penalty for Leipzig and punished Hummels with a yellow card. However, after an almost endless wait, the video assistant taught him otherwise. Jablonski revised his decision; according to VAR, the foul should have been just outside the penalty area. So Jablonski changed his sentence. There was a penalty instead of a free kick, and the color of Hummels’ card changed from yellow to red.
Whether the decision was correct remained controversial. Hummels apologized on his social media channels at the end of the game: “This defeat is on me. I can never leave the boys alone for eighty minutes.” Hummels could have decided against a risky tackle and let Xavi run towards goalkeeper Gregor Kobel alone. Even if that might have resulted in the opening goal for Leipzig.
BVB team colleague Julian Brandt didn’t want to criticize Hummels, on the contrary: “Defenders have this ambition to clear up a situation like that. Often it works. Then we benefit from it. Not here.” The international player’s dismissal changed the game, in which Dortmund had appeared slightly superior until then.
Leipzig couldn’t do much with the eleven-on-ten superiority for a while. But finally Ramy Bensebaini headed a cross from David Raum into his own goal to make it 0-1. After that, however, BVB seemed to pick themselves up. Dortmund coach Edin Terzic brought Niklas Süle into the game in place of Hummels, who was sent off, and the central defender, of all people, managed to equalize seconds before the end of the first half.
Dortmund takes command when they are outnumbered
After the substitution, Christian Baumgartner seemed to turn things around in the expected direction with another goal to make it 2-1. But from this point onwards, Borussia actually became stronger. The outnumbered number and the deficit caused tactical considerations to melt away. Leipzig had little idea what to do with Dortmund’s style of play, which was now more active, more aggressive and more focused on their own attack. Terzic had now switched offensively. With Karim Adeyemi, Donyell Malen and Giovanni Reyna, without nominal full-backs and with an advancing midfield, Dortmund suddenly took command, even when they were outnumbered.
However, Yussuf Poulsen scored Leipzig’s third goal in stoppage time. Niclas Füllkrug immediately headed the score to 2:3 for Dortmund. And for the rest of the injury time, BVB and their loud supporters sensed another chance to equalize. But this late wish no longer came true.
Edin Terzic later considered his team to be the better team for long stretches. Until the sending off, and then also in the second half. In the last week, after the 1-1 draw in Leverkusen and after the catastrophic 2-0 loss in the elimination from the DFB Cup in Stuttgart, he had to listen to many accusations about his supposedly overly defensive, fearful demeanor and attitude. The game was unable to dispel these allegations. Only without serious tactical guidelines, with everything or nothing in the last 15 minutes, was his team able to please with what the BVB squad had to offer. So f unconditional attacking football, if necessary without taking losses into account. BVB was able to show a hint of this recently. Julian Brandt, when asked about the tactical background, just wanted to say with a smile: “Personally, I always prefer to be active than passive.” Easily said for a playmaker responsible for the offense.
Dortmund now has to prepare for the next tricky game. The final Champions League group game is against Paris Saint-Germain for group victory. More offensive or wait and see again? You can never predict it with the Dortmund surprise bag.