NFC Bayern and Borussia Dortmund have not yet met head-to-head, but this first matchday gave the Bundesliga audience a good impression of the means by which the two most ambitious German clubs will face off in the title race in the new year. FC Bayern dismantled Eintracht Frankfurt on Friday with individual brilliance and tactical coaching.
Borussia Dortmund, on the other hand, beat Bayer Leverkusen 1-0 the day after with great dedication, willpower and the energy of the stadium, and both teams believe they are on the right track. “I think we made a big step forward, the team fought and scratched,” said Dortmund’s sporting director Sebastian Kehl after the exciting game against the Rhinelanders. “If we hadn’t fought back with this intensity, we wouldn’t have won.”
The goal of the day came early and Leverkusen gave a friendly helping hand. Jonathan Tah frittered the ball away in the center in front of his own penalty area, and when shortly afterwards a shot by Karim Adeyemi was actually cleared on the line, Marco Reus appeared and scored to make it 1-0 (10th minute). The Dortmund captain later spoke of a “work victory”, his team had “everything arrived”. However, he also admitted that BVB “had a hard time with their own possession of the ball”.
Most of the newcomers are missing
The enthusiasm that swept through the stadium after the final whistle could only be indulged in briefly while dancing in front of the south stand. Some weaknesses had been too obvious. Youssoufa Moukoko initiated the goal of the day with a strong move, but was otherwise hardly able to assert himself.
And Karim Adeyemi had to be substituted after 20 minutes with a foot injury. After just a few minutes of play in the Bundesliga, Nico Schlotterbeck was only one of the five new signings still operational. In addition to Ademeyi, Sebastién Haller (tumor disease), Niklas Süle (muscular problems) and Salih Özcan (bruised foot) were also absent.
So it was the much-criticized players of the previous season, reinforced by Schlotterbeck, who had to hold out against Leverkusen, who had won 5-2 in Dortmund in the previous season due to significant deficits in speed. On this evening, however, BVB played with a different energy than in many phases of the previous year. The duels were intense, the willingness to work defensively was high.
“The most important thing is that you defend your own goal with everything you have,” said the new Dortmund coach Edin Terzic. “Today we showed that we can do it.” And Schlotterbeck, who introduced himself to the Dortmund audience as a fascinating and at the same time combative footballer, also contributed to this.
The national player was present, played boldly and heated up the crowd. In addition to strong game openings and won duels, he also made dangerous ball losses in his debut home game at BVB, which Leverkusen could have used to score at least one goal. “It was relatively even in terms of chances, if we didn’t even have a few more top-class players,” Tah said. In fact, Dortmund needed a good portion of luck to keep their own goal clean.
Two goals from Leverkusen were not recognized due to narrow offside positions (53rd and 80th). “We are disappointed, we made one or two too many mistakes, especially in the first half,” said Bayer coach Gerardo Seoane, but praised his team for “a significant improvement in performance” compared to the defeat in Elversberg in the DFB Cup. It was annoying that goalkeeper Lukas Hradecky saw the red card in the 90th minute after catching a ball just outside the edge of the penalty area. During added time, defender Edmond Tapsoba was in the Leverkusen goal.
Overall, Leverkusen’s start to the season was pretty disappointing, and Dortmund still have a lot of work to do. Apart from a dangerous long-range shot by substitute Marius Wolf, they didn’t have a chance of their own after 50 minutes. It became clear once again how urgently they need a striker who creates danger in the penalty area.
In the coming week they want to sign this representative for the sick Sebastién Haller. “Of course, we worked on a lot of ideas and created opportunities,” Kehl said after the game, the club was “on the right track when it came to the striker question, what we’re doing will work.”