Intro: Draw. 1:1. First leg of Europa League quarter final between Borussia Dortmund and FC Liverpool is over. Who needs Champions League when two of the most amazing clubs in this football world – Borussia Dortmund and FC Liverpool – meet in the quarterfinals of the Europa League? It seems, at least it was the impression this week, the Champions League matches of Wolfsburg and Bayern were somehow shrinking towards insignificance, compared to the BvB-LFC matchup. Borussia Dortmund awaited the desired return of legend Jürgen Klopp. It was the will of all football gods that the German coach returned “home” with his new club Liverpool. Everyone in Signal Iduna Park was witness to a unique event before the match, when an entire stadium sang “You Never Walk Alone”. Jürgen Klopp had to shake many hands, had to say many “Hello’s” and nearly seemed annoyed that the main focus of press and TV was his return and not the sport highlights.
Liverpool FC, everyone was sure about this before the match, had (and still has) the role of the underdog. Borussia Dortmund currently belongs to the Top-Ten-Clubs of Europe. But Jürgen Klopp’s LFC knew how to hurt Borussia Dortmund. While Origi (36th) scored the 0:1 for Liverpool, it was Hummels who headed the 1:1 draw (48th).
Augenblick: Mats Hummels’ interviews are always interesting to listen to. He is an honest guy and seems to avoid the typical, clichéd phrases often used by football players. He gave in that maybe the action before the lead of Liverpool was his fault. “I don’t know. I could have stayed on my position but in this moment I thought it was better to approach Milner (who gave the assist). It was Bender’s position though. But I hardly had time to think”, he said after the match. It was a tricky situation. The Belgian striker had to face Bender, Hummels and Piszceck and was able to score the first goal. Hummels could have stayed on his position but he decided to attack Milner, who passed per header to Origi.
After that situation the young LFC player was able to score against Weidenfeller. In Germany you simply say: “The defense slept!” Liverpool was harmless before that situation, but had several good attempts on goal at the beginning of the second half. After the Mats Hummels equalizer, the “Reds” were unable to strike again.
Man of the Match: In a way it is Hummels. He was the key-player of the whole match. In the first half he initiated the 0:1 for FC Liverpool scored by Origi. It was not entirely his fault. The three defensive-players — Hummels, Bender and Piszcek –acted as one. Hummels, before and after the Liverpool lead was established, was the one who also acted as first player of Borussia Dortmund’s offensive actions. Mkhitaryan’s cross in minute 48 found Hummels and he headed the ball into Mignolet’s goal. It was a good match for the German defender and he underlined that he is one of most important players for Dortmund and “Die Mannschaft”. It should also be mentioned that Mamadou Sakho could have been Man of the Match, too. The French defender seemed to be like a wall keeping BVB strikers from scoring and earned a justified applause. He was the key to LFC gaining a result away ahead of the return leg at Anfield.
Key stat(s): The draw is justified. Borussia Dortmund had seven attempts on goal while Liverpool both had six attempts. Weidenfeller has five saves, Mignolet six. While Borussia Dortmund had five corners, Liverpool just had one. Tuchel’s side had the edge in possession, 64%, but otherwise the two clubs were evenly matched statistically.
Talking points: The “Schwarzgelben” dominated the pitch, but the Reds always seemed to do their possible to be a danger for BVB keeper Weidenfeller. BVB was better in first half and had some good attempts on the LFC goal. But it was the 20-year-old Belgian striker Origi who scored the lead for Liverpool (36th), somewhat of a surprise choice in Klopp’s starting XI over the more experienced Daniel Sturridge. Origi’s strike was pretty much against the run of play, as Borussia Dortmund had some promising buildups, but it hat the last pass was missing, off-target, or blocked.
After Hummel’s 48th minute equalizer, many fans had the impression that Borussia would dominate now that the Liverpool dam was breached. But Liverpool’s defensive strategy worked out brilliantly in second half. Dortmund barely had good chances after the break and the 1:1 draw was justified. The problem with Borussia Dortmund was the missing consequence in their actions. And there was always a situation where Reus, Micky, Castro or Aubameyang choose the wrong solution. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was, for the first time in this season, a shadow of better days.
The line-up of Liverpool did their best to be an annoying opponent. Weidenfeller and Mignolet were doing well. After an hour LFC to decide that a 1:1 final would be a good result, and risked little, having home field advantage and an away goal lead for next week. Dortmund by then barely created attempts on goal. The 1:1 is the better result for FC Liverpool and Jürgen Klopp. Borussia Dortmund has to improve next week at Anfield Road. Klopp knew how to hurt his old love and while the result is a success for Liverpool, no one really knew what to make out of it in Dortmund.
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