Second-place Borussia Dortmund were up against TSG Hoffenheim Sunday evening at Signal Iduna Park, with both sides having totally different objectives. Thomas Tuchel’s men were still in the title race but trailing Bayern by eleven points, while TSG Hoffenheim, led by 28-year-old coach Julian Nagelsmann, won for only the third time this season when they beat FSV Mainz 3:2 last week to move within two points of the relegation-playoff spot.
The match began with Hoffenheim intensily pressing the midfielders to prevent Dortmund playing out from the back. Nagelsmann used a 3-5-2 pendulating defensive formation with wingbacks Jeremy Toljan and Pavel Kadeřábek helping the defense when Dortmund roamed in the opposition half, thus creating a five-man defensive chain. Dortmund were often forced to play from the wings rather than to attack through the middle.
The effect showed with Dortmund midfielders and attackers getting no time on the ball due to the intense pressing and compactness from Hoffenheim. In fact, for the first 20 minutes, Hoffenheim were looking more dangerous and in the 25th minute, die Kraichgauer astonishingly took the lead through Sebastian Rudy. After initially picking out Kevin Volland, whose furious drive proved too much for Roman Bürki, a rebound dropped straight into the path of Rudy who bundled it home to give Hoffenheim the lead. Dortmund couldn’t really find an answer to Nagelsmann’s heavy pressing system and were left trailing 1:0 at the halftime whistle.
Tuchel made a change in the second half, bringing on Ilkay Gündogan for Shinji Kagawa. The move didn’t disappoint; Gündogan looked very sharp and provided Dortmund with flair that they were missing in the first half, and Dortmund were looking much more dangerous.
In the blink of an eye
In the 58th minute, goa- scorer Rudy made a big splash when he cynically tackled Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang from behind to half a dangerous-looking counterattack, and the referee had no hesitation giving Rudy a straight red! This proved to be the turning point of the match. The Dortmund players and fans finally started to believe.
Nagelsmann reacted quickly. Volland was dropped back, and Nadiem Amiri was substituted for Eugen Polanski to help defend the one-goal lead, but Dortmund’s pressure was relentless.
Eventually, Dortmund took the lead in the 80th minute thanks to Henrikh Mkhitaryan. ‘Miki’ latched onto a great ball from Gundogan and calmly placed the shot to the far post to find the elusive breakthrough.
Dortmund were looking more and more dangerous as the game progressed. In the 85th minute, Dortmund took the lead through Adrian Ramos, who scored with an emphatic header from a Piszczek cross sending the ball into the top corner of the net to take the lead. The goal left Hoffenheim shattered and heartbroken.
It was not the end of the story for Hoffenheim.
Aubameyang salted the wound in the 90th minute, just tapping in a pass from Mkhitaryan to make it 3:0 to complete the amazing comeback from Borussia Dortmund.
Borussia Dortmund have now scored 101 goals in 39 games this season under new coach Thomas Tuchel.
As impressive as it seems. #HejaBVB
— Anas Ali Molla (@CoverShadow09) February 29, 2016
Borussia Dortmund now extend their lead over fourth-place Borussia Mönchengladbach to an astounding 18 points and lead bitter rival Schalke 04 by 19 points. Even as a Dortmund fan, I’d pay respect to Nagelsmann for executing his plans perfectly, despite being denied at the end. No wonder there the huge amount of optimism surrounding the young coach after this impressive performance. They now trail Werder by three for the relegation play-off spot and still have a lot of work to do if they want to stay in the Bundesliga next season.
Man of the Match
Henrikh Mkhitaryan was the catalyst behind Dortmund’s attack. He looked dangerous every time he got onto the ball by providing flair, switching flanks, and offering diversified movements, not to mention his assist on the deadlock-breaking goal.
.@HenrikhMkh vs Hoffenheim:
5 key passes
3/3 successful dribbles
1 shot on target
77% pass completion
— BVBstatistics (@BVBstat) February 28, 2016
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