March 22, 2017

BVB Bulletin: a Dead Leg, some Dead Play, yet a Win in Dresden

Post-derby matches, especially post-Revierderby matches, are letdowns. Make no mistake about it. Dortmund’s somewhat undeserved 2-0 road win the Pokal round of 16 on Tuesday evening was a letdown match.

Sometimes we forget that athletes are humans, and, like humans, are psychological beings, despite the apparatuses of mechanization and technique that supposedly beats the human out of them. As psychological beings, Dortmund’s Startelf against Dynamo Dresden were emotionally (and physically?) depleted after Saturday’s cathartic Revierderby win.

The match’s biggest news, however, was Marco Reus’ injury. Inside 20′, He was hacked by a vicious challenge from Dynamo centerback Dennis Erdmann. The former Schalke man tracked up Reus in an off-the-ball play.

Marco Reus. Collective breathes being held. (Courtesy of the AP)
Marco Reus. Collective breaths held. (Courtesy of the AP)

After the match, an unapologetic Erdmann shared these fine words (shots fired!) about his collision with Reus:

“Reus ran against my knee, and suffered a thigh knock. I played in the Kreisliga [the lowest division in German football] in the past. There, you’d have only looked at it, rubbed it, and played on. But I don’t think that’s common in the Bundesliga business these days.”

You heard Dennis, Marco. Get the hell up and rub your damn thigh. That’ll wake the limb up. What’s the Bundesliga coming to these days anyway? Sheesh.

Erdmann plays hard man till the end.

However, Erdmann doesn’t have to worry about protecting the millions and millions of Euros invested in Reus, does he? Early reports emerged that Reus suffered a dead leg (geek out and read the basics here). Dead leg has such an ominous ring. Poor muscles. However, reports today have emerged that he mostly suffered a bruised knee, not a torn ACL as some feared yesterday (gulp). Catastrophe averted.

Speaking of dead, you might be wondering about the match itself.

Dortmund certainly played as if they were half dead. I don’t have official passing data, but BVB’s Fehlpass rate (misplaced passes) had to be high in the 1st half. The passing was sloppy enough that ESPN commentator, the legendary Alan Fountain, chided Dortmund about it repeatedly.

Everything seemed off for BVB. Besides the passing, our Schwarzgelben were playing in Weiß, while the Dresden side played in yellow shirt and black shorts (a sharp kit, I might add).

Klopp trotted out a typical 4-2-3-1 with Kagawa playing the central attacking midfielder and Immobile taking the place of Aubameyang on top. I thought Mkhityan might start over Kagawa to continue the Armenian’s process of earning more regular playing time. But nope. Kehl started for Sahin, while the backline stayed the same.

However, these details don’t really matter. It probably didn’t matter who Klopp played on Tuesday. BVB was clearly out of steam after Saturday’s Revierderby. As Fountain repeated in his calling, Dortmund never looked to reach beyond 3rd gear. And you can’t blame the boys. Heck, I still felt giddily drained from Saturday’s big win and I didn’t run 12 km.

Yet I don’t want to detract from Dynamo Dresden’s mostly smart and well-organized play. Playing in something like a 4-4-1-1, they synchronized movement efficiently and, dare I say beautifully, on Tuesday – perhaps giving Schalke boss Roberto di Matteo a lesson on what defensive play could look like against Dortmund.

The 3rd division side certainly played a defensive game, packing eight back and physically challenging Dortmund all over the pitch. However, the skill gap between the two sides was evident when Dynamo tried to break with speed (it didn’t have enough) and timing (too imprecise). This difficulty meant that Justin Eilers, Dynamo’s 17 goal man, was frustrated. Or that winger Niklas Kreutzer just couldn’t quite complete the break. Regardless, in the 2nd half Dynamo made progress on Kreutzer’s right flank as fullback Nils Teixeira made frequent forays into BVB territory. But it just wasn’t enough for Dynamo.

In a stroke of good luck, Dortmund scored the opener when Immobile intercepted – more like received – a square pass in front of Dynamo’s goal from centerback Michael Hefele. Yeah. It looked like this:

Devastating bad luck for Dynamo, who should’ve held on to a scoreless match until the final minutes. On the Hefele error, Fountain stammered: “It was just a blackout. An absolute blackout.”

BVB made its share of mistake though. Eilers broke the offside trap with a clear scoring chance only to be called offside wrongly. Later, Hummels lost his footing during a one-on-one challenge inside his own box to let the attacker through, but the shot was scuffed.

But all matches, even for a seemingly half-dead side, must end. And Immobile ended it at 89′ when Adrian Ramos (who’d subbed in) stole the ball in BVB’s territory, sparking the break. He was tackled, but the ball found Gündogan, who soon found an open Kuba with acres of spaces. The Polish international aggressively seized the space with an equally aggressively angle (top level fußball, yo), then assisted an unmarked Immobile, who easily finished. From the dugout, a coat-covered Reus “raised the roof” in celebrations with his arms.

Dortmund was gifted, and prompted received the gifts in this match.

The 8th place (in Bundesliga 3) Dynamo certainly looked more like a competent Bundesliga 2 side. Of course, their legendary support was full and bass-throated loud throughout the entire match. I know I have a new Bundesliga 3 to cheer for.

Meanwhile, it’s time for BVB to reset after the Englishe Woche action. Hopefully, this Pokal match sets up a buffer between the raging highs of the Revierderby and the catatonic lows of Tuesday’s match. A trip to struggling Hamburger SV awaits die Schwarzgelben on Saturday. Some psychological resetting is needed.

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Travis serves as an editor and regular columnist here. Born and groomed in Santa Fe, New Mexico, Travis is a college English instructor in Pittsburgh. Coffee, books, and coaching the U6s are his passions. His writing has also appeared in Bloomberg Sports, the Good Man Project, and his former blog, Sportisourstory.tumblr.com, and elsewhere. He tweets at @tptimmons. Heja BVB!

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