November 19, 2017

SV Darmstadt 0 – 2 Borussia Dortmund: Guests Do Their Part to Keep Title Race Alive

Intro

Going into the match, Darmstadt clung to the bottom of the midtable, while Dortmund tried to avoid a classic “trap game” scenario with huge matches against Bayern and Tottenham Hotspur (Europa League) looming large.

The guests broke through when Adrian Ramos scored (38′, Aubameyang assisting), then sealed the deal when Erik Durm scored (53′, Ramos assisting).

As the match wrapped up, BVB’s 0-2 lead over Darmstadt sudden gained heavy significance, as Bayern lost 1-2 at home to Mainz 05. Thanks to this road win and Bayern’s loss, BVB enter Saturday’s Klassiker with a chance to pull within 2 points of Bayern.

Can you say title race?

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Augenblick

In now trademark fashion, Darmstadt made life difficult for BVB. Die Lillien pulled back into two deep defensive blocks, compressing space around the box, and conceding about 70% possession. While Dortmund passed and passed, D98 looked for counters and almost scored first, for example when Sandro Wagner or Jerome Gondorf were denied from close range.

A season ago, this was exactly the sort of match Kloppo’s Dortmund would have lost in exasperating fashion, fruitlessly battering the box with impotent crosses and fallow flank play. But not Tuchel’s Dortmund. BVB mostly approached Darmstadt’s deep defense with patient and probing build-up play.

The guests’ patience was reward at 37′ when Mats Hummels (of all people!), impersonating an attacking midfielder, dribbled around multiple Darmstadt defenders into the 6 yard box. His pass found Gonzalo Castro, who found Aubameyang, whose shot was blocked. Adrian Ramos buried the rebound.

Hummels’ dazzling run sparked the whole sequence, which shifted the match’s flow and eventual outcome in BVB’s favor.

Man of the Match

For my money, it’s Erik Durm, who easily played his best match this season and one of his best for BVB ever so far. Durm’s performance is encouraging after his long recovery from knee surgery. Against D98, the leftback’s speed and strength were in full display.

Defensively, Durm totally shut Marcel Heller “Schneller” out of the match. Heller didn’t get a shot off all match, nor did he create any chances for teammates.

Offensively, Durm created two chances and scored BVB’s 2nd goal on a shot requiring exquisite timing, athleticism, and instinct – a striker’s goal scored by the wing player.

Key Stats

Darmstadt followed their usual plan of conceding possession (65% by match’s end) and most of the shots (they attempted 5 to BVB’s 13); however, die Lillien refrained from more the physical aspects of style, logging low (for them) tallies for tackles, challenges, or even fouls. BVB looked comfortable in ball circulation as a result.

Darmstadt allowed BVB comfortable time in the central midfield as the likes of Guendogan and Weigl distributed the ball. (Courtesy of Squawka.com)
Darmstadt allowed BVB comfortable time in the central midfield as the likes of Guendogan and Weigl distributed the ball. (Courtesy of Squawka.com)

Talking points

SV Darmstadt 98:

  • Another trademark D98-styled match of trying to stifle the opponents, who, in this case, didn’t toss out their plan.
  • Sandro Wagner continue to shine, menacing BVB inside the box at times. God only knows what kind of transfer the veteran might earn in the summer if/when his side goes down.
  • With this loss, D98 slide into 14th place on 25 points only 2 points above relegation zone dwellers, Eintracht Frankfurt, who sit at 16th. Is this the beginning of the end for Darmstadt?

Borussia Dortmund:

  • Trap game avoided and a few (sick!) starters rested (Reus, Piszczek, Schmelzer, Bürki, etc.). Quest completed in a season of very consistent positive results.
  • The title race against Bayern is back on, as this win sets up a massive Klassiker match on Saturday at the Signal Iduna.
  • 17 year old and German U17 captain, Felix Passlack made his debut, playng in midfield.
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Travis serves as an editor and regular columnist here. He writes for Howler magazine's website. Born and groomed in Santa Fe, New Mexico, Travis is a college English instructor in Pittsburgh. Coffee, books, and coaching the U8s 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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