Borussia Dortmund narrowly missed out on picking up their second win in as many Bundesliga matches on Friday evening as they were held to 0-0 draw at Hannover 96. There were not many goal-scoring chances, but the few that were created came agonisingly close as the woodwork twice denied the visitors a goal.
Boris Rupert reporting from Hanover
The 49,000 spectators at a sold-out HDI Arena saw an intense and physical clash in which there were few clear opportunities for either side in the opening stages. Efforts from Reus (42) and Philipp (60) hit the crossbar and post respectively but, given that Hannover created two good late chances themselves, a draw was a fair result.
H96 kicked off the 56th Bundesliga season with a 1-1 draw in Bremen, while BVB claimed a 4-1 win over Leipzig. Only against Bayern Munich have Hannover suffered more home defeats (14) in the top flight than they have against Borussia Dortmund.
Head coach Lucien Favre was forced into making one change to the starting XI, with Pulisic left at home due to muscular problems and Wolf, who began the DFB Cup tie in Fürth, his replacement in the starting line-up. New signing Alcácer did not join his team-mates on the trip to Lower Saxony.
The hosts lined up in a 3-5-2 formation in which Bebou mostly played in the hole behind the centre-forwards and full-backs Maina (right) and Albornoz (left) dropped back to expand the three-man defence into a back five when Dortmund had the ball. BVB adopted the same 4-3-3 system they had deployed against Leipzig, with Philipp in the centre-forward role.
Strong defences characterise intense opening half
The match & analysis:
Unlike their match at the HDI Arena last season (4-2), Hannover took the game to their visitors and moved the ball about fluidly without ever really creating clear goalscoring chances in the opening half. The Dortmund rearguard looked stable and was well-organised even when the hosts countered at speed, though the Black & Yellows initially lacked power going forward and precision in their build-up play against a hard-running, quick-pressing Hannover side. Most of the action took place in the middle of the park, where both teams got stuck into the challenges.
The ball did find its way into the net on 25 minutes, though Wolf was offside when Philipp played the ball. The meagre return of two shots apiece in the opening 40 minutes reflected the dominance of the respective defences.
Double chance for Reus on stroke of half-time
But the Black & Yellows twice came close to opening the scoring on the stroke of half-time, first in the 40th minute when Reus capitalised on a poor defensive header and drove into the box − only for keeper Esser to deflect the ball behind with an outstretched leg − and then two minutes later when his effort from a Dahoud assist struck the woodwork.
The opening stages of the second half saw BVB surprisingly pushed onto the back foot, with H96 creating two or three chances, though at the other end a looping Philipp header from a free-kick came back off the post (60) and an attack initiated by Dahoud almost bore fruit (68). But Reus, sprinting in at speed and with the goal at his mercy, could not make any contact with a fizzing Wolf ball that flashed across the six-yard box.
Philipp hits the woodwork too
BVB appeared to regain an element of control over the match around the hour-mark but only threatened in the aforementioned moments. At the other end, a Delaney block deflected Anton's volley from a corner behind for another corner (78) and Bürki and Diallo combined to deny Wood at the death (88).
Domestic football will now pause briefly on account of the international break, with BVB next in Bundesliga action at home to Eintracht Frankfurt on Friday 14 September.