Borussia Dortmund missed out on the Bundesliga title despite winning 2-0 (1-0) at Borussia Mönchengladbach and finishing with their third-highest points tally of all time. The Black & Yellows, who picked up their 23rd victory thanks to goals from Jadon Sancho and Marco Reus, ultimately finished the 2018/19 season in second spot.
Boris Rupert reporting from Mönchengladbach
The 54,022 spectators in attendance, including 10,000 BVB fans, saw Traore strike the woodwork for Gladbach before Sancho netted for BVB on the stroke of half-time. The Black & Yellows upped the intensity after the interval and deservedly doubled their advantage on the 54-minute mark when Marco Reus scored. It could have been 3-0, too: Elvedi almost scored an own goal, only for the post to spare his blushes.
Second-placed BVB had won each of their previous seven meetings with fourth-placed Gladbach, who were competing with Bayer Leverkusen and Eintracht Frankfurt for the fourth and final Champions League berth. Dortmund, meanwhile, were still in with a chance of winning the title. But for that to happen, they needed to beat the Foals and hope Bayern lost at home.
Lucien Favre made three changes to the starting XI that had beaten Fortuna Düsseldorf 3-2 last time out. The Swiss tactician reintroduced Bürki, Sancho and Reus in place of Hitz, Bruun Larsen and Alcácer, who all started on the bench.
Gladbach dropped deep whenever Dortmund − who lined up in their usual 4-2-3-1 formation − had possession and doubled up on their pacey wingers, with Beyer and Traoré covering Pulisic on the right flank and Wendt and Hazard tracking Sancho on the left side. Their game plan was to wait for quick counter-attacking opportunities to arise. And when they did, the Foals would switch to a 4-3-3 system and central midfielders Zakaria and Hofmann would push forward to support the attackers.
The match & analysis:
The Black & Yellows initially struggled to settle into their rhythm, with an off-target Reus header from a Götze cross in the seventh minute and a dangerous Piszczek header following a corner in the 24th minute the only half-chances for the visitors at the outset. They lacked tempo, ideas and at times precision, meaning Gladbach had few problems getting into the right positions to close them down.
Dortmund were clearly fearful of conceding a goal in the opening stages. After all, Gladbach did not necessarily need to win the game in order to achieve their aims, and that meant the hosts could be patient, soak up the pressure and pose a threat on the counter-attack. One such opportunity came in the 12th minute when Traoré found himself in plenty of space on the right and struck a curling effort from the edge of the area that thundered back off the post. Gladbach had more control over the game at that stage and again went close with Hofmann's effort from distance on 14 minutes.
But BVB had something of a resurgence towards the end of the first period and gradually began to establish a foothold in the game. Reus struck the side-netting with a free-kick from 17 metres in the 37th minute, before Witsel and Pulisic were crowded out in the box five minutes later. But the breakthrough finally came on the stroke of half-time when Delaney played a pass to Reus down the left. The captain's first cross was blocked, but his second attempt was palmed into the path of Sancho by Sommer and the young Englishman volleyed home from close range. The goal was subsequently reviewed for two and a half minutes to check whether the ball went out of play before Reus' second cross, but it was ultimately allowed to stand.
BVB were a different team entirely after the break, playing with a degree of momentum, power and tempo that allowed them to create a spate of gilt-edged chances. Reus fired Sancho's pass in behind the defence over the bar on 51 minutes, before Sommer saved a shot on the turn from the BVB captain a minute later. The second goal, which came two minutes later, was beautifully created with Sancho accelerating from the halfway and feeding Götze, who returned the ball to the Englishman. He picked out Pulisic on the right of the box and the American's square ball was tapped home by the onrushing Reus. It was almost 3-0 four minutes later when Elvedi deflected a Sancho cross against his own post.
Guerreiro's effort from 16 metres sailed centimetres wide on the 83-minute mark, while Gladbach twice posed a threat − through Drmic (62) and Plea (74) − in front of Bürki's goal.
The 2019/20 Bundesliga season kicks off on 17 August, with the First Round of the DFB Cup taking place the week beforehand (draw on 15 June). Should Bayern Munich emerge victorious in this year's cup final, then BVB will take part in the Super Cup final. According to the fixture calendar, that match is scheduled to take place on 3 August.