Borussia Dortmund suffered a 2-1 (1-1) away defeat at the hands of VfB Stuttgart – who scored a goal in the opening stages of each half – on Matchday 12 of the Bundesliga season.
Dennis-Julian Gottschlich reporting
The 60,449 spectators packed into a sold-out Mercedes-Benz-Arena saw BVB caught off-guard in the opening stages as VfB took advantage of a misunderstanding between Bürki and Bartra to open the scoring on the five-minute mark. The Westphalians deservedly restored parity in first-half stopapge time when Philipp fired home a penalty rebound but, factoring in the half-time interval, the visitors were only level for six minutes before Brekalo rounded off a counter-attack to re-establish Stuttgart's lead on the 51-minute mark. Borussia came close to equalising again through Yarmolenko (71) and Schürrle (73) but the hosts held on for the win.
Twelfth-placed Stuttgart were hosting third-placed Borussia Dortmund, who had only won one of their previous seven outings and, having lost the Klassiker to Bayern a fortnight ago, were hoping for an upturn in fortunes ahead of the Ruhr derby with Schalke next weekend. The hosts, meanwhile, were unbeaten at home in 2017, having won 11 and drawn three games in front of their own fans.
Pulisic, who was ruled out at short notice with muscular problems, joined Piszczek, Reus, Rode and Durm on the injury list, while Aubameyang was absent from the squad for disciplinary reasons. Schürrle made his first appearance of the season at centre-forward in the Gabon international's stead. Peter Bosz made three other changes to the team that lost to Bayern, bringing in Toljan, Götze and Philipp in place of Toprak, Castro and Pulisic. VfB were without Meyer, Kaminski, Burnic, Mané, Zimmermann and Donis.
BVB lined up in their usual 4-3-3, while Stuttgart started in a 3-4-3 in which Insua dropped back into defence whenever Dortmund had possession of the ball. Pavard man-marked Philipp, while Badstuber kept close tabs on Schürrle and Yarmolenko had two opponents – Baumgartl and Insua – to contend with down the left. To avoid being outnumbered in midfield by Götze, Weigl and Kagawa, as well as advancing full-backs Toljan and Schmelzer, Beck played slightly further forward from the defence on the right – always keeping a close eye on Kagawa – and left-winger Özcan often drifted across into the centre of midfield.
The match & analysis:
Only five minutes had elapsed when Borussia Dortmund suffered their first setback, with the hosts opening the deadlock through Akolo. The Congo midfielder took advantage of a misunderstanding between Bürki and Bartra, who overhit a backpass from the edge of the box as the Swiss shot-stopper came racing off his line. The pace of the ball made it difficult to bring under control, allowing the Stuttgart man to steal possession and slot into an empty net from a few metres out (5).
The early opener left BVB chasing the game, but they did create first-half goalscoring opportunities through Schürrle (3/14), Yarmolenko (8) and Götze (28). Stuttgart custodian Zieler, however, was equal to them all and never really came under threat until Götze unleashed a strike from 16 metres out on the 35-minute mark. The match developed into a hard-fought encounter in which the Black & Yellows were largely dominant, recording almost 70 percent possession in the opening 30 minutes, producing some good link-up play and looking relatively solid at the back.
Philipp slots home rebound
BVB piled on the pressure and were finally rewarded with the leveller on the stroke of half-time when they were awarded a spot-kick for a clear handball by Pavard. Zieler did well to save Schürrle's initial effort but Philipp was quickest to react and fired the rebound into the top corner from seven metres out to get the deserved equaliser for the visitors in the third minute of first-half stoppage time.
The equaliser should have given BVB the edge, but VfB came racing out of the blocks in the second half and grabbed another early goal to re-establish their lead. The Swabians surprised their visitors – who replaced the injured Sokratis with Zagadou at the interval – with a lightning-quick counter-attack down the right flank. Brekalo outmanoeuvred Zagadou inside the penalty area before pulling the trigger from 12 metres out, his shot nutmegging both the young Frenchman and then Bürki, who did not see the ball until late (51). It was another setback for Borussia Dortmund, who were left chasing the game for the second time.
A Yarmolenko goal on 71 minutes was disallowed, the match officials believing the Ukrainian had unintentionally handled the ball in the build-up, before Zieler made a strong save from Schürrle two minutes later. The hosts, meanwhile, missed several chances to score a third. Bartra made a strong challenge to deny Asano (64), who later fired a shot on the turn over the crossbar (80), while Özcan narrowly missed from a scissor-kick (72). BVB, meanwhile, created no further clear-cut chances to salvage a point late on.
Next up for BVB is a home UEFA Champions League tie with Tottenham Hotspur on Tuesday (20:45 CET). Next Saturday (25/11, 15:30 CET), they resume their domestic campaign with a Ruhr derby meeting with rivals Schalke 04.