A Borussia Dortmund without the likes of Erling Haaland and Marco Reus lost 1-0 (1-0) at Borussia Mönchengladbach on Bundesliga Matchday 6. The Black & Yellows played 50 minutes with 10 men after Mahmoud Dahoud was sent off for two bookable offences.
Boris Rupert reporting from Mönchengladbach
The 25,000-crowd permitted to attend this battle of the Borussias – of whom 1,250 were Black & Yellows – saw a match in which the key moments occurred on the stroke of half time: Denis Zakaria first made it 1-0 (37), before Mo Dahoud was dismissed for two bookings (40). BVB battled but ultimately Gladbach ran out narrow yet deserved winners.
The 4-2 away defeat in January 2021 brought the Black & Yellows' winning run against their fellow Borussia to an end: BVB had won each of the previous 13 competitive games against the Foals. Gladbach had started their season with one win, one draw and three defeats, while Dortmund had won 11 of their last 12 leagues matches – a run that stretched back into the previous campaign.
The attacking ranks were depleted. In Erling Haaland (muscular problems), Marco Reus (irritated knee), Julian Brandt (rehab following muscle injury) and Gio Reyna (rehab), BVB were without four players who had contributed 15 of the 23 scorer points racked up by the team in the opening five matches. Can (muscular injury), Collins (knee injury), Coulibaly (fitness training), Morey (rehab following knee injury), Schmelzer (fitness training), Tigges (muscular injury) and Zagadou (lack of match fitness) were also missing with various injury concerns. Marco Rose made two changes to the team that had beaten Union Berlin 4-2 a week earlier, with Pongracic and Moukoko replacing Reus and Haaland.
BVB operated in a 3-1-4-2 system when in possession of the ball, with Witsel the anchor between the back three (Pongracic in the central role between Akanji (r.) and Hummels) and a four-man midfield (Meunier, Bellingham, Dahoud, Guerreiro). Moukoko partnered Malen in attack. The Black & Yellows tried to make the pitch as wide as they could in order to circumvent the high, four-man press by the opposition. Most of the build-up play went through Hummels. Wide men Meunier and Guerreiro at times dropped back into defence when the ball was lost, the formation then reverting to a 5-3-2. Gladbach also started with a back three, a broad midfield and three men up top, with Hofmann and Stindl (left) on the flanks coming from deeper roles to support frontman Embolo. Stindl pushed higher up more frequently from the midway point of the first half onwards and played level with Embolo.
The match & analysis:
After a hectic start – the first flare-up came after 45 seconds following a foul on Bellingham – most of the play took place in the middle of the park. Good attacks petered out, however, because the new-look attacking line-up was not on the same wavelength. The ball did find its way into the Gladbach net on the eight-minute mark, though Hummels mistimed his run on to Guerreiro's free-kick and the goal was disallowed for offside. At the other end, Hofman fired a free-kick from 16.5 metres out into the Borussia Dortmund wall (11).
Then, in the 37th minute, a game that had been completely even up to that point swung in the wrong direction. Guerreiro initially failed to clear Stindl's cross with a flick. Then Hummels intercepted a one-two between Ginter and Zakaria, but fired the ball at Bellingham and it struck his shin before rebounding into the path of Zakaria, who left Kobel no chance with a well-placed shot. Three minutes later, Dahoud challenged Scally in midfield but, despite attempting to play the ball, arrived a tad too late and the Gladbach player tumbled over his outstretched leg. Not a bad foul. When referee Aytekin ran over to Dahoud holding a yellow card aloft, he seemed to be indicating: "That's enough now. That's one foul too many." Unfortunately, though, Dahoud had already been shown a booking for a shoulder-barge on Stindl in the 10th minute and so Aytekin had to pull the red card out of his back pocket (40).
Hazard came on in place of Pongracic at the break, prompting a transition to a back four and a 4-2-3 formation with only two midfielders (Witsel and Bellingham) and Hazard up front alongside Moukoko and Malen. The Dutchman had a shooting opportunity 55 seconds after the break, and it initially wasn't obvious that the visitors were a man down. Dortmund attacked, while Gladbach waited for the chance to counter. And they almost doubled their lead when Kobel made a save to deny Hofmann's shot from a narrow angle (56). Seconds later, the ball found its way through to the unmarked Netz but Meunier thwarted the danger.
The Black & Yellows had found the net in each of their previous 37 Bundesliga matches – an ongoing club record – and a goal would not only have kept that run alive but brought team back into the game as well. Knauff came on for Moukoko in the 57th minute, but Gladbach kept the danger at bay – in part because Dortmund made the wrong decisions on the occasions where gaps did open up. Knauff, for example, found himself in lots of space on the left in the 72nd minute...
Kobel kept his team in the game when he saved Zakaria's deflected shot on the 74-minute mark, before Hummels made a critical clearance five minutes later. Wolf, Reinier and Schulz soon entered the fray. Hazard fired an 89th-minute free-kick from 23 metres out into the wall, before Reinier was denied by Sommer in stoppage time and Hazard headed the follow-up onto the roof of the net.
Next up on the agenda are two home games in the space of a week: BVB will first take on Sporting Lisbon in the UEFA Champions League on Tuesday (kick-off 21:00 CET), before welcoming FC Augsburg to SIGNAL IDUNA PARK next Saturday (15:30 CET).