Dortmund’s 4-4 draw in the Revierderby was horrendously poetic. The match became an analogy for Dortmund’s entire 2017 campaign thus far. It began with Dortmund’s high-flying attack that produced four first-half goals. Then after a Peter Bosz halftime talk, Dortmund came out lost, confused, and with a backline in shambles and a goalkeeper who forgot his duties. And of course, it all culminated in great performance up front, a shambolic defense, and a disappointing scoreline.
It was supposed to be a change in power. Heading into the Revierderby, Schalke sat remarkably in second place on 23 points, and Dortmund licked their wounds in fifth place on 20 points. The Revierderby was, in the minds of Schalke, their chance to finally put the last nail in Dortmund’s 2017 coffin. Everything was shaping up for Schalke heading into the derby. Schalke was unbeaten in their last 7 matches with 5 of those being wins. On the other hand, Dortmund was in a death spiral, embarrassed and ejected from Champions League at the mid-week, and the top four in the league getting further and further ahead of them. Schalke looked to travel to Signal Iduna Park and send a final message to Dortmund: this year is Schalke’s years.
But the story that would unfold in front of our eyes was one with many more twists and turns.
The Calm Before the Storm
The first half saw a feast of Dortmund goals. They came early and often as the yellow and black racked up 4 goals in the first 45’. The first came from a great team goal that saw Pulisic cut the ball back across the face of goal for an Aubameyang far-post finish. Then came the Schalke own goal as they became self-defeating. Then it was the Super Mario Gotze header that found the back of the net from an Aubameyang cross. Five minutes later, Guerreiro gets his first goal of the season off an incredible volley finish.
It was as if Dortmund had bottled up all their frustration and anger from the last two months of disappointing results and let it fuel them for the Revierderby–at least in the first half. They were brave and graceful in attack. They ran over Schalke in the midfield. In front of goal, they were lethal, bold, and absolutely clinical, making Schalke pay at every turn.
Flip the Script
But as much as the first half was Dortmund’s, the second half was all Schalke’s. The old cliché of the match of two halves became the narrative to define the 90 minutes. Right out of the second-half gates, Schalke foreshadowed what was to come by putting the ball in the back of the net on an offside goal. It would be called back with the help of VAR, but Dortmund would later realize, this was only one of many more goals to come.
The first two Schalke goals to count came back-to-back in the 61 and then the 64 minute. Both goals came in open play. Schalke stretched BVB’s backline with probing through balls. They found space down their right flank. After the first two goals went it, Schalke was able to pin Dortmund back in their own half as they slowly ratcheted up the pressure.
If back to back goals weren’t enough to shake Dortmund, Aubameyang’s sending off was certainly the tipping point. As the ref raised the second yellow for Aubameyang in the 71 minute, Schalke tasted blood in the water. Peter Bosz attempted to stop the bleeding by switching to a four-man backline, but it was all for naught. The damage had been done. It was as if the two forthcoming late Schalke goals were written in a prophecy. You could sense them in the air. As the 80 minute came, Dortmund sat deep in their own half, defending their 2 goal lead, down a man, and missing their prolific striker.
Then came the 85’ Daniel Caligiuri goal.
Then, in what seemed to be a divine moment, the Brazilian defender Naldo rose into the air on angel wings to head home a 93’ minute cross to end the match at 4-4.
As the whistle blew to end the match, the fists began to fly. The post-match scuffle ended with two yellow cards, one each for Sahin and Fährmann.
The Ghost of Jurgen Klopp
Somehow the spirts of Klopp’s leaking defense still haunt the backline of Dortmund. In what appeared to be an attempt to create a meme, Dortmund’s utter defensive collapse in the second half laid bare a season’s worth of wrongdoings. As if inspired by Liverpool’s mid-week second-half collapse, Dortmund sought to recreate it, but in a more horrific fashion. If blowing a three-goal halftime lead is a footballing sin, then Dortmund blowing a four-goal lead is an abomination to mankind itself.
Peter Bosz will certainly not see the January transfer window. There’s a real good chance he might not see training on Monday. Without a doubt, Bosz must go, but I do not lay the blame for blowing a 4 goal lead on him. Reckless challenges, a sending off, a confused defense, and an ineffective goalkeeper are all to blame before pointing the finger at the manager. If the first half was evidence of anything, it was that Bosz had the squad ready for the match.
It’s the Revierderby and you are up 4-0. If that wasn’t enough to galvanize the Dortmund squad, then there is nothing a manager could have done.
Once the whistle blew to end the match, and the fight was broke up, what we are left with in the aftermath is a Schalke side who didn’t show up to play in the first half but found themselves in the second. They showed heart, desire, and determination to will themselves back into the match. They found redemption from their first-half sins.
As for Dortmund, the one point was enough to lift them in fourth place, at least temporarily. If Bayern can get the job done against Monchengladbach, Dortmund can enjoy a week of being in top four again. If not, they’ll be back out of Champions League qualification by 3 points—lost at sea with no captain to steer the ship and no destination in sight.