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Leverkusen 2-0 Dortmund: Physically Overpowered By The Press

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Dortmund failed to capitalize on Bayern's dropped points, losing 2-0 to Leverkusen.

Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

Borussia Dortmund fell to Leverkusen on Saturday night by a 2-0 scoreline, after going nine years without a defeat in the BayArena.

Thomas Tuchel's starting eleven feature a decent amount of rotation, as Marcel Schmelzer and Mario Gotze both were on the bench. Raphael Guerreiro played as a hybrid left back-left mid, while Sebastian Rode and Gonzalo Castro shared the rest of the midfield duties.

Dortmund had a big chance to capitalize on some Bayern Munich dropped points as they drew 1-1 to Cologne. A win today would've seen the deficit behind the leaders cut to just one point. However, things did not start off well for Dortmund, as Leverkusen struck in the 12th minute through Admir Mehmedi. It was a proverbial "sad piece", as the goal came from a set piece corner. Julian Weigl was marking Mehmedi, but was outmuscled and fell down as Mehmedi went for the header. It was the ideal start for Roger Schmidt's team.

Leverkusen got an early goal, and were content to press Dortmund heavily while in possession, something which Dortmund have struggled against earlier this season against RB Leipzig. Ousmane Dembele was particularly disappointing on the day, as his take ons rarely worked, and offered little else in attack. Against Freiburg and Real Madrid, Dembele was significantly more effective despite being wasteful in front of goal. Today, he never found himself in any scoring positions, mostly because of his inability to fool a strong, experienced center back pairing of Omer Toprak and Jonathan Tah.

It was clear that Dortmund need some changes, and at halftime, Marcel Schmelzer and Emre Mor were brought on. The two replaced Gonzalo Castro and Christian Pulisic, moving Guerreiro more centrally where hopefully he could resist the press and instill some creativity. However, the second half was just more of the same. Like Dembele, Emre Mor was relatively ineffective, and Dortmund found chances hard to come by. Sebastian Rode had a decent chance but tried to back heel it like he successfully did against Darmstadt, but it didn't come off.

Photo by Lars Baron/Bongarts/Getty Images

Possession was dominated by the black and yellows, but that's where Dortmund's domination stopped. Leverkusen showed today why some consider their defense to be the Bundesliga's second best to Bayern, as Toprak and Tah were all over Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Mor, and Dembele.

While Dortmund were pressing on for an equalizer, Leverkusen grabbed their second goal on a counterattack. Hakan Calhanoglu broke free in the box, and sent a cross that somehow passed through both Matthias Ginter and Raphael Guerreiro until it was tapped in by Javier Hernandez. It effectively killed any chance Dortmund had of making a comeback. As the xG map shows, Leverkusen couldn't have done a better job containing the Dortmund attack.

It was an extremely disappointing performance from Dortmund, especially after the midweek thriller against Real Madrid. A performance of the same intensity was going to be needed to beat Leverkusen on their day, and none of that was found today. Dortmund were physically out battled by players like Kevin Kampl, Charles Aranguiz, Omer Toprak, and Jonathan Tah. On another day, this could have ended 0-0, but Leverkusen capitalized on a defensive shortcoming from Dortmund and never looked back.