It’s that time of year again. The holiday season is upon us, but so is the Bundesliga winter break. Today’s game means that there won’t be any more competitive Dortmund matches until the end of January.
That’s really too bad. But at least we can take a month-long break from the frustration and heartache that the first half of this Bundesliga season provided.
BVB missed a chance to end the year on a high note, as they drew 1-1 today with FC Augsburg at the Westfalenstadion. In avoiding a loss Dortmund complete 2016 having gone unbeaten in all competitions at home.
Dortmund will now stay unbeaten at home across all competitions in 2016:— Squawka Football (@Squawka) December 20, 2016
Thomas Tuchel made two changes to the starting lineup that tied 2-2 with Hoffenheim on Friday. Marco Reus was suspended due to his red card, so Shinji Kagawa came into the team. Mikel Merino made only his second ever start for Dortmund at center-back, partnering Marc Bartra and pushing Matthias Ginter out to right back.
The defensive shuffling did not go well.
BVB started the game on the front foot, but withered as the first half went on. Mario Gotze was the first to come close to scoring when he struck the post on 8 minutes. But early on it was clear that BVB would again be vulnerable on the counter-attack.
Augsburg fired off a couple warning shots on the break, and then it happened. For the seventh straight time in all competitions, Dortmund conceded the first goal of the game. Former BVB-man Ji-Dong Won beat Bartra’s poor attempt at an offside trap, and eventually got the ball past Roman Weidenfeller on a second effort.
Dortmund’s defenders were lucky to get to half only having conceded one. Weidenfeller was not happy with their organization, and he made it clear by berating them for all of us to see.
There was a bit less defensive chaos in the second half after Tuchel brought Sven Bender on for Bartra at the break. Truth be told, Bartra had a shocker. He really hasn’t looked the same since coming back from injury.
Augsburg defended so well throughout the match, but they fell asleep in the opening moments of the second half. All it took was Ousmane Dembele starting a move in midfield and finishing it off in the box. He took a return pass from Kagawa and slid the ball under Marwin Hitz.
Dortmund’s 19-year-old starlet had another great game. The goal was his 4th in the Bundesliga, but nearly every time he was on the ball he did something progressive. On another day he would’ve had a couple assists too.
Auba almost added another a few minutes later with what would’ve been a stunning goal. His bicycle-kick was struck sweetly, but unfortunately was too close to Hitz. The Gabon international failed to add to his league-leading 16 goals, despite coming close quite a few times even after the sensational effort.
The last 30 minutes were all Dortmund. The home crowd anxiously awaited a winner to capitalize on the late pressure. There were plenty of chances and half-chances for players like Auba, Merino, Christian Pulisic, and Andre Schurrle, but the second breakthrough never came.
Augsburg deserve credit for successfully executing their game-plan on the road. Their defense was as resolute as it has been all season. Yes, they did bend, but they never truly broke.
Overall Tuchel’s team managed 74% possession with 23 shots and 8 shots on goal, but the most crucial stat remained equal.
The result temporarily lifts Dortmund into fourth, but surely that will change once the whole league has played.
Focus now shifts to the winter break and the January transfer window. Clearly there is much work to be done on and off the field before the boys are back in action on January 21st against Werder Bremen.