Derbies are always must win matches, but this Revierderby didn't feel as important as others have in the past. While Thomas Tuchel decided to make eight changes to his midweek line-up, Schalke's coach Andre Breitenreiter also left key players Max Meyer and Eric Choupo-Moting on the bench.
When asked prior to the game, Thomas Tuchel said he would rather progress in the Europa League than win the derby. While few fans would disagree with that sentiment, most fans would still probably have preferred a stronger starting eleven. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Marco Reus, and Henrikh Mkhitaryan were all left on the bench, while Moritz Leitner and Christian Pulisic both earned their second league start of the season.
HT: 0-0 at the Veltins-Arena. Dortmund do have some decent options on the bench though... pic.twitter.com/7oLrvkGa0P— Onefootball (@Onefootball) April 10, 2016
Dortmund's first half set up was a weird one, as they lined up with three center backs, Mats Hummels, Sven Bender, and Sokratis, flanked by two wing backs in Erik Durm and Matthias Ginter. The defense was significantly stronger in the first half, possibly because of the absence of Mats Hummels in the second half. Sokratis was the central defender of the three, and didn't put on his best display of the season.
The Hummels-Bender partnership seems to be the strongest one at the moment, but Tuchel likely went with the back three to give Erik Durm and Matthias Ginter more freedom to get up the pitch.
17 year old American Christian Pulisic was arguably Dortmund's most impressive player in the first half, creating most of the chances that Dortmund saw in the first 45 minutes. He was unlucky not to score on a brilliant run, but he shot was saved by Schalke goalkeeper Ralf Fährmann. Tuchel showed incredible trust in the young American just by starting him in a game like this, and he certainly delivered.
Other than Leroy Sane's strike against the woodwork, there weren't too many other chances in the first half. Adrian Ramos, the Bundesliga's most efficient scorer, did not find himself in any goal-getting positions. The Colombian displayed some nice hold up play, but was relatively uninvolved in anything else. This first half wasn't the most exciting first 45 minutes off all the Revierderbies.
However, the second half was a much different story. Henrikh Mkhitaryan was brought on in place of Mats Hummels, who had a cold. The Armenian's impact was almost instant, and it was three minutes later that Dortmund took the lead. The move was started and finished by Shinji Kagawa, who's become accustomed to scoring important goals in the derby. Kagawa played a one-two with Moritz Leitner, who's return ball to Kagawa was beautifully chipped over Fährmann from the edge of the box.
Kagawa has been massively out of favor with Thomas Tuchel lately, but was one of the better performers on the day, and scored one beautiful goal.
It didn't take long for Schalke to equalize, however, as Dortmund were much more open at the back after taking the lead. The ball bounced around in the box and Dortmund failed to clear it, and Leroy Sane was able to slot it in to make it 1-1, only his second goal since October 31st. Sane enjoyed another strong performance against Dortmund, as his pace caused many problems throughout the match. The game felt very open, which has played into Dortmund's favor in most games this season.
Dortmund came roaring back, and a scrappy header from Matthias Ginter saw them take the lead five minutes later. After Mkhitaryan's free kick was deflected up into the air, the ball fell to Ginter, who took advantage of Schalke's terrible marking. It's Ginter's first goal since he last scored this season, which was also against Schalke. Another derby-day performer in the making for Dortmund! He paid for that goal in the 80th minute, as he got elbowed in the lip by Younes Belhanda.
Once again, Dortmund failed to hold onto this lead as Sokratis fouled Klaas-Jan Huntelaar in the box, giving away a penalty. It was the correct decision from Felix Swayer, and Huntelaar rolled the ball into the back of the net. Both teams were trading defensive mistakes back and forth, which made it seem like there were more goals to come.
Dortmund had a couple good chances to find the winner, but both fell to Aubameyang, who came off the bench. A more in-form striker might've finished them off, but you can't have too many complaints with Aubameyang. Ilkay Gündoğan also came off the bench in the 73rd minute to make his first appearance since March 5th. He looked strong despite the month long absence, and might've been the difference if he had started the match.
The draw is a subpar result for both teams, as Dortmund lost ground to Bayern and failed to do the double over Schalke, a feat they've only accomplished once in the 2000s. Schalke failed to capitalize on dropped points from nearly every team surrounding them, and remain in seventh place.
A stronger line-up from the start probably wins the game for Dortmund, but it's the defensive problems that are to blame. It might've been worth it to leave Hummels on for the second half, as they could've used not only his attacking ability, but his defensive acumen as well. In a wild second half that featured four goals and six yellow cards, Dortmund needed the presence of a captain to weather the storm.
xG map for the Revierderby. Looks like this result was pretty rough on Dortmund? pic.twitter.com/F5MAv2XNJH— Michael Caley (@MC_of_A) April 10, 2016
Hopefully all the rotation pays off, as Dortmund head to Liverpool with fresher legs to get a result. No one will be happy with a 2-2 draw in the derby, but it's a result that fans could live with if we beat Liverpool on Thursday. After all, Thomas Tuchel seems to know best.