In Jürgen Klopp's first game back at the Westfalenstadion since last May, his Liverpool side gave Dortmund one of the toughest games they've had in 2016. A big deal was made of the return of Dortmund's former coach, and it would certainly make sense if it had an effect on the Dortmund players.
Thomas Tuchel reintroduced Mats Hummels and Roman Weidenfeller into the side, while Erik Durm retained his place after a poor performance against Werder Bremen. Ilkay Gündoğan wasn't in the squad, despite returning to team training on Tuesday. Klopp opted for Divock Origi at striker over the out of form Daniel Sturridge, and the decision paid off.
Neither side were in full control of the game in the first half, but it was Dortmund who had the better chances. Julian Weigl played a beautiful ball to find Marcel Schmelzer alone in the box, who cut it back to Henrikh Mkhitaryan. His shot was then fantastically blocked by Mamadou Sakho, who enjoyed a brilliant game. It was first big chance of the match, and it should have been converted. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang led a two on one with Marco Reus and Mamadou Sakho, but the ball to Reus was blocked by the impressive Liverpool defender.
Liverpool took the lead through a goal from Divock Origi in the 36th minute. Alberto Moreno's ball to James Milner was flicked on to Origi, who fought off Piszczek and was able to finish it, with a small deflection off the Dortmund right back. Weidenfeller might've saved it if it weren't for the deflection, but it was marginal. Mats Hummels said after the game that he maybe should have stayed back instead of going up for an aerial duel with Milner that he wasn't going to win, but hindsight is 20/20. It wasn't a completely undeserved lead for Liverpool, but Dortmund understandably could feel a little hard done by.
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Liverpool pushed on after the first goal, and nearly got a second right before the end of the half. A giveaway by Erik Durm saw Liverpool counter, and it took a nice save from Roman Weidenfeller to keep it at 1-0. Durm was Dortmund's worst player in the first half, giving the ball away at least seven times. His performance against Bremen didn't warrant another start, so it was surprising to see him included again. He was replaced by Nuri Sahin at the start of the second half.
It didn't take long after halftime for Dortmund to find their equalizer, and it came through the head of Mats Hummels, one of Dortmund's better performers on the day. Off a short corner, Mkhitaryan's cross found Hummels, who was being marked by Adam Lallana. It was no contest, and Hummels' header went in despite a hand from Simon Mignolet.
After the equalizer, Liverpool were on the attack, and forced three great saves from Roman Weidenfeller within a span of 30 seconds. Weidenfeller is a big reason the game finished at 1-1, and he's almost certainly the man of the match for Dortmund. Him and Hummels were Dortmund's two best players on the day, with Mats showing off his passing range and build-up play throughout the game.
Matt Hummels. Ball playing centre back. pic.twitter.com/mBUP0ZvqpJ— G A Z (@MidKnightGaz) April 7, 2016
For the rest of the game, Dortmund attacked, but Dejan Lovren and Mamadou Sakho weren't having any of it. They seemed to sniff out nearly every Dortmund attack, and when they didn't, the final ball seemed to be lacking. Huge credit has to go to Liverpool's defense, as Dortmund just couldn't find a breakthrough.
xG map for Dortmund-Liverpool. Klopp's Liverpool pulled off one of their best performances of the year. pic.twitter.com/5oKLUHE3fV— Michael Caley (@MC_of_A) April 7, 2016
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Sven Bender were subbed off around the 75th minute, likely just for some rest before the important Revierderby at the weekend. Christian Pulisic and Sokratis came on, and the biggest impact either of them made was Sokratis' yellow card. Dortmund didn't have any clear chances to find a winner, so it'll come down to the second leg at Anfield.
This was a game where Dortmund sorely missed Ilkay Gündoğan, despite another good performance from Julian Weigl. Gonzalo Castro did not look as sharp as previous weeks, and Erik Durm lost possession countless times in the midfield. Dortmund needed a calming presence, but without Gündoğan, they weren't going to find it. Sahin helped, and gave Hummels more of an opportunity to go forward, but games like this show how irreplaceable Ilkay is, despite some good performances we've had without him.
With Liverpool getting the draw and an away goal, the ball is their court. A 0-0 draw at Anfield sees them through, a 1-1 draw forces extra time, and any other draw with two or more goals each sees Dortmunds through. Dortmund must win at Anfield, where no German team has ever won before, or force a draw multi-goal-on-both-sides draw to advance to the semifinals.