So before we start maybe I should tell you guys a joke. You know, to lighten the mood after this travesty. So here it goes:
Sebastian Rode played 90 minutes in this game....
That's it. That's the joke, feeling better? Probably not.
To be fair, it's not entirely on Rode, most of the blame should fall on Thomas Tuchel and his inability to make the right decision when the team needed him to. but let's start at the beginning.
A very bad first half
The first ever Bundesliga meeting of RB Leipzig and Borussia Dortmund started hectic and uneven. BVB had the majority of possession, which was expected, and Leipzig pressed high and smart.
Most of the time when opponents press high against Dortmund they make the mistake of pressuring everybody all the time. This allows the black and yellows to sit back and wait until they get tired and then turn up the tempo even more until their defensive-line inevitably breaks. Unfortunately this wasn't the case today.
Leipzig's coach Ralph Hasenhüttl simply ordered his team to press against Bartra and leave Sokratis mostly alone. Even worse was the situation in our midfield, Weigl was doubled or tripled while Rode was unmarked most of the time. They were able to execute this game-plan because both Sokratis and Rode were atrocious in the build-up today.
The situation was made even worse by the decision to play Castro on the right wing. Castro is not a winger and it clearly showed today. Him and Piszczek had no chemistry throughout the entire game, having several misunderstandings. Towards the end of the first half Castro drifted exceedingly to the inside crowding that space even more, allowing Leipzig to tighten up on defense and completely stifling every effort from Götze.
Speaking of him, the lone bright spot in the first half was Mario Götze. In his return for Dortmund he looked good even though he wasn't involved all that much in the game because of our inability to get into the last third of the pitch. However whenever he had the ball he looked sharp, having a few good runs and showing some good chemistry with Schürrle.
An even worse second half
If you thought things would turn around in the second half, well, they didn't.
Tuchel shockingly opted not to make any substitutions at half-time even though the Weigl-Rode combination was clearly not working. Leipzig continued to press high and there was no sign of them getting tired. Dortmund's inaccuracy didn't help either.
BVB continued their poor play from the first half while Leipzig grew increasingly more confident in their counter-attacks. By the end of the game it was clear which team wanted to get the three points and which one was happy with just a draw.
Surprisingly it was in that phase of the game when Dortmund had their best chance of the game. After an excellent run from Piszczek on the right side of the field he found a wide open André Schürrle in the middle who had nothing but open space between him and the goal. Unfortunately he hit the crossbar with his shot, wasting BVB's best chance at three points today. Showcasing how poor this game actually was from our side, this was the only shot on target that the black and yellows could muster during this match.
So in the 89th minute, the game took its inevitable course. After our back-line failed to clear an easy long ball from Leipzig's goalkeeper Gulacsi, Rode lost a duel in midfield and RBL was able to take advantage of the confusion in our back-line. Forsberg passed the ball to an open Oliver Burke on the right side of the box who had no trouble finding a left-alone Naby Keita for the easy tip-in.
What went wrong?
Well, the blame for this loss should fall on Thomas Tuchel. He's one of the best young coaches in the world but even Tuchel isn't 100% fail-safe. To start the Weigl-Rode pairing was a bad idea and granted that can happen sometimes. Even in the age of constant analyzing and evaluations, sometimes coaches, also the smart ones, are wrong. That is excusable and just human nature.
However, the decision to let it drag out for the entire game when you have a plethora of other options at your disposal isn't excusable and today it cost us three points. Rode had no business coming out of that locker room in the second half after his first half performance. This game was lost because of our inability to keep possession for long periods of time and our line-up in midfield played a big role in that.
Hopefully well see a very different Borussia Dortmund in our next game on Wednesday against Legia Warsaw because I really don't want to see this expression from Schmelzer ever again.