It looked like it was all over. Karim Adeyemi’s last-ditch pass looped ominously away from Bayern Munich’s net towards the goal line. If it reached the line, it would result in a goal kick for Bayern, which would surely be the final nail in the coffin for Borussia Dortmund. The only man who had a chance to keep the ball in play was Nico Schlotterbeck. The young center back had been a defensive stalwart all night, but his team would call on him one last time. It’s a convenient metaphor for how this game stands in comparison to years past. Other Dortmund players on other Dortmund teams, with 95 minutes of high-intensity football worth of fatigue aching at their muscles, would have given up on the play. But Nico Schlotterbeck didn’t.
Using every inch of his 6’2” frame, he just about managed to keep the ball in play with the tip of his outstretched boot. With no Bayern players closing him down, he had a few precious seconds to scan the penalty box and search out a target. 95% of players would have dinked it right at the edge of the six-yard box and have the ball land where it may, but Schlotterbeck picked out his man and let one rip. He lashed a cross across the frame of the goal, past the body of Stanisic, the fist of Manuel Neuer, over the heads of Dayot Upamecano and Benjamin Pavard, onto the waiting forehead of Anthony Modeste, who did the one thing Anthony Modeste has done consistently through his illustrious Bundesliga career: smash the ball off his head and into the net. It would be the last action of the match.
The Black-and-Yellows went nuts. The Westfalenstadion went nuts. I went nuts. BVB fans across the world went nuts, because Dortmund had managed to do what they hadn’t done since 2018: take a point from Bayern Munich.
For much of the game, it felt like just one more in a seemingly endless string of Dortmund losses to Bayern Munich, going back to the beginning of time. BVB started strong, limiting Bayern to exactly zero shots over the first 30 minutes, so of f—king course when Leon Goretzka smashed one inconspicuous low shot from outside the box into a sea of bodies, it happened to roll unimpeded through the tangled legs, past the glove of a diving Alexander Meyer and into the net. One shot, one goal. As BVB closed out the first half, and a flurry of chances came and went without a goal, I imagine the phrase “typical Dortmund” began to creep into the habitually pessimistic minds of more than a few fans at the stadium and around the world.
When it became 2-0, off a Leroy Sané long shot, this time one that glanced off the glove of Meyer and into the net, that same feeling multipled by 100. A one-goal deficit might have been manageable, but a two-goal hole felt like infinity. With the way Bayern Munich played from the start of the second half to about the 70th minute mark, that’s how it felt.
But then, almost from nowhere, a goal. Youssoufa Moukoko played a through ball in towards Anthony Modeste, who managed to hold off Dayot Upamecano and bounce a pass back to the youngster, who lashed a shot past Manuel Neuer and into the net.
Whatever good will from the BVB fans Modeste had bought with that assist, he almost instantaneously blew with one of the most shocking misses I’ve ever seen in a major game. Karim Adeyemi absolutely torched Josip Stanisic and smashed a cross across the mouth of the goal. All Modeste had to do was let the ball meet his foot and it would have rocketed into the net. Instead, he swung at it and missed completely. The ball hit his trailing leg and bounced harmlessly in front of the goal, giving Noussair Mazraoui a chance to clear the ball. It was one of the worst misses I’ve ever seen, especially in such a high leverage moment. I was fully prepared to excoriate Modeste in this article.
But when his header hit the back of the net in minute 90+4, sending the Yellow Wall into a frenzy, it didn’t matter any more. What a goal. What a result.
- I REALLY Liked the back line that BVB started with. It consisted of Mats Hummels and Nico Schlotterbeck at center back with Niklas Süle playing on the right. Süle did a great job against Sadio Mané and Alphonso Davies, and as a whole the back line mostly kept Bayern Munich away from dangerous areas. The best chances BVB conceded came after Hummels was withdrawn at half time. As I mentioned above, Schlotterbeck was fantastic as well.
- This was Karim Adeyemi’s best game in black and yellow. He came on in the 53rd minute for Salih Özcan and immediately set about making dangerous runs along Bayern’s left side. He should have had an assist to Anthony Modeste if he hadn’t blown an easy tap-in, and he had the hockey assist on Modeste’s winner. He’s looked good in his last few starts; hopefully his production starts increasing as well.
- Yes, Alexander Meyer almost lost the game for BVB. I think any keeper would have had a difficult time stopping Goretzka’s shot because it would have been so hard to pick up before it was too late, but he absolutely should have stopped Sané’s goal. I didn’t expect him to be as good as Kobel, but I would have liked more from him, even as a backup.
- If I were a Bayern fan, I would be fuming at the referee Dennis Aytekin. Early in the first half, he handed a very, very soft yellow card to Jude Bellingham for essentially winning the ball with a slide tackle off Jamal Musiala. Later in the half, Bellingham inadvertently kicked Alphonso Davies in the face while swinging upward at the ball. It really should have been a second yellow card. What I suspect happened is that Aytekin knew that the first yellow card was a soft call, so he gave Bellingham a break and held back on giving him a second. It was kind of a two-wrongs-make-a-right scenario. The result was the same as if both situations had been called correctly, so I ultimately don’t think it was particularly egregious, but I would understand if Bayern fans were annoyed.
- I know this was only a draw, but it still feels like a massive result. BVB have lost approximately five million games against Bayern in a row, so a single point is still an improvement, and to do it in comeback fashion after trailing 2-0 at the half, feels even better. A moment like Modeste’s winner can define a season, and be a springboard for further success. So I don’t want to hear anyone saying “This is only a draw, big clubs don’t celebrate draws, blah blah blah.” It was a great game, and a great comeback. We should be happy.
What did you think of today’s game? Let me know your thoughts.