Amidst one of the most dramatic final Bundesliga match days that I can remember, Borussia Dortmund played their part in the proceedings, helping to rescue VFB Stuttgart’s season and dealing a huge blow to Hertha Berlin with a 2-1 win. Much like the majority of BVB’s season, it was a gaffe-riddled, low event slog of a match, but it managed to get the job done.
A touching pre-match tribute
Today’s match definitely felt like the end of an era for Borussia Dortmund. It was the final day at the club for almost half the players in the starting XI as well as Marcel Schmelzer, Sporting Director Michael Zorc, and numerous other players in the squad. Michael Zorc has been with the club in some capacity since his playing days began in 1981, while Schmelzer has been a club icon since his first appearance in black and yellow in 2008. Both individuals received standing ovations in front of the Gelbe Wand before the match began, and were honored with Tifos.
While it will be sad to see both players go, the match that followed demonstrated why the club is in such desperate need of fresh blood.
The definition of low event football
The stakes for this match were nil for one side, and couldn’t have been higher for the other. Which side was which was glaringly obvious during the first half. Hertha Berlin needed at least a point to guarantee safety, so even though BVB controlled more than 70% of the possession, they were under constant pressure and had real trouble progressing the ball through the middle of the pitch. The result was quite a bit of passing around the back line, with almost nothing going forward.
At the same time, Hertha simply lacked the offensive firepower to break through BVB’s back line, as shoddy as it could be at times. The result was the very definition of low event football:
The two sides, combined, averaged a shot attempt every 7 1⁄2 minutes. The highest-quality chance from open play had an expected goal value of 0.14.
Despite the final result, it was not a pretty game by any means. BVB looked deflated and disinterested in the first half, and only looked invigorated when the youngsters Jamie Bynoe-Gittens and Youssoufa Moukoko were brought onto the pitch. It’s a sure sign that the club is in desperate need of new blood who will reinvigorate the club and bring a fresh mentality to the pitch.
The goings-on elsewhere
The drama involving BVB extended far beyond the confines of the Westfalenstadion this morning. VFB Stuttgart, who needed a win and for Hertha to lose to make it out of the relegation zone, got their win with a dramatic stoppage time winner from Wataru Endo:
In the race for the top four, it briefly looked like SC Freiburg might pull off a miracle and leapfrog RB Leipzig into the final Champions League qualification spot. Freiburg needed to beat Leverkusen, and needed Arminia Bielefeld to beat Leipzig to make it. While it briefly looked like a possibility, with Leipzig losing to Bielefeld and Freiburg scoring an equalizer in the 87th minute, Willi Orban’s equalizer in Bielefeld sealed Freiburg’s fate. To make matters worse for Freiburg, Union Berlin’s win against VFL Bochum condemned them to the Europa Conference League.
A knife to the heart for Hertha
Amidst the aforementioned low-event football, it really looked like Hertha would have a chance to steal a point and stay above Stuttgart. The fans in the away corner of the Westfalenstadion were in full voice all afternoon, boisterously urging their players on. Unfortunately for them, their squad could not get the job done. BVB would ultimately snatch all three points away from Hertha thanks to a beautiful goal from two of Dortmund’s brightest young players. Jude Bellingham played a delicious through ball to Youssoufa Moukoko, who managed to sneak a shot in off the post from an extremely tight angle. It was a great finish that condemned Hertha Berlin to a relegation playoff:
It wasn’t a pretty game by any means, but it was nice to send off Haaland, Zorc, Schmelzer, and the others with a win.
As this is the final match of the season, I’d just like to take the time to thank all of you for reading and commenting along. I love being a part of this community, and I’m consistently humbled by the fact that anyone thinks that anything I have to say is worth reading. I owe a big thanks to Paul, Zac, Sarah, Nick, Harrison, Steve, Mike, and all the other writers that have helped make what was, frankly, a difficult season bearable to cover. I’m not sure how much there will be to write about over the summer, but I hope you all stick around for any postseason and transfer market coverage, and I hope to see you all again next year!