soccer2

Game in a sentence

A pulsating game that resulted in a deserved draw.

Observations

  • While all the media attention was focused on United vs Real Madrid, this match was equally as explosive. Although the odds were stacked in favour of Borussia Dortmund to win this duel, both sides gave each other a few frights along the way.
  • After topping the group of death, BVB have yet to lose a match in the Champions League. The German side were victorious against both Real Madrid and EPL champs Manchester City. It was difficult to conceive that the road could actually get harder for them after landing in the toughest group early in the competition. The team, however, was coming off a disastrous 4-1 loss to Hamburg over the weekend.
  • Juergen Klopp said before the game, “there are no weak opponents in the knockout phase.” He was cautious of Shakhtar’s abilities and added that “there’s likely not a thing Shakhtar can’t do.”
  • Meanwhile, Shakhtar Donetsk also proved they‘re a force to be reckoned with. They beat reigning champs Chelsea and managed a draw against Juventus. There was concern regarding the team’s fitness level since they hadn’t played a competitive game since December given the country’s winter break. But coach Mircea Lucescu reassured everyone the hiatus wouldn’t affect his team’s performance. He was right. His team played with passion and depth.
  • Both teams were hungry to win. These clubs are similar in some respect, playing high-tempo games and capable of speedy transitions.
  • The game, of course, started with a moment of silence for the victims of the plane crash only hours before the game. The flight included many soccer fans heading to the Donetsk fixture.
  • It was a cold night in the Donbass Arena. One could see the cold puffs forming around the players’ mouth. Upon kick-off neither side was afraid to attack. Both teams were competing for domination very early in the game.
  • In the 13th minute, BVB had the first chance of the game when Marco Reus directed a powerful free-kick at net. His chance was easily caught by Andriy Pyatov.
  • At this point, BVB were really starting to turn up the notch and repeatedly pressured the Ukrainian side. The intensity resulted in another lovely opportunity in the 16th minute from a corner, but Mats Hummels header hit the post.
  • Die Schwarzgelben were without their influential midfielder Ilkay Guendogan, who is out with a leg injury. Kevin Grosskreutz and Neven Subotic were also out due to injuries. Subotic was replaced by Felipe Santana in the starting XI.
  • And it was Santana’s mistake that would force them to concede the first goal. The Brazilian committed a careless foul on Luiz Adriano that resulted in captain Darijo Srna netting a free kick. It was a precise strike that escaped Roman Weidenfeller’s finger tips.
  • After the goal, the Ukrainian side started playing with a new level of confidence. But the Bundesliga champs leveled the score in the 41th minute. Mario Goetze crossed the ball from the right flank to Robert Lewandowski. The Polish striker was fortunate enough to get two decent chances from that pass. His first attempt failed, which caused two of his opponents to collide and drop to the ground leaving Lewandowski to do what he does best, which is to score.
  • Right before the end of the first half, Shakhtar nearly made it 2-1 with absolutely poor goalkeeping from Weidenfeller. Luckily, Schmelzer was there to block the shot with what appeared to be his face.
  • Santana to some degree made up for his mistake with an incredible block on Henrikh Mkhitaryan in the opening minutes of the second half.
  • The intensity of the game remained high throughout the game. At times, the impact of Guendogan was missed, especially his creativity and ability to open up the game for the German side. While possession was quite even between both teams, it was starting to shift in BVB’s favour.
  • As usual, possession can be misleading. Douglas Costa, who had only been on the pitch for eight minutes after being substituted on for Taison, made an immediate impact as he drilled the ball in net from a bouncing long ball in the 68th minute. It was as stunning goal. BVB’s poor defending cost them another goal.
  • Dortmund had an excellent chance to tie the game two minutes later. But Lewandowski missed the target on a great slide from Goetze.
  • After only conceding five goals in the group stage, BVB’s defence lacked the strength and security found in previous matches. Shakhtar could have easily increased their lead by two, but there was no one in front of Weidenfeller to take Mkhitaryan’s accurate cross from the right flank.
  • Before the game, Klopp said, “We came here to be an unpleasant opponent.” And boy, did they live up to that. Each time Shakhtar went ahead, die Schwarzgelben were desperately trying to tie the game.
  • Hummels, who initially wasn’t having the best of nights, drove towards the net on a Dortmund corner and hammered the ball in net. Shakhtar’s marking on the set piece was terrible with not a single player paying attention to the German defender.
  • The two attacking forces cancelled each other out with a draw. The game ended 2-2. But it was superb entertainment. Personally, I can’t wait to see these two teams play again in the second leg in the Westfalenstadion, arguably home to the world’s best soccer fans and football atmosphere.
  • Today was also the birthday of Dortmund captain Sebastian Kehl, who turned 33. This is what he said before kick-off, “I will not have many opportunities to win something big, but we want to start doing so tomorrow.”
  • He leaves this game with his hopes and dreams still intact. Dortmund’s European vision is still alive.

Three Stars

Hummels
Costa
Mkhitaryan

Comments (4)

  1. Nice recap. Was really looking forward to this match, but it was on Sportsnet World :/ so I couldn’t watch

  2. Honestly, I’m a bit surprised that you had Hummels as the best player of the game. I felt that aside from the goal he didn’t perform all that well…..

    Oh well, it was still a good result for Dortmund going forward.

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