Talking Points from Borussia Dortmund 4 – 4 Schalke

Talking Points from Borussia Dortmund 4 – 4 Schalke

Just when you think Dortmund have run out of ways to frustrate its fans, it discovered a new and depressing way. In front of a passionate crowd and desperately needing three points against a rival, The Black and Yellow as a club forgot the match is 90 minutes, not 45 minutes, long and walk away with only one point and increased scrutiny on manager and players alike. Fans could be forgiven for turning off the match at halftime assuming the victory was “in the bag”, but a combination of hapless defending, poor managerial decisions and the inability of players to play with any semblance of common sense means Dortmund lost the opportunity to pick up points on table-toppers Bayern Munich.

Here are three of the many, many talking points from this match:

Auba Shows His Ying and His Yang

Thirteen matches into the season, arguably Dortmund’s most consequential players has become its most frustrating. This match showed the Gabon international at his best and at his most careless worst, helping and harming the club simultaneously.

The positives came in the first half. The first goal was a combination of determination and physical skill. The mishit ball by Sahin was bouncing and not the easiest to coral, yet Auba was able to do it while sliding in such a way that it deflected off the keeper and into the net (or off his hand in the net). It was an ugly goal but one that he simply could have pulled up and let the defender try to recover it and make a mistake, or have it go out hopefully off a Schalke player. The third goal also showed his value to the club. Running with his incredible pace down the right, he is able in stride to put in a cross over the defenders and yet right to Mario Gotze on the far post for an easy header. Many players send that pass into the third row; his becomes a third goal.

But then there is the other side that shows that his maturity has to be questioned. Both of his unnecessary yellow cards came in the second half when Dortmund were struggling to hold on the lead. The second was particularly egregious. Not only was he sitting on a yellow when he committed the foul, but he was already beaten by Harit. He simply puts his studs into the Schalke player’s ankle in a way that unquestionably is a yellow card, even for a referee that had shown some leniency to that point. It was reckless, dumb, and cost a team who had trouble maintaining composure at that point and then had to do so down a man.

Whether it is because his move elsewhere was blocked or something else, the relationship between Dortmund’s management and Aubameyang looks to be a major issue moving forward.

Bosz Again Under Fire as Counterpart Shows How Good Managers Manage

It seems like every week Peter Bosz is a talking point after a match, and some of that is the result of the club being in a slide and the manager receiving blame for everything going wrong. However, this weekend Bosz did little to help his continued employment with the club as he continued to make questionable tactical decisions during a match his team should have won. Contrast that with his Schalke counterpart, whose decisions seemed to have paid off in the second half (a statement that will be examined further later this week).

Credit to Bosz for finally trying something different with his tactics. The 3-4-3 paid off in the first half; the experienced Dortmund midfield distributed the ball well and Schalke’s midfielders were constantly on the back foot. Having Pulisic behind Yarmolenko allowed the Ukrainian to float inside and provide another scoring threat while the American could contribute to offence and defence. On the left, Guerreiro could do the same while Gotze looked like the #10 he is supposed to be.

The problem was Bosz failed to adjust his tactics at halftime, an odd thing to say when his side had a four-goal advantage. Bosz wanted to be aggressive and failed to tweak to hold his advantage. Dortmund needed those three points, so a midfield adjustment which would allow the home side to hold the ball and suffocate the match was needed. Instead, Bosz stuck with the same 11. Then Schalke scored, and Bosz struck with the same 11. Then Harit scored to make the match 4-2 and the momentum was entirely with the visitors. So the Dortmund manager took off Yarmolenko, who could help with hold-up play and brought on a defender. Then after Auba was sent off he kept throwing out defenders hoping to hold off the coming tide, rather than trying to simply hold the ball for lengths of time. The last attacker left on the pitch was Pulisic, who had missed time recently with a hamstring injury.

On Sunday, Dortmund management said that Bosz’s position was safe. It is hard to believe it will be for much longer.

A Ruhr Derby with an American Flavour

In a talking point that is primarily of interest on one side of the Atlantic, U.S. national teammates Christian Pulisic and Weston McKennie started this match. It was an interesting moment as both are 19 but came through different paths to earn their way to the Bundesliga. The two are close friends off the pitch, however, living about thirty minutes from each other and even spending the American Thanksgiving holiday together.

The contrast between their careers can be shown in this match. For the Schalke man, he was one of the two players subbed off in the 32nd minute for being totally ineffectual and picking up an early yellow. Despite his immense talent he still needs to learn the league a little more before being written in pen into the starting XI. That is a phase Pulisic has weathered in Dortmund and in fact earned his fiftieth league appearance in Saturday’s match, becoming the youngest non-German to reach that mark. If they remain in their current clubs, they will add a little New World flavour to an Old World rivalry.