Borussia Dortmund entered yesterday’s Champions League match needing a victory to have a chance at advancing from their group despite underachieving to this point. Instead, the same mistakes and bad habits that have sent the club into what looks like a spiral struck again, as despite dominating play the Black-and-Yellow could only manage a draw against visiting APOEL. As a result, those chances of advancing now nearly completely depend on the current title holders sliding even worse than Dortmund.
Peter Bosz sat Andriy Yarmolenko for this match while Omer Toprak and Raphael Guerreiro started in the back four. Weigl, Kagawa, and Gote composed the three-man midfield. The changes looked positive from the start as the home side dominated possession and the stat sheet from the first whistle. Dortmund’s first shot came in the sixth minute when Gotze had space and took a shot from the edge of the box that APOEL keeper Perez saved. A few minutes later, a cross found Shinki Kagawa poorly marked but his header went above the bar. Four minutes after, a corner into the box bounced around and looked to be heading for the net, but was barely cleared by the defence before Christian Pulisic could score.
Despite pressure and multiple attempts, it would not be until the 29th minute that Dortmund finally broke through. A Kagawa flick found Guerreiro running behind the defence and the fullback did not miss. At that moment it felt like Dortmund had finally broken the pressure and would take hold of the match for good. Max Philipp tried to set up both Kagawa and Aubameyang for chances but APOEL’s defence held. At halftime, the home side had registered eleven shots to none for the visitors, and they enjoyed 72% of possession. Despite all this, only scoring once would haunt Dortmund in the second half.
Minutes into the second half, APOEL enjoyed momentary possession on the counter. The ball found its way to Pote who had the right angle to score around Burki and even the scoreline. The game settled into a pattern of Dortmund possession with player probing for space and opportunities but when either as found, the opportunity was wasted. Kagawa again had an excellent opportunity to score a second in the 55th minute, but his shot dragged just wide of the goal. As time ticked away, Bosz sent on Yarmolenko and Marcel Schmelzer to offer something different.
Twice towards the end of the second half Christian Pulisic found space for a precise cross in the middle but twice Aubameyang missed the opportunity. The first chance in the 77th minute hit off the bar while the second a few minutes later was badly mishit and harmlessly went wide. For a last change, Bosz sent on Andre Schurrle but his luck was no better than his teammates. When the final whistle blew, a dejected Dortmund side halfheartedly went to applaud fans who were well on their way out of the stadium while their opponents celebrated an improbable point.
Rather than provide a little relief, the pressure builds on Peter Bosz’s men and, depending on your outlook, they have a golden opportunity to respond or their luck will have a hard time turning anytime soon.