In what turned out to be a drab and cagey affair, ten-man SC Freiburg held league leaders Borussia Dortmund to a 0-0 draw. The match which marked the return of former Freiburg player Maximilian Philipp, was a very disappointing occasion for Dortmund as both Marc Bartra and Marcel Schmelzer were injured in the first half itself.
Despite the fact that Dortmund were forced into making changes, they dominated 80% of the possession, especially after Yoric Ravet was sent off in the 27th minute for a nasty tackle on Dortmund captain Marcel Schmelzer, a decision made with help from the newly introduced VAR to upgrade the initially awarded yellow card.
Prior to the red card, Dortmund were too eager to attack and their defensive fragility almost cost them as a lightning pace counter-attack by Freiburg nearly resulted in a goal, only for Tim Kleindienst to shoot it straight at a relieved Roman Burki in the Dortmund goal.
Although Dortmund were still dominating possession before the sending off, the hosts were able to force Die Schwarzgelben into playing a narrow game, preventing them to push forward through the flanks. The sending off made Freiburg become even more compact and determined to stick to their game plan and in the end, it worked like a charm.
Dortmund failed to create any clear-cut chances and resorted to a lot of long range shots, especially by defensive leader Sokratis, who seemed like he was ordered to shoot every time he had was 30 yards within Freiburg’s goal. The Yellow-Blacks clearly lacked a cutting edge in their plan and also began hoofing the ball forward in the hope that the solid Freiburg defense would let through just the once.
Alexander Schwolow was definitely the busier keeper but he did not have a lot of threatening shots to deal with for most of the game. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was barely afforded any kind of space, and was anonymous for most of the game, but he would feel hard done by after he scored a legitimate goal, only for the referee to give a free kick to Dortmund for a foul committed on Sokratis, moments before.
Midfield stalwarts Nuri Sahin and Gonzalo Castro also looked out of depth and were unable to create anything for the forwards to capitalize on. Mario Gotze continued to do well in the midfield as he was the only creative hub for the team, bringing life to an otherwise very mediocre midfield. The game also saw the debut of new signing, Ukrainian international Andriy Yarmolenko, who came on as a substitute for the last 10 minutes of the game.
Overall, the match showed that Petez Bosz’s tactics are getting predictable and the lack of a Plan B was very clear, as Freiburg executed their game plan to the T and managed to hold off an otherwise rampant Dortmund side. The injuries to Marc Bartra and Marcel Schmelzer come at a very bad juncture with UEFA Champions League matches all set to begin this week. Dortmund will be forced to make changes, so it’ll be interesting to see how the team move forward after a disappointing performance against a team who managed to get a point against Dortmund in the last thirteen times these teams have met.