Mats Hummels (right) with the save of the game
Christopher Neundorf / EPO
The Second Man: At the beginning of March, Patrik Schick suffered a serious injury, having only played one Bundesliga minute this season after a long period of suffering. Against Dortmund, he came late when his team needed him. And the Czech was there immediately. A few seconds after coming on as a substitute, he deliberately put a through ball from Odilon Kossounou into the middle instead of finishing himself. Attacking partner Victor Boniface stood there and pushed the ball over the line for the overdue equaliser.
Result: Bayer Leverkusen and Borussia Dortmund drew 13-1 (1-0) in the top game of Matchday 1. Click here for the match report.
First half: In the 5th minute, Bayer fell behind for the first time this season in a home game. Niclas Füllkrug shielded the ball with his back to goal and waited for the right moment to lay it off. It was there when Julian Ryerson started into the penalty area. The full-back received the ball perfectly on the run and beat Bayer goalkeeper Lukáš Hrádecký from a few yards. After that, BVB retreated far back and sometimes defended with ten players in their own penalty area. Bayer had only one promising recipe for success in the game, which was reminiscent of a handball game: Jeremie Frimpong, one of six (!) Leverkusen, who have already made their international team debut this season, made several strong runs down the right and created danger with his crosses from the baseline. However, a hit did not come out of it.
Thrilling Non-Goal: Florian Wirtz stormed towards the corner flag with his eyes wide open, his teammates slid jubilantly towards the celebrating fans. Wirtz had just sensationally blasted a cross from Frimpong into the back of the BVB defence under the crossbar, the ball had bounced to the ground and then under the net. A technical gem. But a wafer-thin offside position forced referee Daniel Siebert to deny recognition to this wonderful goal (45'+1'). "Damn technology," not only Bayer fans will have thought at that moment.
Second half: In the first half, Bayer defender Kossounou was often in the opponent's penalty area, but in the 51st minute he had to play in his core area of competence. Jamie Bynoe-Gittens moved at high speed towards the Bayer goal until Koussounou prevented him from finishing with strong tackling (51'). Otherwise, only the league leader played again. Bayer won corner after corner, tried one-two passes and chip balls. However, the Dortmund bulwark held up because all BVB players passionately contributed to the defensive account. But Bayer took advantage of the proliferation of chances that is so popular in football German: Argentine World Cup winner Exequiel Palacios was blocked in the best position seven metres ahead of BVB goalkeeper Gregor Kobel when Mats Hummels finished (62'). Only Boniface redeemed Bayer (79th), who recorded 16:1 corners and 23:6 shots on goal.
Tight, tighter, BVB: Not pretty, but successful. All the men in the penalty area and up front help the good Lord or Füllkrug. That's how you can classify the new six-man-on-a-defensive line pragmatism in Dortmund's game. In recent years, Union Berlin has been the epitome of an unsightly but high-scoring style of play. BVB goalscorer Ryerson knows this from his time with the Köpenickers. The new Union Berlin wears black and yellow. However, with a much more cost-intensive squad. BVB won't care – for the time being – instead of being 13 points behind, BVB holds the ten-point difference to Xabi Alonso's team.
Mats Hummels, Grätschengott: Mats Hummels will be 35 years old in two weeks. The Dortmund centre-back has been able to read many a swan song for himself in recent years, and after this game hymns of praise for the re-national player are likely to be heard. In the first hour, he had already prevented Leverkusen from scoring with two outstanding tackles, and in the 62nd minute he made his masterpiece: he blocked Palacios' shot with a world-class action, and in the election for "Slide of the Month" he would have been assured of the medal after this action. When he conceded, he also had no chance. To save Dortmund's honour: At this point, third-division defender Antonios Papadopoulos was on the pitch next to Hummels due to a serious shortage of personnel.
Granite Xhaka, Pack Formation God: The Swiss Granit Xhaka is a professional who is generally assumed to be washed with all the so-called waters. Shortly before the end of the game, the 120-time international provided an example of his ability when the ball is at rest. As part of a pack formation, he managed the actually impossible thing to physically remove a teammate from the center of the discussion at the same time and at the same time go into aggressive talk with a Dortmund counterpart. To top it all off, he did not receive a yellow card. Only the big ones can do that.
What VAR? In the 60th minute, Emre Can brought down his opponent on the edge of the penalty area. Palacios remained lying down to suggest to referee Siebert the urgency of a review. In the background, there was a check, the presumed decision seemed to be predetermined due to the clear foul play: penalty kick. But the video referee didn't give any signal, and the game continued without a penalty. Since Karim Adeyemi was also denied a penalty shortly afterwards despite a double contact in the Leverkusen penalty area, the VAR intervention at least remained without result in the top game. Two more entries in the class book of oddities that the video referee delivers week after week.