Coming into MD9 Dortmund were without a win in three games, their last win being a 3-0 defeat of Leverkusen on MD5. They followed that up with two draws against Hoffenheim and Darmstadt, and then of course the 5-1 humiliation at Bayern. MD9 served up a game almost as special as that one, with it being Thomas Tuchel’s first return to Mainz as an opposition coach. His homecoming of sorts was a success as far as Dortmund were concerned, they got back to winning ways with a 2-0 defeat of Mainz. Nothing showy, just an effective and efficient win and I’m happy to say Roman Bürki played better than he did against Bayern. He had better luck then Weidenfeller did anyway. Last season Dortmund played Mainz on a Friday evening too, eventually the game ended 4-2 in Dortmund’s favour. But not before Dortmund went 1-0 down courtesy of a very humiliating goal which involved Weidenfeller almost falling into one of his own defenders and the ball then being put in the net by a very alert Elkin Soto who made good use of the keeper being way off his line.
Thankfully no such curse befell Bürki and he made a strong start to the game, making a good save against Muto just five minutes in:
He wasn’t particularly busy throughout the first half but then neither was his opposite number Karius. Though it turned out not to matter because you only need to slip up once against Dortmund and they make you pay. Which is exactly what happened in the 17th minute. One misplaced pass intercepted by Mkhitaryan, two moves later and goal, Marco Reus slotting it home past Karius for his third of the season. The first half provided a few chances for both teams but nothing clear cut, the number of attempts on goal was far outweighed by the number of tackles.It was a closely contested affair to say the least, Sokratis in particular being his usual imposing self in defence for Dortmund. Matthias Ginter made a few important decisions too, in particular this clearance. Bürki probably would have got there anyway but why take that chance:
Marco Reus got an opportunity just inside the box to make it 1-o before the end of the first half but he failed to capitalize on the chance, the lay off from Aubameyang was decent but Reus’ initial pass could have been better. As could much of the passing in the final third throughout the first half. Dortmund went into the half time break with a hard earned 1-0 lead, but they didn’t deserve to be 2-0 up. They were handed an opportunity right at the start of the second half to make it 2-0 when Nico Bungert was judged to have brought Aubameyang down. It’s a penalty which should never have been given, not only did Bungert play the ball but the initial contact was outside the box. It’s perhaps karma then that the penalty was saved by Karius, according to the commentator he’s saved his last four penalties, so maybe more than just karma there.
After that the second half continued in a similar vein to the first with there being few real chances for both side. One such chance for Mainz when Muto found space between Park and Hummels was however effectively dealt with by Bürki:
Dortmund got the chance to double their lead in the 61st minute after a well placed pass from Ginter to Kagawa but Karius seemingly did enough to put him off and his effort went wide. They had a few more chances in the following ten minutes but most of them off target. Aubameyang however had a good chance in the 76th minute but was unable to take it, Bungert doing just enough to put him off. They finally made it 2-0 in the 82nd minute, Aubameyang setting up Mkhitaryan. The goal was nice enough but it’s not that I care about, what I care about is the reaction from Thomas Tuchel. Sokratis went over to celebrate with him, hugging him. What’s funny is he was trying to get away and Thomas Tuchel wouldn’t let go. It was such a great moment that pictures alone wouldn’t suffice, so I made a GIF too:
Random Freiburg related fact I have to mention, Florian Niederlechener made a substitute appearance for Mainz in this game, coming on in the 83rd minute for Muto. It’s funny, the future Freiburger (temporary of course – he’s only on loan) against former Freiburger’s Matze Ginter and Roman Bürki.
Elsewhere in the Bundesliga Bayern followed up their demolition of Dortmund with a surprising 1-0 win over Bremen, not surprising they won, just the scoreline. Holding Bayern to just the one goal is an impressive feat, though it makes no difference of course. Whilst beating Bayern would probably be expecting too much Bremen could certainly have done with the points. They could at least be grateful that both Augsburg and Hoffenheim lost.