No side in Germany crave the winter break quite like Borussia Dortmund. That much was evident today as they made the trip to Hoffenheim against a side under Markus Gisdol that have proven themselves as potential slip-ups for Jurgen Klopp's side in the past.
Dortmund lined up with plenty of notable burns, bruises and scars from the current campaign as 18-year-old Marian Sarr partnered with formerly retired Manuel Friedrich in defence whilst Sebastian Kehl picked up his old role as central midfield sweeper at the prime age of 33.
Such limitations in Klopp's squad were only ever going to turn in to an advantage for Hoffenheim, as their quick, skilful front-line—which has scored only one goal less than Dortmund this season—consisting of Roberto Firmino and Kevin Volland mercilessly took to the task of picking on the struggling defence.
As such, the first goal didn't take long to come through the expertise of Sven Schipplock on the 16th minute and then again through Volland just 20 minutes later. This season, Hoffenheim have been trained to do one thing and one thing only: score. And when it came to Dortmund, there were no exceptions. Yet Gisdol's side are just as good at conceding, and through a clanger from Hoffenheim keeper Jens Grahl, Dortmund pulled back via a neat finish from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
The sides went in at half-time with Hoffenheim leading 2-1, a gifted goal the only notable exception for Klopp's side.
The second half was a different beast entirely. After what was undoubtedly a lengthy "chat" with his side during the break, Klopp's team turned on their charm and took the game to their hosts for the remainder of the match.
Yet the equalising goal didn't come until the 67th minute—and only once Klopp had been forced to change things with the introduction of Jonas Hofmann and Henrikh Mkhitaryan at the expense of Aubameyang and Jakub Blaszczykowski.
Both sides then had chances to steal the lead late on in the game, but as they came to terms with the round-for-round blows each had landed through the afternoon, the decision was clearly made to take what they could get with a point each.
For Klopp, this will go down as more points dropped and an ever-larger gap growing between his side and that of the impeccable Bayern Munich. But with a squad ravished with injuries, the ever-optimistic coach will be looking no further than the winter break for some solace. That is when Dortmund can refuel, mend the cuts and bruises and hopefully return next year with a better side than what we've seen so far this season.