Borussia Dortmund vs. Borussia Monchengladbach: 6 Things We Learned
Borussia Monchengladbach snapped a nine-game winless streak with a 2-1 win over Borussia Dortmund on Saturday, stunning the hosts with their second head-to-head victory of the season.
It was an improbable victory for Lucien Favre's side, but the visitors were clinically efficient and took a two-goal lead into the half-time break thanks to strikes by Raffael and Max Kruse. Havard Nordtveit was sent off in the second half, but BVB could only conjure a consolation goal through substitute Milos Jojic.
The match was highly entertaining and brought with it some notable talking points. Click on for a recap of the take-home messages of Saturday's action.
Dortmund Will Be Weary When They Face Zenit
Saturday's match was bad news for Dortmund not only in the result, but in the way the result came about. And as they prepare for the second leg of their Champions League clash with Zenit this Wednesday, there is some cause for concern.
First, they have to worry about the condition of Lukasz Piszczek, who left the match early and went into the tunnel holding his hip. The same area caused him trouble, resulting in surgery last summer. The exact severity of his injury remains unknown.
Second, Dortmund's players may not be that fresh when they take on Zenit just three days from now. BVB were pushed to the limit on Saturday and covered an incredible 126.26 km, according to the official Bundesliga live ticker. Excluding goalkeeper Roman Weidenfeller's contribution, that amounts to 10.97 km per outfield position.
Jonas Hofmann put in 13.87 km, while Kevin Grosskreutz clocked 12.86 km. Nuri Sahin and Marcel Schmelzer both broke the 12-km barrier. If Piszczek is unfit to play on Tuesday, three of the above (Hofmann being the exception) will certainly start. And they will all have weary legs.
It would take a complete collapse for Dortmund to be knocked out by Zenit after winning the first leg 4-2, but stranger things have happened to BVB this season.
Hofmann-as-a-10 Experiment Fails
Jonas Hofmann was given his first-ever Bundesliga start on Saturday in an unfamiliar, central playmaker's role. With Henrikh Mkhitaryan suspended and Marco Reus and Ilkay Gundogan injured, Jurgen Klopp was left with little choice but to field the 21-year-old winger in the hole behind Robert Lewandowski.
Hofmann struggled to make an impression. His touch and the weight of his passes each let him down on multiple occasions.
Midway through the first half, Klopp changed his tactical system to use Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang more centrally, with Hofmann in an inside-right position. The resulting lack of any support for Lukasz Piszczek on Dortmund's defending right flank played a big part in Max Kruse's goal that put Gladbach 2-0 ahead.
Dortmund Have Become Targets for Desperate Teams
Three weeks ago, Dortmund suffered a 3-0 loss to relegation-battlers Hamburg. The northern side at the time was in crisis, with Mirko Slomka having taken the helm only days prior to the fixture. HSV had lost seven consecutive matches prior to that fixture yet picked BVB apart.
Saturday's match with Gladbach was similar for BVB. The visitors had gone nine matches without a win, tumbling from a position as contenders for a Champions League spot to mid-table. But Gladbach were extra-sharp on Saturday; they gave everything and came out victorious.
It was a great boost for BMG's morale, but Klopp will be wondering why struggling teams always find their best form in months against his side.
Favre Has Klopp's Number
In October, Gladbach became the first team to beat Dortmund in the 2013-14 season and just the second team to take points from the Ruhr side. Although they struggled and were pressed back for long periods of time, Lucien Favre's men remained patient and took advantage when the opportunity arose, scoring twice in the final minutes and stunning BVB with a 2-0 win.
On Saturday, Gladbach won in a different manner, with their goals coming much earlier and after Dortmund had dominated. But there were some similarities too. Marc-Andre ter Stegen denied Mats Hummels in a one-on-one situation, and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang hit the bar with the score still 0-0.
Gladbach remained unfazed, though, and Raffael took BMG's first opportunity to make the score 1-0. Nine minutes later, Max Kruse put the result beyond Dortmund's reach.
Especially after Havard Nordtveit's dismissal, Gladbach were brilliant in defense, frustrating BVB time and time again with their intensity. It was improbable, but Favre managed to outfox Klopp twice this season.
Klopp Should Consider Using Jojic More Often
Milos Jojic may have only moved to Germany at the end of January, but despite having had little time to learn Klopp's system, his productivity has been outstanding. The 21-year-old scored with his first touch as a BVB player last month and found the net again shortly after coming on as a substitute against Gladbach.
At the time of his goal on Saturday, he had scored twice in just 43 minutes played in the Bundesliga. That rate will surely decrease over time, but he clearly has a knack for hitting the target.
After all, the same man also scored in a five-minute outing in his international debut for Serbia. As hesitant as Klopp has been to use him, the newcomer has earned more consideration.
Forget the Errors: Ter Stegen Is Well on His Way to Becoming a Hero
Although Raffael, Max Kruse and Patrick Herrmann each had their moments, the man of the match for Gladbach was Marc-Andre ter Stegen. The 21-year-old had come under criticism recently for a clumsy error that led to a needlessly conceded goal against Braunschweig, which led some to wonder whether he was ready for a big club like Barcelona.
But he showed on Saturday why he truly is one of the best goalkeeping prospects in the world. His poise and command in the box were unrelenting, and when called into action, he produced spectacular results. Most notably, his instantaneous reaction to deny Robert Lewandowski's goal-bound effort made the difference between Gladbach's win and a disappointing draw.
It's easy to forget that Ter Stegen is still only 21 and has yet to play for an elite club with a reliable defense. At the same age, Manuel Neuer was still a Germany under-21 international, playing nervously behind a shaky Schalke defense.
Not much separates Ter Stegen now from Neuer at the same age. The Gladbach man still has some work to do before being one of the world's elite goalkeepers, but he's on his way.