The first half of the Bundesliga season came to end with a 2-1 loss in Dortmund on Friday night. Christoph Kramer’s close-range finish wasn’t enough for a point for the Foals.
There was naturally a lot of hype in the build-up as second-placed Gladbach travelled to the league leaders, but the football didn’t match that anticipation in terms of intensity at a sold-out Signal Iduna Park. Both teams looked to feel their way into the game, wary to give away chances. The only dangerous moment in the first 40 minutes saw Marco Reus break through one-on-one with Yann Sommer, but our Swiss stopper pulled off a magnificent save to his left. The action then finally arrived in the final moments of the first half. A quick counter from BVB saw the ball worked across the box to Jadon Sancho, and the Englishman fired in off the post from a tight angle to open the scoring. The Foals responded just minutes later though. Denis Zakaria’s cross was mis-headed by Christoph Kramer, but the ball landed at his feet and he reacted quickly to level the game.
Parity didn’t last long after the break, however. Sancho burst away on a counter and played the ball to Mario Götze, whose flat cross was turned in at the far post by Reus to hand Dortmund the lead once more in the 54th minute. The Foals struggled to get going again, constantly met by a Yellow Wall on the pitch, although some sloppy passing and heavy touches didn’t help their cause. The hosts came closest to scoring the next goal when Reus thundered a free-kick off the post, while substitute Ibrahima Traoré’s ambitious shot on the stretch could only find the side netting at the other end. BVB were ultimately able to see out their lead fairly comfortably, extending their cushion at the top to nine points over the Foals, who will still spend Christmas in second should Bayern lose on Saturday.
Dieter Hecking made two changes to the side that started Tuesday’s win over Nürnberg. Ibrahima Traoré was replaced on the right flank by Patrick Herrmann, while the injury to Nico Elvedi meant Tobias Strobl dropped into defence, making room for Christoph Kramer to return to the side in holding midfield. Otherwise it was Yann Sommer in goal as usual, Fabian Johnson, Jordan Beyer, Strobl and Oscar Wendt in defence, Kramer was joined in midfield by Denis Zakaria and Florian Neuhaus, with Thorgan Hazard and Herrmann either side of Alassane Plea.
Matthias Ginter (facial fracture), Raffael (collarbone), Lars Stindl (ankle), Nico Elvedi (head wound), Mamadou Doucouré (thigh) and Julio Villalba (ankle) all missed out on the matchday squad through injury.