What a sport, what a game. The Revierderby exceeded everyone’s wildest expectations as Borussia Dortmund and Schalke produced a remarkable 4-4 draw at the Signal Iduna Park. Four goals in 13 minutes had Dortmund 4-0 up at half time but a mixture of their own capitulation and Schalke’s incredible fightback ensured a match for the ages.
Let’s take a look at the winners and losers from an enthralling contest.
Schalke 04 – Domenico Tedesco’s side came into the contest in second place, three points above their arch-rivals, but trailing 4-0 at half time even the most die hard Royal Blues supporters must have feared the worst. The way Schalke got themselves back in the contest showed tremendous fight, belief and spirit, demonstrating just how well Tedesco has done in his first season in charge.
Domenico Tedesco – The 32-year-old looked like he had made a big mistake leaving Leon Goretzka and Amine Harit on the bench, but 4-0 down after just 25 minutes he was forced into action, bringing on Goretzka and Harit for Weston McKennie and Franco Di Santo. McKennie picked up an early booking and was struggling to deal with the magnitude of the occasion, while Di Santo was anonymous and ineffective, unable to contribute in any meaningful way.
Tedesco had to take the erratic Thilo Kehrer out of the firing line at the break, Matija Nastasic coming on, leaving Tedesco with no more options. Tedesco got his starting XI wrong and could have been severely punished, but he must be given huge credit for his substitutions which kept his side in the game and helped turn the game around.
Amine Harit – Brought on with Goretzka in the 33rd minute at 4-0 down, Harit embraced the challenge, playing an enormous role in the comeback. His driving runs from midfield caused the Dortmund defence major problems, opened space for his colleagues and gave them belief that they could pull off the unthinkable. Harit’s well taken goal got Schalke back into the contest which proved to be a major turning point in the game.
When Harit was carried off the pitch in the 79th minute after a late challenge by Gonzalo Castro it seemed that Dortmund would hang on to an unconvincing victory. Somehow the 20-year-old made a recovery, returned to the pitch and played a vital role in the comeback. If there was any doubt about Harit’s importance for Schalke, this performance should ensure he is one of the first names on Tedesco’s team sheet no matter the occasion.
Peter Bosz – Under huge pressure coming into the derby, Bosz surprised many with a 3-4-3 formation with Raphael Guerreiro and Christian Pulisic playing as wing-backs. Whether it was a way to match Schalke’s formation, a lack of a natural right-back or merely jumping on the three central defender bandwagon, it certainly paid off early as Dortmund went 4-0 up after 25 minutes.
It seemed that if Dortmund could go on with the job and utterly humiliate their closest rivals, Bosz could get himself out of jail and perhaps get his side back to their spectacular early season form. Instead we saw just why Bosz was a bad appointment in the first place and why most of the criticism aimed in his direction was justified. He simply can’t organise a defence and doesn’t have the tactical nous at the very top level of the game, a place where Dortmund deserve to be.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s red card certainly didn’t help matters, but throwing away a 4-0 lead at home against your fiercest rivals in the derby is simply inexcusable. Bosz brought on two defenders to try and steer his side to the finish line, but the momentum had turned to such an extent that it simply didn’t matter. Bosz must certainly be sacked, sooner the better, but the lack of another option might keep him in the job a little longer yet.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – Aubameyang scored Dortmund’s opening goal and provided a lovely assist for Mario Götze who made it 3-0, but two second-half bookings meant the striker saw his marching orders in the 72nd minute. Recently suspended by the club, this was yet another moment of selfish unprofessionalism that played a large role in Dortmund’s eventual surrender.
Thilo Kehrer – It was a miracle that Kehrer made it to half-time. The 21-year-old defender picked up a yellow card in the 22nd minute and could have received a second on two separate occasions. Kehrer certainly should have been sent off for a late challenge on Andriy Yarmolenko just before half-time, but referee Deniz Aytekin appeared to use the mercy rule to prevent Schalke suffering any more punishment.
Tedesco wasn’t taking any chances and used his final substitution to replace Kehrer with Nastasic at the break. Kehrer is a promising talent, but as we saw with McKennie, sometimes young and inexperienced players are just not ready to handle a match of this magnitude. Tedesco admitted after the match that Kehrer was fortunate to escape a red card and it would have been game over if Aytekin produced a deserved second yellow card.
Deniz Aytekin – It’s funny how football often plays out. All the talk of Bosz, Tedesco and undoubtedly a fabulous 4-4 draw, but none of it occurs if referee Aytekin does his job and sends Kehrer off before half-time. Only Aytekin can explain his decision, but at the end of the day few will even remember the huge role he played in what is likely to be the game of the season.
Football constantly amazes, but the changing fortunes of each manager within the space of 45 second-half minutes is really quite remarkable.
By Matthew Marshall.