Three things we learned as Borussia Dortmund throw away the Bundesliga title against Mainz

Borussia Dortmund throw away the Bundesliga title with a 2-2 draw at home to Mainz. With the Westfalenstadion in full voice prior to kick-off, the stage was set for Borussia Dortmund to be crowned Bundesliga champions. However, 10 minutes of madness would put the 2022/23 Bundesliga title race on an unmatched pedestal for the drama that would unfold. 

Andreas Hanche-Olsen would head home from a corner after 15 minutes to derail Dortmund’s title hopes. However, a penalty would be given to BVB just five minutes later after a VAR review. Sébastian Haller’s subsequent strike would be saved before Karim Onisiwo added to Edin Terzić’s nightmare. A 2-0 lead at half-time for Mainz shocked the world.

Raphaël Guerreiro would find a route back into the game for Dortmund, but they could not capitalise. Chances would come and chances would go. But the Meisterschale ultimately slipped away from their grasp once again. A late Niklas Süle goal to level the game would not be enough. Heartache on this level can only be compared to that of their Reveriderby rivals in 2001, as Schalke lost the title in the final minutes of the season. A difficult summer for Dortmund is inbound, but how they react to their heartbreak next season will be fascinating.

Borussia Dortmund crumble once again

After 11 long years, Borussia Dortmund had the ultimate opportunity to break Bayern Munich’s hold on the Bundesliga. At times it has felt like an unwritten rule, that come the end of May, it must be Die Rekordmeister standing tall with Borussia Dortmund left in their shadow. However, after what has been a truly remarkable season, it seems as though that rule is not unwritten, but in fact, highlighted in bold in the Bundesliga textbook.

In years past, Die Schwarzgelben would have come into this game, with the implications surrounding it, and been written off as underdogs. However, this year seemed to be different. After a commanding and controlled performance against Augsburg on matchday 33, Dortmund looked like a transformed team. One that had proved that their days of searching for excuses were long gone and finally, Terzić’s side looked to be the real deal. However, goals from Hanche-Olsen and Onisiwo would reinvoke the tension that the Westfalenstadion has become all too accustomed to. 

The early Mainz goals had quickly turned the party atmosphere, which was contagious before kick-off, to an atmosphere of sheer panic and concern. The Dortmund of old had returned and even when they would be given a penalty while 1-0 down, Haller’s shot would be saved. Another penalty could have followed and questions were asked. As quickly as excuses had seemed to be gone, they had unnecessarily returned. Ultimately, Dortmund failed to defend the Mainz counter-attack and the end result was quite symbolic for a side that on too many occasions have come close to dethroning Bayern, but have not had the courage to get over the line.

A platform for Mainz to prosper from

It looked to be an underwhelming end to what has been a phenomenal season for Bo Svensson and Mainz. They came into this clash at the Westfalenstadion on the back of four consecutive defeats and consequently ushered themselves out of a potential spot in Europe. However, in typical Mainz fashion, they turned on the style when they had been written off.

On matchday 17, Mainz found themselves just four points away from relegation, with a real potential to sleepwalk into the dreaded relegation battle. However, an inspired January transfer window would turn their season around. The signing of Ludovic Ajorque transformed Mainz into a side that could battle for European football. His first appearance came in the reverse fixture of this game and his abilities were on show from the start. 

His fine finishing and overall play had profoundly changed the fortunes of this side. He has allowed players like Onisiwo and Lee Jae-Sung to flourish into the dangerous attacking players that the league, and Dortmund, would soon find them to be. A 3-1 home win against Bayern Munich on matchday 29 propelled Mainz to second in the Rückrunde form table. While it gave Borussia Dortmund an advantage in the race for the Meisterschale, it gave spectators an insight into how far this Mainz side had come. While he could not feature in today’s game, the way he has been able to improve the confidence of those around him was on display. An inspired Mainz performance has shown what kind of impact they can have on the Bundesliga next season.

A result that could have prolonged damaging effects

Regardless of the result at the Westfalenstadion, this was always going to be a historic day in German football history. Had Dortmund followed through with what seemed like a formality and become champions of Germany for the first time since 2012, then they could have established themselves as a club worthy of going toe to toe with Bayern in the transfer market and in the league. This could have been a game that allowed Die Schwarzgelben to take a step up to the elite.

However, a draw has left them in the shadow of Bayern Munich once again. The questions surrounding the mentality at the club will undoubtedly resurface. This was the chance for Dortmund to change their fate and their destiny. Nevertheless, without their influential leader in the middle of the park – Jude Bellingham – the quality within the side was evidently not enough to fulfil their expectations. A performance that lacked courage and professionalism in a game where it was the only requirement left them without their league title.

To make matters worse, the absence of Bellingham could continue to plague BVB. The England international’s departure from the club has been highly reported throughout the last week and this result will only act as a catalyst for his exit. Bellingham is a world-class player and as this performance proved, Borussia Dortmund are not a world-class side. Dortmund could use this heartbreak to inspire them for the following campaign. It is a feeling that not a single player will be willing to feel again. However, this could be a damaging result for the future of Borussia Dortmund.

GGFN | Will Shopland

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