In what has been a potentially decisive weekend in the Bundesliga title race, Borussia Dortmund move two points clear of Bayern Munich with a 3-0 win away at Augsburg. A frustrating first half for the visitors saw both sides go in goalless at the break. However, a red card for Felix Uduokhai gave Dortmund the belief that they could break the deadlock in the second half.
It would take almost an hour, but Dortmund would find a way through a relentless Augsburg side. BVB’s in-form man, Donyell Malen, played a low ball into the Augsburg box, that with the help of a generous ricochet, found its way to Sébastien Haller. His phenomenal finish on a tight angle calmed the nerves that may have been beginning to develop.
However, there were no need for nerves. In the 84th minute, Marco Reus would jink inside the box, but see his shot saved. The ball would fall kindly for Haller once again, who was happy to double Dortmund’s lead. With the away end celebrating a return to the top of the table, Julian Brandt would put the icing on the cake with just seconds reaming. A 3-0 win for Edin Terzić means that the title is in Dortmund’s hands.
No Jude Bellingham, no problem
When the news broke that Jude Bellingham would be out of the Borussia Dortmund squad due to a knee injury, heads began to turn towards the rest of the Dortmund squad. This was not an opportunity for players to step up, but an obligation. The English midfielder has been the pivotal part of Dortmund’s title push. When BVB found themselves in a difficult situation, Bellingham seemed to be the player to find an answer. At the age of 19, he has led Terzić’s side with the aura of a seasoned veteran.
However, without him, Dortmund seemed to keep themselves in control of a game that could have easily slipped away from them. The presence of Emre Can in midfield ensured that Julian Brandt and Raphaël Guerreiro could implicate their creative abilities on the game. However, it was Can, who has been utilised in a variety of positions by Terzić so far this campaign, who proved why he has been his manager’s right-hand man this season.
With a 95% pass accuracy, Can remained a composed figure in the Dortmund midfield while simultaneously being the figure of Augsburg’s attacking frustrations. He was able to prevent countless Augsburg counter-attacks in a performance that will earn him the respect of all those associated with the Black and Yellows. This is not to forget the contribution of Haller. A remarkable story in what could prove to be a remarkable season for Die Schwarzgelben. Leading the line with decisive finishing and phenomenal positioning. The whole Dortmund side stepped up today but Can and Haller have shown the characteristics of champions.
Where do Augsburg go from here?
It has been an interesting season for Augsburg and head coach Enrico Maaßen, if not underwhelming. While Maaßen’s side have been able to keep themselves above the relegation places over the course of the season, there has never really been a feeling of assurance sweeping through the air at the WWK Arena. Now, heading into the final matchday of the season, there is a chance that Augsburg slip into danger.
Usually, a trip to Augsburg is the dreaded game on the Bundesliga calendar for most sides. It is quite often the place where managers look back at the end of the season and acknowledge that their fortunes changed after a difficult game in Augsburg. While Dortmund did have to wait 60 minutes to break the deadlock, the outcome was never really in doubt.
Despite a victory against Bayern in September, Augsburg have struggled at home when it has mattered. Points have been dropped to relegation rivals that could leap past Augsburg on the final matchday. However, this is Maaßen’s first full season in charge and teething issues are bound to occur. There have been bright sparks, and survival is still well within their hands. The arrival of Mergim Berisha and the emergence of Dion Beljo will offer hope for next season. However, as for who comes and goes through the door next season will be important for a side that have lost their edge towards the back end of the season.
Dortmund have one hand on the Meisterschale
After Bayern Munich collapsed at home to RB Leipzig in the Topspiel on Saturday evening, Dortmund knew a win would see them leapfrog the record champions into top spot. However, visiting the Bavarian city had not always been a happy hunting ground for Dortmund. BVB had only tasted victory once in Augsburg since 2017, sparking questions surrounding the stature of their mentality ahead of their crucial game.
Nevertheless, this Dortmund side proved, that despite recent mishaps away from home, they had overcome their adversity and they will not let this Bundesliga title slip away. From the first minute, the Black and Yellows took the game to Augsburg with early chances going begging for Terzić’s side. It had almost symbolised a typical Dortmund performance from this season, or of seasons past. When it mattered, they could not get the job done.
This was, however, nothing more than a tease for those suffering Bayern fans spectating the moment their club lost its grip on the league title. This could be a moment that is looked back upon for years to come. It could be the turning point in establishing Dortmund as the destination, not just a stepping stone to Bayern or the rest of Europe. Dortmund proved their worth, and this could be a significant moment in German football, and the history of Borussia Dortmund.
GGFN | Will Shopland