When stadium announcer Norbert Dickel uttered the words “There has been a late change” as he read out the team line-up, a murmur went through the crowd. Many wondered whether the winning streak would end in the absence of Gregor Kobel, who has been outstanding in recent weeks.
96 minutes later, they had their answer: no! On his 09th competitive appearance for Borussia Dortmund, Alexander Meyer kept out four major chances for the opposition – the last of which came in the fifth minute of stoppage time – and played a decisive role in making it 10 wins from 10 games in 2023. The 31-year-old only found out he would be playing five minutes before kick-off – and once again completely fulfilled his coach’s expectations. “Alex has frequently shown that we can count on him,” declared Edin Terzic, adding: “He was very calm and made a few really good saves towards the end.”
“It was rather turbulent for me,” said Meyer of the final minutes before kick-off in this crunch clash. “After the last action of the warm-up, Greg went in. He signalled to me in the changing room that he couldn’t play and wished me all the best. For me, it was a jump into the deep end. The team performed superbly and defended very passionately.” Kobel had indicated he was suffering from muscular problems. Together with the medical department, the decision was taken “that we would not risk it today and wanted to have a precise diagnosis first,” explained Terzic.
“We had a good goalkeeper and good individual actions, the way we defended our goal and everyone fought was outstanding,” said sporting director Sebastian Kehl in praise of the keeper and his team-mates: “The desire, passion and commitment were outstanding again. We won against a top opponent. Leipzig showed that they’re a good team.”
In the first half, Borussia managed to find ways to beat the intensive pressing from the opposition. The centre was bypassed, the long balls into the channels were razor-sharp. BVB scored three goals in that first period, though Julian Brandt’s goal was not allowed to stand because the ball had grazed his lower arm directly before he struck the ball into the net. Even though the visitors looked slightly dominant in the first period, the Black & Yellows were significantly more dangerous. They did then lose their control over the opposition and the match after the break, but could have made it 3-0 through Marco Reus. Leipzig’s goalkeeper made a strong save to keep the game alive as a contest.
“We ran six kilometres more than Leipzig. I think the lads battled brutally,” said Kehl. “You only achieve success through hard work,” added Reus, while Terzic stated: “When we make a mistake, another player needs to be there to iron it out.” That all worked perfectly against Leipzig on Friday. The phenomenal support also played a part in the fortuitous victory. The 10th in a row. An 11th on Tuesday evening would definitely carry the Black & Yellows into the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals and equal the club record in the process…