Borussia Dortmund missed out on a ninth Bundesliga victory in succession and had to settle for only one point away to FC Schalke 04, who cancelled out two goals from Schlotterbeck and Guerreiro to claim a 2-2 (1-0) draw in the 160th Ruhr derby.
Boris Rupert reporting
The 61,571 spectators at a sold-out Veltins-Arena in Gelsenkirchen saw a clever first-half display from BVB, who took a deserved lead through Schlotterbeck’s effort from range in the 38th minute and should have held a bigger lead at the interval. Bülter restored parity at 1-1 five minutes after the restart. Guerreiro then put Dortmund back in front around the hour mark with a perfectly worked goal, but Schalke hit back once again and levelled the scores through Karaman with 11 minutes remaining. BVB subsequently lacked the clarity that had been present in their play before and saw 90th-minute efforts from Schlotterbeck and Dahoud kept out by last-ditch interventions.
Never before had the gap between the two teams in the table been bigger than in the run-up to the 160th derby, with FC Schalke 04 going into the game in 18th place following Bochum’s win on Friday evening. But the derby has its own laws, with BVB having recorded more defeats (15) than wins (13) against their rivals this century. Schalke were unbeaten in six rounds of matches in the league, while Borussia had won all eight of their games in 2023.
BVB were without Kobel (muscular problems), Reus (cold), Brandt (torn fibres), Adeyemi (lack of training), Moukoko (partial tear of the syndesmosis ligament), Duranville and Morey (both fitness training), and made four personnel changes for the derby compared to the Champions League clash away to Chelsea on Tuesday: Hummels, Ryerson, Bynoe-Gittens and Malen came into the team for Süle, Özcan, Brandt and Reus.
Despite, or perhaps because of, the numerous absentees and the resulting reshuffles, the approach remained the same as it had been in all previous matches this year: Borussia Dortmund played in a 4-1-4-1 system with Haller as the lone frontman and Can between the lines. The build-up play largely went through Hummels and predominantly through the middle, where Guerreiro partnered Bellingham in central midfield. Schalke played in a 4-2-3-1, defended man-to-man, looked for counter-attacking opportunities and played lots of long balls.
The match & analysis:
Dortmund had a lot of possession to begin with (over 70% in the first 15 minutes), built the play cautiously against a high pressing Schalke side and remained unaffected by the hectic atmosphere. The hosts tried from the outset to inject intensity and then also physicality into the match whenever Borussia approached the opposition penalty area. Lots of the play initially took place in midfield. It was the Black & Yellows who registered the first shots: an attempt by Ryerson that he dragged well wide from 11 metres (5) was followed by the first moment of danger as Hummels played a long ball to Guerreiro, who surged into the box from the right but was denied by Fährmann (14). At the other end, a defensive lapse gifted Schalke a great opportunity that was spurned by Zalazar, who fired well over the goal from an unmarked position 13 metres out (24). Soon afterwards, Jenz almost turned Malen’s low cross from the right flank into the back of his own net (26).
A lovely ball from Bellingham towards Malen, who turned on a sixpence in the penalty area and got a shot away from six metres out, almost brought about the opening goal for BVB but Fährmann made the save (30). Wolf then shot from the right of the six-yard box and drew another stop from the Schalke custodian, who made the block with his foot (37). BVB were increasingly exploiting the gaps in the Schalke rearguard and did so in both the run-up to the two aforementioned chances and the opening goal. Guerreiro passed the ball to the advancing Schlotterbeck 25 metres from goal, whose arrowing strike from 17 metres out flew into the bottom right corner (38). “Who’ll be German champions? BVB Borussia!” rang out around the stadium from the approximately 6,000-strong BVB support. The lively Malen was the next to threaten. After receiving Wolf’s pass, he once again proved unstoppable and targeted the far corner from a centre-right position in the box – but a Schalke defender slid in at the last moment and cleared for a corner (44).
A loss of possession in midfield gifted Schalke a route back into the game shortly after the restart. Zalazar played the ball in behind Ryerson, who had pushed up, Frey was afforded too much space and Schlotterbeck couldn’t get there; nor could Can in the middle as Bülter tapped home a low ball across the face of goal at the back post to make it 1-1 (50). The Royal Blues had levelled the scores with only their second chance of the entire match.
The Black & Yellows took around 10 minutes to process the setback. Can surged energetically through the middle and played a pinpoint ball into the path of Guerreiro. Bynoe-Gittens made a clever run to open up some space and the Portuguese once again demonstrated his technical quality, firing the ball into the top right corner at full sprint from a centre-left position. BVB were back in front with exactly an hour of the 160th Ruhr derby played.
Bynoe-Gittens had the chance to make it 3-1 in the 65th minute, with a combination of Wolf’s pass and Haller’s feint putting him clean through, but he missed narrowly from 12 metres out. BVB kept playing on the front foot but the close scoreline continued to make for a tense match. And one in which Schalke would equalise again. After Wolf’s clearance, BVB failed to put the opposition under pressure and the unimpeded Bülter was allowed to cross for the equally unimpeded substitute Karaman to head home. 2-2 after 79 minutes.
The chance to make it 3-2 fell to Guerreiro directly afterwards but he fizzed the ball agonisingly wide of the right upright. The team battled doggedly for the win but the third goal would not come. By hook or by crook, Schalke players managed to block shots from Schlotterbeck and Dahoud (90). It might have even been 3-2 at the other end had Meyer not made a brilliant save to keep out Balanta shortly beforehand (88).
The final round of fixtures before the international break sees Borussia Dortmund play host to 1. FC Cologne at SIGNAL IDUNA PARK next Saturday. Can will miss out through suspension.
Teams & goals
Bundesliga Matchday 24
FC SCHALKE 04 2-2 (0-1) BORUSSIA DORTMUND
FC Schalke 04: Fährmann – Brunner, Yoshida, Jenz, Matriciani – Kral, Krauß (Balanta, 74) – Aydin (Mohr, 74), Zalazar (Karaman, 68), Bülter – Frey (Terodde, 74)
Bor. Dortmund: Meyer – Wolf, Hummels, Schlotterbeck, Ryerson – Can – Malen (Reyna, 81), Bellingham, Guerreiro, Bynoe-Gittens (Dahoud, 68) – Haller (Modeste, 81)
Substitutes: Schwolow, Greiml, Müller, Tauer, Terodde – Lotka, Özcan, Meunier, Süle, Passlack, Njinmah
Goals: 0-1 Schlotterbeck (Guerreiro, 38), 1-1 Bülter (Frey, 50), 1-2 Guerreiro (Can, 60), 2-2 Karaman (Bülter, 79)
Corners: 3-6 (1-5 at half-time), chance ratio: 4-10 (1-6)
Referee: Fritz (Korb), yellow cards: Brunner – Can
Attendance: 61,571 (sold-out), weather: dry, 2 degrees