Early deficit after a lacklustre start: Borussia Dortmund’s U23s lost their Drittliga home match against SG Dynamo Dresden 3-1 (3-0) despite a significant improvement in their performance.

Personnel: Dortmund coach Jan Zimmermann made five changes to his starting line-up from the 1-0 defeat in Freiburg nine days earlier, with Marco Pasalic, Falko Michel, Franz Pfanne and Prince Aning dropping to the bench, while Pharell Collins had captained the BVB U19s the day before, leading them to the West German Championship, so couldn’t make this game for the U23s. In their place, Tom Rothe, Niklas Dams, Abdoulaye Kamara and Ole Pohlmann stepped into the first eleven, along with Thomas Meunier, who was starting his first competitive match for the Black and Yellows since suffering a torn muscle in BVB’s 2-0 Bundesliga loss at Union Berlin on 16 October.

The scenario: The guests at SIGNAL IDUNA PARK were Dynamo Dresden, one of the most in-form teams in the league. The Saxons came to the Strobelallee as the third strongest team in the second half of the season and were still undefeated since the winter break. BVB went into the game top of the relegation zone and were looking to jump out of the relegation places with their fifth home win of the season.

The match: The U23s got stuck in the starting blocks in front of 13,550 spectators at SIGNAL IDUNA PARK. Their guests from Saxony directly took control of the game. After Abdoulaye Kamara fouled Dennis Borkowski, Ahmet Arslan floated in a free-kick from the left side of the midfield into the six-yard box. Stefan Kutschke jumped the highest and headed home to give the away side a 1-0 lead on 6 minutes. 

Dresden gathered momentum and immediately scored a second. Dynamo shifted the play from midfield to Jonathan Meier on the left-wing, who played in a perfect cross. Jakob Lemmer only had to get a touch to make it 2-0 with only 8 minutes on the watch. After a duel between Antonios Papadopoulos and Kutschke, in which the ball was nowhere to be seen, Dynamo were awarded a penalty, which Dynamo’s fouled striker converted for a 3-0 lead after 17 minutes. 

After the whirlwind start from Dresden, the U23s found their way into the game. They looked dangerous for the first time when Falko Michel, who came into the game early to replace Can Özkan, played in a ball from the left side, but Stefan Drljaca, the former Dortmund player in the Dynamo goal, held the ball well on 23 minutes.

Shortly afterwards, the Dortmund team had their best chance to score their first goal. Antonios Papadopoulos sent Justin Njinmah clean through with a defence-splitting pass, but Dresden’s Jonathan Meier sprinted back and slid in to knock the ball out for a corner at the last second.

Borussia appeared to play with more purpose after the sides changed ends, and were rewarded with their first goal. Justin Njinmah won the ball on the right touchline, dribbled into the penalty area and placed his shot into the far corner to pull one back for 3-1 on 53 minutes.

Dortmund then tried to give the fans an exciting end to the game by pulling within one goal of the away side, but couldn’t manage it, despite some promising opportunities. The closest they came was a Papadopoulos free-kick, which flew just over the bar in the 73rd minute. At the other end, Thomas Meunier prevented another Dresden goal with a goal-line clearance.

The outlook: There are two important games for the U23s during a busy week with midweek action. On Wednesday (kick-off: 19:00 CET), they take on bottom-of-the table VfB Oldenburg, before facing third-bottom FSV Zwickau at 14:00 CET on Sunday.

Head coach Jan Zimmermann: “We were caught napping for the first 20 minutes. We didn’t get going all. Then we showed what we can do. If we had made it 3-2, and the situations were there to do just that, it would have been very tight. Today, of course, Dynamo were better than us in terms of composure and efficiency.”

Niklas Dams: “After the first ten minutes, for which I still have no explanation, we were much more in the game, played much better up front and had good chances to go within one goal of them even in the first half.”

U23s: Lotka – Meunier, Papadopoulos, Dams, Coulibaly (Pasalic, 65), Rothe (Aning, 83) – Özkan (Michel, 16), Kamara (Tattermusch, 46) – Njinmah (Otuali Omohe, 83), Eberwein, Pohlmann.

Daniel Mertens