The U23s suffered their second defeat of the season on Matchday 5 of the Drittliga. BVB’s second team lost 2-0 away to 1. FC Saarbrücken.

The scenario: Borussia Dortmund’s U23s had a balanced record after four matches (one win, two draws, one defeat). While they had been impressive on the defensive end, there was still room for improvement going forward. The side from Saarbrücken also had five points – fewer than they would have expected at this stage. BVB had nothing to show from their previous three matches between the two sides, having lost all three games.

Personnel matters: After the first defeat of the season (2-0) against Dresden last week, coach Zimmermann made four changes to his starting eleven: Patrick Göbel and Bjarne Pudel replaced Mario Suver and Ted Tattermusch in the back four, while Michael Eberwein and Paul-Philipp Besong were tasked with causing trouble up-front from the outset alongside Justin Butler and Falko Michel.

The match: The U23s showed plenty of ambition in the early stages and tried to force Saarbrücken into errors in possession with a high midfield press. At the back, BVB centre-back Hendry Blank in particular gained the respect of FCS top scorer Kai Brünker. The pair of them engaged in intense duels in the opening stages. Chances were initially in short supply in what was a rather cagey affair. A long-range shot from Michel went straight at Saarbrücken goalkeeper Tim Paterok, who had no problems dealing with it on 10 minutes. At the other end, Julian Günther-Schmidt shot from an acute angle and found only the side netting in the 24th minute. Six minutes after the hosts first came close to scoring, BVB goalkeeper Marcel Lotka was able to show his goalkeeping prowess for the first time when Patrick Schmidt forced him to make a smart save. 

The BVB attack, led by Ole Pohlmann, linked up well at times, but repeatedly came up short in the final third. Butler spurned the best chance with half an hour on the watch. A Michel cross found the BVB man at the far post, but he fired wide from close range on 35 minutes. BVB would pay for that miss, as shortly afterwards, the home crowd were cheering. It all came from a long throw-in, which the outrushing Lotka failed to grasp. The ball ricocheted off several players and ultimately landed at the feet of Kasim Rahibic, who found the back of the net at the second attempt to open the scoring on 37 minutes.

Coach Zimmermann responded at the break, bringing on two sets of fresh legs, as Jermain Nischalke and Samuel Bamba replaced Besong and Butler. But as in the first half, it was Michel who fired a first warning shot 5 minutes after the restart. In the following period, Dortmund remained the more active of the two sides, but could not find a way through the compact Saarbrücken defence. The Black and Yellows lacked a sense of purpose and penetration. It was an altogether different story for the hosts, who in turn took advantage of the few opportunities they carved out. Brünker did not hesitate in the penalty area and doubled the home side’s lead in the 58th minute.

Even after the second goal, the Black and Yellows did not shy away from the challenge, but once again failed to find a gap in the Saarbrücken back line due to too many imprecise passes. A Pohlmann free-kick in the 65th minute, which Paterok parried, remained the best opportunity for the away side to pull one back in front of more than 11,000 spectators in the Ludwigsparkstadion.

Head coach Jan Zimmermann: “In the end, I think the result is disappointing. I can’t blame my lads. We played a good away game. We implemented a great deal of what we had set out to do. But we simply lack that bit of greediness and desire to go the extra yard to score a goal. We created great opportunities, but failed to finish them with purpose. But still, I am convinced that we are on the right track. You can really tell the team are enjoying playing at the moment. The quality is there, the attitude is there, the willingness is there. We just need a taste of success.”

Outlook: The first international break is upon us. The U23s will continue their campaign on 16 September with the home match at the Rote Erde against Viktoria Köln. Kick-off in that one is at 14:00 CET.

Goals: 1-0 Rabihic (37), 2-0 Brünker (58)

U23s: Lotka – Pudel (Tattermusch, 85), Göbel, Blank, Bueno – Pfanne (Roggow, 64), Eberwein (Kamara, 74), Pohlmann, Michel – Butler (Bamba, 46), Besong (Nischalke, 46)