As the 2019/20 Bundesliga season slowly draws to its conclusion after a coronavirus-induced two-month break, SC Paderborn played host to Borussia Dortmund at the Benteler-Arena on Sunday evening, in a game that was a part of the 29th round.
Going into the match, both teams were desperate for points, desperate for any glimpse of hope for what would’ve been their respective start-of-term goals to be achieved. Of course, these two teams were setting the bar at different heights.
Having beaten second-place Dortmund directly on Tuesday, table-toppers Bayern Munich dismantled Fortuna Dusseldorf on Saturday and what was a four-point gap only a week ago was stretched into 10. Dortmund simply had to win and get it back to seven to stand any kind of chance of usurping the defending champions. On the other hand, bottom-side Paderborn’s fate seemed sealed as they sat eight points behind the play-off-bound Dusseldorf, but a win would have at least given them a vague hope of survival.
Paderborn boss Steffen Baumgart was without the services of defender Luca Kilian and midfielder Klaus Gjasula.
Leopold Zingerle was in goal. Uwe Hunemeier and Christian Strohdiek paired up at the back, with fullbacks Mohamed Drager and Jamilu Collins either side of them. Sebastian Schonlau provided additional protection for the back four, forming a midfield line of five together with Sebastian Vasiliadis, Dennis Srbeny, Christopher Antwi-Adjej and Gerrit Holtmann. Streli Mamba was the lone striker.
Lucien Favre in the away dugout couldn’t call upon his star striker Erling Haaland who injured his knee against Bayern. Midfielder Mahmoud Dahoud suffered the same fate, though his issue is reportedly much more serious and he isn’t expected back for the rest of the campaign. Defender Dan-Axel Zagadou, wing-back Nico Shulz, and the team captain, winger Marco Reus, were also absent.
Roman Burki stood between the posts. Mats Hummels was joined by Manuel Akanji and Lukasz Piszczek in defence. The midfield duo of Thomas Delaney and Emre Can was flanked by wing-backs Raphael Guerreiro and Achraf Hakimi. Further up, Julian Brandt and Jadon Sancho supported Thorgan Hazard in attack.
The First Half
Wasting no time, the visitors took control from the first whistle. They had no problems with taking the ball to Paderborn’s half quickly, and the first danger for Zingerle’s goal came in the third minute when Can broke down the right and squared it into the box, but Drager was alert and cleared it from the six-yard line. The home team managed occasionally to turn the flow the other way, but those moments were rare.
However, Paderborn had a decent chance in the 11th minute, but Antwi-Adjej dragged his 15-yard shot from a tight angle wide of the far post. The moment gave the players in black-and-blue some confidence and the same player had a go from a similar position three minutes later, this time sending his effort over the bar.
The ball was now spending more time in Dortmund’s half. The visitors lost it frequently whenever they moved across the halfway line. Brandt and Sancho were being stifled, and Hazard seemed completely cut off. The situation prompted a momentary change of approach from Favre’s men in the 17th minute, and a great long ball from Piszczek found Hazard’s run in behind. The Belgian did extremely well to get a shot on target at full pace from a tight angle, but Zingerle was positioned well.
Several minutes of fierce pressure from Dortmund followed, but Paderborn survived and moved forward again. The home team mostly attacked down the left side, and duels between Collins and Dortmund’s Hakimi were frequent and fierce.
In the 26th minute, Dortmund broke forward quickly and Sancho and Brandt did very well to set Guerreiro up for a shot from around 15 yards. Zingerle was beaten, but Collins managed to deflect it wide at the last split-second. Right on the half-hour mark, Strohdiek short-changed his goalkeeper with a headed back-pass and Hazard pounced, almost taking the ball past Zingerle, but Zingerle’s reflex reaction was impeccable. Less than a minute later a sharp low cross from the left across the six yards was cleared right in front of the onrushing Hazard.
Dortmund’s initiative continued towards the end of the half and Paderborn occasionally seemed about to crumble under the hail of chances, but they somehow survived again. In the 44th minute, Emre Can tried his luck from 20 yards but his shot went high over the bar. Less than a minute later, Hakimi broke down the right and squared the ball across the box. Both Hazard and Sancho allowed it to slide through for Brandt who was coming in from the other side, but Brandt also failed to hit the target.
The Second Half
Dortmund started the second half in a bit of a stupor and they were almost punished for it in the 49th minute when a sharp low ball that Holtmann sent diagonally across the box almost found Mamba, but the striker couldn’t reach it in time. It was a strong wakeup call for the players in black-and-yellow and they responded by creating two fantastic chances within three minutes; but Zingerle first produced a magnificent save to deny Hakimi, and then Hazard failed to divert a low ball across the six yards goalwards.
But in the 55th minute, Dortmund finally broke the deadlock. A good diagonal pass found the run of Guerreiro on the left. The wing-back then engaged Can further down the flank, who whipped in a cross. Zingerle parried it short, and Hazard reacted more quickly than Hunemeier, putting it into the empty net.
The visitors doubled their lead within two minutes. Paderborn moved forward but lost the ball quickly, and Delaney’s lovely through pass found Brandt running into the box from the left. Brandt then simply squared it towards the far post, from where Sancho had no difficulty whatsoever to slam it in.
From that point on, Paderborn obviously had nothing to lose and they pushed forward with all their might. In the 63rd minute, Holtmann managed to put the ball in the net after a set-piece but the linesman had raised his flag for offisde. Less than a minute later a complete blunder from Burki could have caused Dortmund serious problems, but Delaney saved his goalkeeper’s skin with a calm reaction.
Paderborn boss Baumgart made a double change in a bid to freshen his attack in the 65th minute. Sven Michel and Ben Zolinski replaced Mamba and Srbeny. Favre’s first change was to introduce Axel Witsel for Delaney three minutes later.
Dortmund tried to take matters into their hands afterwards, but Emre Can not only wasted a good opportunity with a feeble shot from the edge of the box that Zingerle had no problems with, he also gifted Paderborn a great chance to bounce back; which they took.
Drager broke into the box down the right and tried to send the ball across, hitting Can on the elbow. The referee blew the whistle and pointed to the spot. Hunemeier stepped up.
But the home team’s new hope was short-lived. In their very next move, Dortmund broke down the left through Hazard, and the Belgian pulled it back for Sancho. The young England international wasn’t marked nearly well enough and he took advantage of the situation by smacking it accurately past the Paderborn ‘keeper.
It was now much easier for Dortmund to play patiently. They were content with letting Paderborn have the ball but preventing them from doing much with it. They were good at that, and there were always the possibility of releasing the pace of Hazard on the counterattack.
Favre made a double change with 10 minutes to go, introducing Giovanni Reyna for Brandt and Marcel Schmelzer for Guerreiro. Baumgart responded by withdrawing the hardly visible Vasiliadis and sending on Dennis Jastrzembski.
Fatigue was obviously kicking in for Paderborn players towards the end, and Dortmund took the chance to seal the deal in the 85th minute. They broke down the left again and eventually Schmelzer set up Hakimi for a shot, and the Real Madrid loanee was ruthless.
Three minutes later they almost made it five. Paderborn moved forward in numbers again, but Sancho took the ball and marched on the counterattack. He involved Reyna who broke into the box down the right, but his shot went wide of the far post.
But with a minute to go, they did make it five. Another lightning-quick counterattack was eventually put away by Schmelzer from close range.
And just as it seemed the hosts’ misery was over, it happened again. Paderborn took a corner which was cleared as far as Sancho. The winger charged forward, and he and Hazard had a two-on-one situation. In the end, Sancho finished it off himself.
It was an interesting game in certain ways, despite the final score. It was a clear proof of the incredible talent of this very young Dortmund team, much more so than when they contested against the experience and the winning mentality of Bayern in their previous match. Paderborn certainly don’t have the quality necessary to stifle the likes of Hazard, Sancho and Brandt when they’re on a full swing.
And speaking of Paderborn, one thing they do have is spirit. They fought bravely and held out for a long time, but they were beaten fair and square in the end. Their focus wavered as the game went along, and Baumgart will certainly want to work with his players on keeping concentration and staying sharp for the full 90 minutes.
This result did very little for Dortmund’s title challenge, though it has probably kept their hopes flickering. On the other hand, Paderborn are a step closer to playing in the 2nd Bundesliga next season.
SC PADERBORN: Zingerle 7.5, Strohdiek 6, Hunemeier 6, Drager 7, Collins 7, Schonlau 6, Vasiliadis 4, Srbeny 5 (65 Zolinski 5), Antwi-Adjej 6.5, Holtmann 7, Mamba 5.5 (65′ Michel 5).
BORUSSIA DORTMUND: Burki 6, Hummels 7.5, Akanji 6.5, Piszczek 7.5, Delaney 7 (68′ Witsel 7), Can 7, Hakimi 7.5, Guerreiro 7, Brandt 7.5, Sancho 7.5, Hazard 7.5.
GOALS: Hazard 54′, Sancho 57′, 74′, 90′, Hunemeier (P) 72′, Hakimi 85′, Schmelzer 89′.
YELLOW CARDS: Sancho 58′, Collins 60′, Can 71′, Hummels 76′, Drager 82′.
REFEREE: Daniel Siebert.
DATE & VENUE: May 31, 2020, Benteler-Arena, Paderborn.