A tale of two substitutes | Sports| German football and major international sports news | DW | 01.11.2014
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A tale of two substitutes

In Dortmund's game against Bayern, two substitutions proved to be two turning points. Neven Subotic came on for Mats Hummels, Ribery for Götze, and both bore different results.

"I fouled him way outside the box and he kept running and fell in the box. I could have got a red card, but at that point I think it's something I have to do [make the tackle]. I tried not to break him, just to tear him down, but it didn't work."

Neven Subotic, speaking to DW after Borussia Dortmund's 2-1 loss to Bayern Munich on Saturday, was right. It didn't, and sometimes substitutes can have adverse affects, but on a night of genuinely competitive football it would be unfair to lay too much blame on the Serbian. In contrast to the other game-changing substitute on the night though, it's clear how different an effect the man from the bench can have.

Subotic came on for Mats Hummels at the break, after the Dortmund captain suffered a reported reoccurrence to his foot injury. Subotic, not helped by the fact Bayern were chasing the game, had to adjust quickly. Initially that didn't seem to be a problem, but by the end of the game Subotic had suffered from misfortune and mistiming, both of which cost Dortmund the game.

Game changer

"I don't have time," was all Franck Ribery said as he left the Allianz Arena after the game, and when he came on for Mario Götze with 20 minutes to play that much was true. Despite that, the Frenchman instantly slipped into Bayern's attack, was involved in both goals and made Bayern's comeback win possible.

Both substitutions were necessary, one through injury, one in an attempt to score goals. In truth, both changed the game.

Sliding to intervene a through-ball by Ribery, Subotic had done well to avoid the ball reaching an on-running Arjen Robben. What Subotic couldn't have predicted was that the ball would have fallen to Bayern's Robert Lewandowski and the Polish striker would have hammered it in.

Fortune favors the Frenchman

One man's misfortune is another's good luck. Had Ribery's ball made it past Subotic, Robben may well have been through but he could have been offside, missed the chance or been denied (again) by Dortmund keeper Roman Weidenfeller. Having got the weight of the pass fractionally wrong, Ribery was rewarded by Lewandowski's opportunism.

With a draw looming, referee Manuel Gräfe awarded a penalty after Subotic and Ribery got into a tangle in the box. The Serbian had to make a decision and ended up being outsmarted by Ribery who did just enough to draw the contact and convince the referee he had been fouled. Robben scored the kick and the game was lost.

On a night when Subotic was brave, fortune didn't accompany him but chose to favor a Frenchman instead.

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