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Borussia Dortmund's title hopes dented in 'wild' Revierderby

Michael Da Silva in Gelsenkirchen
March 11, 2023

Borussia Dortmund's turbulent week went from bad to worse as their 100% start to 2023 in the Bundesliga ground to a halt at the home of rivals Schalke. The result leaves Dortmund two points behind Bayern Munich.

Jude Bellignham looks on after Dortmund's defeat by Schalke
Jude Bellingham was defended by Edin Terzic after the game.Image: kolbert-press/IMAGO

A week is a long time in football. Borussia Dortmund went into it having won every game in 2023, including a Champions League last-16 first leg against Chelsea.

But they have now ended it out of Europe and having lost their 100% Bundesliga record at the home of bitter local rivals Schalke.

The run was bound to end sometime but of all the places Dortmund fans would have wanted, Gelsenkirchen was not it – and coach Edin Terzic was left trying to mask his emotions after a result that clearly hurt.

"There were two ways to approach this game: either with the emotion and passion of a derby, where we know Schalke can match us, or via our superior qualities," Terzic told reporters in the post-game press conference after Schalke had twice come from behind to earn a 2-2 draw.

"In the first half, we showed those qualities," said Terzic. "But the second half became a game of emotion and it got wild."

Raphael Guerreiro scores for Borussia Dortmund against Schalke
Raphael Guerreiro was the plus point for Dortmund, reveling in a midfield roleImage: IMAGOTeam 2

Guerreiro fills Brandt-shaped hole

Dortmund arrived at the Veltins Arena with injuries mounting. Captain Marco Reus, out with illness, joined Karim Adeyemi and Youssoufa Moukoko on the sidelines.

But it was the absence of Julian Brandt, who sustained a hamstring injury defeat in the defeat by Chelsea, which was felt most acutely by Dortmund. Their uptick in form since the turn of the year had been in no small part down to the 26-year-old's consistency.

All this presented a dilemma for Terzic as his Dortmund team made the 24-kilometer journey across the Ruhr Valley looking to keep pace with Bayern Munich following their earlier 5-3 punishment of Augsburg. With Bayern back on the up after exposing PSG, Dortmund had to find a way to win in Gelsenkirchen.

Terzic opted for an unfamiliar team, with Sebastien Haller flanked by 18-year-old Londoner Jamie Bynoe-Gittens and Donyell Malen, who wasted chance after chance in the first half. Terzic may humbly concede that Dortmund lacked the creativity that Gio Reyna would surely have supplied.

If Dortmund's makeshift forward-line struggled, Terzic deserved credit for moving left-back Raphael Guerreiro into central midfield, where he partnered Jude Bellingham.

Guerreiro reveled in a role he has occupied only once before, enjoying the freedom to supply the assist for Nico Schlotterbeck's opener and, after Marius Bülter had made it 1-1, lashed in a sublime goal that should have been the Dortmund winner.

"Who will be German champions?" bellowed the 5,700 traveling supporters. "Borussia BVB!"

But Schalke had other ideas.

The scoreboard at the Veltins Arena reading 2-2
Schalke twice came from behind to earn a deserved point against DortmundImage: Revierfoto/IMAGO

Terzic defends Bellingham: not 'overused'

Guerreiro wasn't the only player to end the game with a goal and assist. Schalke's Bülter added to his equalizer to lay on the second for substitute Kenan Karaman, who punished Dortmund after Bellingham had given the ball away.

It was a mistake notable for its rarity, particularly given how influential Bellingham had been throughout the contest. But following a subpar performance in London and a consequential error here, Terzic was left having to defend his best player and his decision to play him every game.

"Jude has frequently and rightly been praised by us, and by the media," Terzic said. "He's an extremely important player for us. If I had the impression that he was being overused, I would be discussing it with him, not with you. Of course, he’s played a lot. Why? Because he's so good. But we are open and honest with each other."

As Bellingham and his cohorts applauded the travelling support at full time, Schalke's players celebrated in front of the Nordkurve after extending their unbeaten run to seven and further boosting their survival hopes.

And not only that; there was also the added bonus of having dented their rivals' title hopes. Dortmund are left with a draw that feels like a defeat and a sense that only victory in Munich on April 1 can reignite their title challenge.

"Who will be German champions?" chanted the Schalke fans this time, imitating their rivals. "Borussia BVB? Never!" 

All hope is not lost but Dortmund have certainly had better weeks.

Edited by Matt Ford.