Freiburg rescue deserved 2-2 draw at the death

Borussia Dortmund could not manage to get the away victory they had been hoping for on Bundesliga Matchday 7 as they were held to a 2-2 (1-0) draw by Sport-Club Freiburg. BVB twice went ahead but were pegged back on both occasions.

The 24,000 spectators at a sold-out Schwarzwald-Station saw both teams exercise caution in a match that was controlled by BVB for long spells. Indeed, it was the Black & Yellows that opened the scoring courtesy of a spectacular strike from Axel Witsel in the 20th minute, although Freiburg levelled through Luca Waldschmidt on the 55-minute mark. Achraf Hakimi re-established the visitors’ lead midway through the second period (67), only for the hosts to rescue a 2-2 draw thanks to a Manuel Akanji own goal in the last minute.

Freiburg had made their best-ever start to a Bundesliga campaign, having taken 13 points from their opening six matches. They went into this one in third position, two points and five places ahead of opponents Dortmund, who were aiming to continue their incredible run in the Breisgau: the Black & Yellows had taken 22 out of a possible 24 points from their last eight trips there.

Personnel matters:

Lucien Favre, who was still without Alcácer (irritated Achilles tendon) and Schulz (fitness), made two changes to the starting XI that had won 2-0 in Prague three days earlier. Götze and Hazard were both drafted in as Brandt and Sancho dropped to the bench.

Tactics:

For the first time in a home game against Borussia Dortmund, Christian Streich opted for a back three/five. Freiburg, who took to the field in a 3-6-1 formation, took a very cautious approach, allowing their visitors to have the ball – rather than playing a high-pressing game that might have left them exposed – and defending compactly in front of their own penalty area. Dortmund lined up in a 4-2-3-1 formation in which Hakimi and Hazard frequently swapped sides – until Piszczek was forced off with an early injury in the 14th minute and the Moroccan took his place at right-back, though in reality he was a full-back in name only. Brandt, who came on for Piszczek, frequently swapped positions with Hazard and Götze following his introduction.

The match & analysis:

Reus had a shot that went behind for a corner in the 10th minute and Brandt had a sniff of goal from the corner of the six-yard box six minutes later – but all in all there were initially few concrete chances for BVB, who nonetheless dominated possession (70%) and corners (4-0) in the opening 20 minutes.

The fifth corner brought about the desired breakthrough, however – and what a goal it was! Witsel retreated towards the corner of the penalty area to escape his markers and smashed home a corner from countryman Hazard on the volley to make it 1-0. Even Streich raised a smile. It was the second time the two Belgians have combined for a goal – the first being Witsel’s opener in Frankfurt.

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Even after falling behind, Freiburg’s main preoccupation was to keep things tight at the back – but several gaps in the Dortmund defence did allow the home side three good goalscoring opportunities before the break. The first fell to Waldschmidt, whose shot from 14 metres out in the 17th minute sailed wide of the mark. Eight minutes later, Schmid set up Höler with a cross from the right that was touched back into the path of Günter, whose shot whistled inches wide of the upright. Then, with five minutes before the break, Günter took advantage of Hakimi being out of position and fed Waldschmidt, who shot from a centre-left position 14 metres out but again missed the target.

At the other end, meanwhile, Brandt had the chance to double the advantage in the 33rd minute when he was brilliantly played in by Götze, but despite being entirely unmarked he could not direct his header on target. In stoppage time, Hazard forced Schwolow into a spectacular save with a powerful strike (45+2).

Waldschmidt finally finds the net

But Dortmund’s wait-and-see approach was eventually punished after the interval. Waldschmidt first went close with an effort from 17 metres out in the 49th minute – but he finally found the net six minutes later, the midfielder letting Schmid’s pass run across his body before unleashing an unstoppable low drive into the bottom corner from 18 metres to make it 1-1. The leveller was not undeserved given the chance count of 5-3; it was the first goal Freiburg had scored at home against BVB since December 2011.

Hakimi with another excellent individual display

In the 63rd minute, Sancho came on for Hazard – and four minutes later BVB re-established their lead with a goal that was surprising and a tad fortunate. Brandt won the ball back and Sancho played in Hakimi, who cut into the Freiburg box from the right before turning inside and firing a shot that took a deflection off Kübler on its way into the net. The goal, which made it 2-1, was his third this week!

Freiburg snatch 2-2 draw with late leveller

Streich withdrew Abrashi and Kügler, two defensive-minded players, and replaced them with the more attack-minded duo of Petersen and Grifo. The latter made an immediate impact, gathering a poor clearance on the byline and drilling it across the face of goal, where it deflected off Akanji and through Bürki’s legs before trickling in.

Domestic action will now pause for the second international break of the season. BVB are next in action in two weeks, when they play host to Borussia Mönchengladbach on 19 October. Tickets for that match are already sold-out.

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