The Enthusiast

Thank god it’s over for BVB

We knew the script going into our game with Hoffenheim on Saturday; a point would guarantee us a place in the Champions League next season, anything less would mean that we would need Bayer Leverkusen to score less than three clear goals. Simple, right? You’d think so. Yes, Hoffenheim have been very impressive since the turn of the year, but we are BVB. We were sitting third in the league and we had more than enough to seal our place in the top four. Not a doddle, but as close to one as we were going to get at this stage of the season.

It should have been done last week, of course. Mainz came to Signal Iduna Park needing a win to ensure they would be in the Bundesliga next season, we needed one to make sure we would be the most prestigious club competition in world football. We didn’t count on Mainz actually wanting to win that game more than we did though. Nobody thought that Sandro Schwarz would be able to wind his lads up that much that they would actually get anything out of the game, let alone three points.

That was exactly what happened though. Two early goals and it’s practically game over. There was a consolation from Max Phillipp but Dortmund never looked like getting back into it. There’s no point raking over old ground, these boys have been derided enough. They don’t need me – for my opinion’s worth, which is probably nothing – sticking my two pennies worth in too. They were poor and I’m sure they know it. But there was a chance to put things right. Leverkusen had dropped points, as had Hoffenheim. We were still in there, we were lucky to be in there, but in there nonetheless.

So, fast-forward a week and our opportunity rolls around at the Rhein-Neckar Arena. Hoffenheim are a good side but they are there for the taking. We’ve been in these positions before so it isn’t beyond us to get a result that we need here. What a nice way to round off a miserable season too, by giving Peter Stoeger, a man who has taken plenty of criticism despite practically turning our season around, a winning send-off and putting ‘Champions League qualifying manager’ on his C.V You can always rely on Borussia Dortmund to mess up a lovely day of football though.

In fairness, neither team looked like doing anything prior to Andrej Kramaric giving the opposition the lead. They probably wouldn’t have taken that lead either had Roman Burki not made a monumental error in the Dortmund goal, playing the ball directly to Kramaric after some awful control in his own six-yard box. We were always in this game even after that goal. We were as troubling to Hoffenheim as they were to us. The equaliser from Marco Reus had its fair share of luck but that luck was deserved. This was perfect, this was what we needed. We could live with 1-1. Real Madrid, Barcelona and Manchester United would be coming to Westphalia next season after all and they would be visiting the third best team in Germany. Sound that, happy days, all is well with the world and I’m sure the new manager will be delighted.

This is Borussia Dortmund 2017/18 though. That was never going to happen.

The second goal scored by Adam Szalai was utter brilliance from the Hoffenheim front line. They made us look silly with some slick passing and lightning movement. The third was a shambles from everyone’s point of view. Manuel Akanji’s block on the line was undertaken with his arm, so it should have been a penalty really. Pavel Kaderabek made sure there would be no doubt about the goal though by smashing past Burki to make it 3-1. The result in Leverkusen (who threw away their required three-goal lead to only beat Hannover 3-2 at the BayArena) conspired to see us into the Champions League but we should never have had to rely on that. It should never have got to that stage. This should have been wrapped up weeks ago.

The title of this one is appropriate on so many levels. Thank god this dismal season, with its sacking of two managers and employment of a guy who was clearly never up to the job, is over. Thank god this game, against an opposition we should have been beating with ease but ended up getting beaten by with ease, is over. Thank god the reign of Peter Stoeger, who was the wrong man for this job despite his previous credentials and obvious aptitude to manage a certain type of team, is over.

There will be a lot of movement and change over the summer, not least in the dugout. A new manager, a new season, new players, a new beginning. Let’s hope 2018/19 is much more cheerful than this season.