I’m back to Westfalenstadion, or also known for corporate reasons: Signal Iduna Stadium, where the famous Black and Yellow of Borussia Dortmund faithful stand, sing, and cheer for the home team. However, this time around I feel a different buzz, a very different and dynamic essence in the air in the environment of the home of Borussia Dortmund compared to the last time that I was there in Westfalenstadion. I think the reason is due to Borussia being in first place at the top of the Bundesliga standings for the first time in a long time as the perennial challengers, Bayern Munich, have struggled and have been mostly within 2nd to 5th place during this season after initially winning the German Super Cup but then uncharacteristically struggling.
This Dortmund team has also fared much better in both German Cup and Champions League competitions so the fans know that this season is a lot different from last year’s – it’s better. And it’s rubbing its winning habit and attitude onto the fans and the city knowing that this team actually has a legitimate shot at winning some trophies. I think beating Bayern Munich for the league title would be a big celebration indeed for the Dortmund fans as they consider Bayern their chief and biggest rivals.
This game did in fact turn out to be different for two big reasons. The first being that both named have the word Borussia styled into their team names. Borussia is that Latin-spelling for Prussia. Due to this inclusion in both teams, it brings a lot of hate and rivalry between the two all due to a naming similarity. Borussia Monchengladbach fans often sing that “There is only one Borussia” when the two teams face each other. I saw a lot of Dortmund fans sticking their middle fingers towards the away fans with such vile and hate because of this naming issue.
The second reason for being different is that unlike the last game when I was at a Borussia Dortmund game, when the team had to settle for a tie after initially falling behind 1-2, Dortmund was more in the driver’s seat this time around by pushing more attacks and then scoring the first goal before Monchengladbach equalized. Then Dortmund kept piling on the pressure which ended up in scoring a second goal while at the same time, the team was able to prevent an opposing goal to cruise on wards to a victory, gaining three points on the standings to maintain their top record, and now able to enjoy Christmas break.
One other thing that I noticed differently from last season’s game that I went to was that the team played differently but much better from a tactically standpoint. Unlike last year’s team where their attacking approach was more haphazardly, this team plays a more force-able frontal attack and if the front collapses, they use the sides via crosses to find a soft underbelly. Much more polished this time around for this season and maybe due to better players fitting their system. The only problem though is that Monchengladbach plays this weird line offense and line defense style meaning at least 3-4 players are always in this imaginary horizontal line playing a zone with each other. I could see a lot of Dortmund’s crosses being snuffed out because of this line defense. Overall, it can work out great if they are playing like a well-oiled machine, but if the players end up being misfiring pistons in that machine, then they don’t play as good as they should be. For example, I saw one Monchengladbach player with the ball all by himself basically going 1 on 3. He had to pull back because there was no way he could go solo, however, it would have been different had a top world class player was in his place because then that player could likely go 1 on 3 and score. Also, I can see having a line-zone would open up a lot to world-class talents who know how to use open holes even in traffic to get themselves free. So there are good and bad things about this but I think due to Dortmund’s aggressive playing style, it’s what led to Dortmund getting those goals and ultimately the victory.