I am guest writing by special request. Kai didn’t want to miss this game but he’s got other activities so he asked for me to fill in. The Bundesliga is an especially fierce competition this year. Teams with too much talent on their books, like Munich and Dortmund, are under-performing while Wolfsburg and Gladbach lead a host of effective teams. Brilliant Schalke enter the match day with a third of the player value but only one point behind their rivals on the table.
Based on player value alone, Dortmund, with a Martindex value of -1.3, should be two victories clear on 16 points but Schalke, with a Martindex of 3.5 should be on 10 points. They have found great value in their squad and are in striking distance of the top of the table early in the season. More details are available on the Bundesdash, if you select the Bundesliga.
In the first half, Schalke pressured on Dortmund with several opportunities from set pieces, only shut out by the goal post. Fans were apoplectic after a brilliant header from Sane off a corner and an open chance for Serdar rattled the frame but stayed out. If Matondo had been more trigger happy, or more imaginative with space, Schalke should have had the lead going into halftime.
The hosts’ aggressive but clean play brought out few stoppages and successfully kept Black and Yellow on their heels. Dortmund’s best chances seemed to come by pestering the Schalke goalie with a full field press. This nearly resulted in dangerous and embarrassing turnovers.
Some controversy arose near the hour mark as an apparent Dortmund hand ball in the box and potential foul against Schalke occurred on the same corner kick. The hand ball seemed similar to the situation from last night’s FC Köln match-up where the ball clearly hit a Mainz player in the arm in the box. Here, again, referees judged no hand, no foul.
The Bundesliga is taking a much more reasonable approach to hand balls but teams hurt by this apparently evolving interpretation will no doubt complain.
With a the benefit of a deep bench, Dortmund elected for fresh legs early in the second half, exchanging Götze for Hazard at the 58th minute, and Akanji for Delaney at the 74th. Akanji made his presence felt with a headed cross in front of an open goal but no one was there to finish. With the refreshed help, Jadon Sancho had several chances. One stopped by Alexander Nübel, the other sailing just wide of target.
With Akanji’s presence, momentum clearly shifted. Black and Yellow started to swarm. To stem the one-way traffic, Schalke decided for its own set of fresh legs, taking off Matondo for Kutucu with 10 minutes left of regulation time. Schalke seemed to be playing for the point instead of the win.
Schopf entered for Caliguri but not to be outdone, Dortmund exchanged Hakimi for a fresh Brandt in the 86th minute, just after Hakimi seemed to have his best chance of the game. Late in the game, things got more chippy with Kutucu booked for a malicious hockey check. That would have seen a two-minute power play for leaving his feet into the hit. As it was, he saw yellow.
After three minutes of injury time, the ref ended play. Schalke is surely happy with the point.