Borussia Dortmund 2-1 FSV Mainz 05
Borussia Dortmund may have been on the wrong end of an embarrassment against Bayern Munich a week ago, but the race for the Bundesliga is far from over. Not with Jadon Sancho in such scintillating form!
The young Englishman is making plenty of people sit up and take notice this season, and his German adventure may yet end up with him scooping the biggest domestic prize available.
Certainly, with some tensions in the champions’ camp, there could be an opportunity for Dortmund to take advantage of a slip-up, which they themselves couldn’t afford.
Highlights of the game
Dortmund made only one change from the drubbing a week ago with Julian Weigl coming into the starting line-up.
An early goal would have been the ideal start for the hosts, and only the width of the post prevented that inside seven minutes.
Sancho’s short corner to Mario Gotze saw the ball come off Mainz midfielder Danny Latza and onto the far post before bouncing to safety.
Jacob Bruun Larsen then fired wide before testing visiting goalkeeper Florian Muller after great work by Sancho, as the hosts made an enterprising start.
But the young Englishman was not to be denied and broke the deadlock a few minutes later.
Marius Wolf’s long ball to Gotze was pinpoint and his control and delivery to Sancho warranted a goal. The 19-year-old delivered as he smashed the ball beyond Muller.
Six minutes later and it was that man again.
This time, Gotze, Reus, and Thomas Delaney teamed up. The Danish midfielder cut the ball back to Sancho, who pulled away from his marker to power a left-foot shot home — with the aid of a deflection.
It could have been three for Dortmund had Bruun Larsen not dragged his shot wide after bursting past Aaron Martin as Lucien Favre’s men took control.
If Dortmund are to end Bayern Munich’s six-year domestic dominance, they need to stay alert at the back. An opening half of home Bundesliga 2019 highlights nearly saw the gloss taken off as they allowed Mainz a big chance in first-half stoppage time.
Jean-Philippe Mateta raced into the box and found Karim Onisiwo, who was unfortunate when his clever turn and flick saw the ball clip the outside of the post.
Spirited Mainz also twice tested Roman Burki early in the second half. The luckless Onisiwo then poked the ball past the home custodian only for it to come back off the post for a second time.
When they needed it the most, good fortune was with Dortmund. While they were under spells of pressure, they managed to hold out until six minutes from time.
Moments after Reus clipped the ball wide after a 1-2 between Sancho and Gotze, Robin Quaison poked the ball home after a scramble in the box. Burki had just made a superb save to deny the lively Onisiwo seconds earlier.
Burki then saved Dortmund’s skin in quick succession from substitute Anthony Ujah as they survived to pick up the win.
In their last home game, Paco Alcacer was the last-gasp hero; this time the name of Sancho was the one on most fans’ lips.
Both challengers can win the title, but the Bundesliga 2019 betting odds on Dortmund rely heavily on youth and experience from Sancho and Marco Reus. The Dortmund native has led from the front in this title race with 15 goals and six assists in just 23 appearances.
While this may have been one of his quieter games, his importance to the cause has been underlined by their record with and without him.
When the 29-year-old plays, Dortmund average 2.36 points and score 2.59 goals per Bundesliga game. In his absence, those numbers drop to 2.0 and 1.75 respectively.
Reus firing on all cylinders is crucial to bringing the Bundesliga title back to Dortmund for the first time since 2012.
For the first time in a while, us fans have a Bundesliga title race on their hands.
Aged 19 years and 19 days old, Sancho is the youngest player to score 11 goals in Bundesliga history.
He has 11 league goals and 13 assists in his 29 league games this season. No player in any of Europe’s five major leagues has more assists than the English wing wizard this season.
Of their 25 meetings, Dortmund have defeated Mainz 14 times in the Bundesliga with Mainz triumphing four times. Mainz won 2-1 at Dortmund last season, the last time they were defeated at home.
The Black and Yellows’ total of 66 points from 29 games is more than Jurgen Klopp’s side had at the same stage in 2010/11 and 2011/12 – campaigns when they were crowned champions.
Dortmund have five matches remaining in the season. They next travel to Freiburg on Easter Day before they take on rivals Schalke in the Revierderby.
As for Mainz, they entertain Fortuna Dusseldorf a week from today, which is followed by a trip to Hannover 96.
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