When Borussia Dortmund beat Bayern Munich to claim the German Super Cup prior to the beginning of the current Bundesliga campaign, head coach Jurgen Klopp must have believed that his preparations for the new season were progressing as planned. Both teams were missing players due to lack of fitness and injury, but Borussia had assumed a confident mood at the kick-off of the new season. That confidence did not even last 10 seconds.
An opening game against Bayer Leverkusen was scheduled at Signal-Iduna Park and the opposition had already contested a Champions League playoff match in midweek when they won 3-2 at FC Copenhagen, which followed a decent pre-season for the team.
It was also to be the first league match for new Bayer head coach Roger Schmidt after his appointment during the summer after similar roles at Paderborn and Red Bull Salzburg. As the match began in Dortmund on Saturday, both teams were fielding expensive debutants and were also wary that Bayern Munich had opened the Bundesliga season with a 2-1 victory against Wolfsburg on the Friday evening.
Jurgen Klopp realised that he could ill-afford to lose ground to the reigning champions at such an early stage and so selected Marco Reus, despite reservations about the player’s lack of fitness following an injury which enforced his withdrawal from the German World Cup squad.
What followed was not in the script. Within nine seconds of the referee blowing the whistle, the ball was in the Dortmund net courtesy of Leverkusen’s Karim Bellarabi who cannot be described as a prolific goalscorer. It was the quickest goal in the history of German top flight football and shocked both Klopp and the majority of the watching 80,000 spectators in addition to the television audience.
Dortmund just did not seem to recover from this very early setback and created few chances during the game. Granted, several players are still absent with injury including Mats Hummels and Jakub Blaszczkowski but Bayer Leverkusen adopted pressing tactics which unsettled the home team forcing uncharacteristic mistakes.
Reus was replaced with fifteen minutes remaining, but new signing Ciro Immobile from Torino failed to demonstrate that he could be the ideal replacement in the main striking role for the now departed Robert Lewandowski. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang fared little better alongside Immobile while Leverkusen striker Stefan Kiessling added to Dortmund woes by adding a second goal in added time following a defensive mistake.
A 2-0 defeat for Borussia Dortmund is not the end of the world, but hardly the most auspicious start to the new season. For Bayer Leverkusen, the victory may be a sign that they could improve upon their fourth position of last season without seriously troubling a Bayern Munich team which appears destined to clinch a third successive Bundesliga title.