Borussia Dortmund had successful restart to the Bundesliga, beating arch-rivals Schalke 04 4-0 at the Westfalenstadion behind closed doors on Saturday. According to Sebastian Kehl, head of the license player department, everyone adhered to the strict guidelines of the DFL’s medical concept.
“First of all, I’m very happy with the result,” the 40-year-old said about the first league match since 7 March, adding: “It was a cold start for everyone today. We had no opportunity to train in that constellation before and suddenly Gio Reyna also had to be sidelined due to an injury [he picked up in the warm-up].”
“It felt very strange to me and you could see that it was also weird for the guys on the field. They weren’t really celebrating the goals. But it was a good sign when they went in front of the Yellow Wall after the game to send their applause to the fans watching at home in front of the tv.”
Kehl was also involved in the planning and organisation of the Deutsche Fussball Liga’s medical concept for training and match operations in professional football in the context of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. The former BVB captain was content with the implementation of the novel rules: “As for the organisational matters, I think things went smoothly today. Sure, there were a lot of new things to be mindful of for the players and the coach but they strictly adhered to our guidelines. Nevertheless, I think it was visible they felt some joy on the pitch as they were supposed to. Overall, it was a hitch-free matchday here in Dortmund and I’m sure that applies to other Bundesliga stadiums as well.”
Borussia Dortmund had to make do without several key players. Team captain Marco Reus, defender Dan-Axel Zagadou, midfielders Emre Can and Axel Witsel, as well as full-back Nico Schulz, were all ruled out for the game. Meanwhile, Jadon Sancho only started on the bench due to calf problems and his supposed replacement in the starting line-up Giovanni Reyna picked up an injury during the warm-up.
“Obviously, it was clear that a few players would miss the action so we could adjust,” Kehl said about Dortmund’s prominent sickbay. “A big compliment to the team that was on the pitch because they were up to the task. That being said, the team on the field was of a very high grade and they did an excellent job. It was visible that a few players were tired toward the end so it was helpful that we could make substitutions. Nevertheless, I hope that a couple of our injured players will return soon so that they’re available for the game next week in Wolfsburg.”
Thorgan Hazard, who stood in for Reyna, set up the inevitable Erling Haaland in the 29th minute for the opener. Raphael Guerreiro doubled the lead shortly before halftime. Hazard himself made it 3-0 three minutes into the second half before Guerreiro scored his brace with a ridiculous outside-of-the-boot shot past the hapless Markus Schubert in the 63rd minute for the final 4-0 scoreline.
The man of the match was Julian Brandt but Kehl refused to single out the former Leverkusen midfielder: “Julian Brandt was involved in all four goals, Rapha Guerreiro scored a brace and Erling [Haaland] was also on the scoresheet once again. Thomas Delaney and Mo Dahoud, who both didn’t play in a long time — we were really compact today and didn’t allow many chances, so I would find it a bit unfair to highlight one individual player.”
Sporting director Michael Zorc thought that the 4-0 scoreline was fully deserved after 90 minutes. He said: We were all relieved after the game. With the result and run of play. We played a really great game. After all, we didn’t know how our form was going to be after such a long break and those extraordinary circumstances. I can only compliment the team for the effort. It was a deserved win and also with that scoreline. I’m very satisfied.”
The Black and Yellows gained two points on third-place Leipzig, who drew 1-1 against SC Freiburg in a parallel fixture. League leaders Bayern Munich will try restore their four-point advantage over BVB when they go into action away to Union Berlin on Sunday.