We came, we saw, we conquered – Borussia Dortmund 0 – 1 The Arsenal
I don’t normally do many away games with The Arsenal, so when I do it’s usually a big trip. As this years Champions League draw was made it was an easy decision to make to go to Dortmund. Runners up last year, play good football, have a great stadium and a good manager, the ingredients were all there to go. I really wanted to experience the atmosphere of German football and BVB’s famous yellow wall.
The trip itself was seamless and many countries should take note in including the train fares with the tickets. EUR 46 is very cheap for a match ticket and a 1 hour train trip from Dusseldorf to Dortmund.
During the day we strolled around Dortmund, savoring the food and the atmosphere created by the travelling Gooners.
As we checked into our hotel, which was a mere 10 minute walk to Westfalenstadion, my dad (@papalolly) and I had the smallest of thoughts as to whether this was the hotel the Arsenal players were staying in. As we were sitting, minding our own business over a beer or two, I caught a glimpse of Giles Grimandi, and after having that doubly confirmed by my dad we soon realised that the players must be staying in our hotel. Stevie Bould then sauntered through followed by Monsieur Wenger. I was soon reduced to an excited child as we saw the whole squad ambling about the lifts going up to their rooms.
Well, that put us in a great mood before we even started heading off to the Westfalenstadion. In the short walk we were immersed in the 60,000+ Dortmund fans and there was not one hint of trouble as we walked proudly in our red and white of The Arsenal. Security at the stadium was tight and everyone (BVB fans and Arsenal fans) was body searched. In fact it was a stricter body search than anything witnessed at an airport. On speaking to a Dortmund fan on the way in security was tight because of after their local derby with Schalke.
With the stadium being within a huge park it was easy to see what we may have missed in building The Emirates right next to Highbury. History and tradition aside, you could see the logistical benefits of building a great stadium on green belt land. However, despite the sheer size of Westfalenstadion, The Emirates is a nicer ground.
So we were in, and our seats were great, right by the pitch to the left of the goal we eventually scored in however, with the rain lashing in we still got wet.
The atmosphere was great with quite a noise coming from the natives who gave us a rendition of You’ll Never Walk Alone. I thought it was only done at Anfield and Celtic Park? What was interesting is that you can see what Arsenal have taken from the Bundesliga (or indeed just Dortmund) in replicating their atmosphere. The walk in music and the large flags behind the goal were very reminiscent of the new Emirates atmosphere.
As for the game, the first half was predictably tight with just a couple of half chances for Dortmund. Defensively we looked sound but at half time I told my dad that I simply could not see us scoring from open play. All the balls to Giroud were hard to take and he had 2 players around him all the time. Our attacking midfield played quite deep so any scraps Giroud did get he had no real outlet. Dortmund’s tactics were interesting and had clearly marked Gibbs out as our weak defensive player. Every attack they pinged over to our left. Gibbs held strong all game so hats off to him.
The second half (with Arsenal now attacking towards us) was very similar to the first, but all of a sudden, our first good move of the game saw an Ozil/Giroud combo for Aaron to pop up and nod home right in front of us.
Cue a red and white pandemonium behind the goal. Unfortunately it was a tinged with an element of un-enjoyment because as we scored there was a huge surge of Arsenal fans pushing forward (remembering we were all standing) and a wave threatened to wash me and my dad away into the concrete sea in front of us. Fortunately I held strong and managed to hold him too. Don’t worry, we still enjoyed scoring, but for me it is clear that standing, even safe standing, is still dangerous. I get it that it creates atmosphere but it is still dangerous and a lot of thought needs to go in to it before it is to be re-instated into British football.
Anyway, it was still great. Dortmund caught some wind in their sails and pushed us for the next 10mins after we scored, but we held strong and Rambo had another chance to score. Ozil, with the shackles loosening by the Dortmund defence started to enjoy himself.
However, it was a defence that needs to take some real credit and their coach, Stevie Bould. It was like witnessing our famous Back Four again. Strong, positionally astute and no messing. Sagna, Metersecker, Kos and Gibbs, all take a bow. A great defensive performance. Arteta too had another great game at DM and Flamini may find it hard to come straight back in. Rosicky provided the midfield drive we needed and overall it was a professional and accomplished performance.
1-0 to The Arsenal was lovely to see again.
The group now is in our hands and a win against Marseille with Napoli and Dortmund to play each other guarantees qualification. Ideally we either want a draw or a Dortmund win to help our journey to being group winners.
It was a great trip and I was so glad we did it, win lose or draw. Much better though when it is a win against arguably the second best team in Europe. 3 tests in a week, 2 exceptional passes. 1 to go and we can’t go into it with any higher confidence.
(thanks @Squevvles and @SianyMacalarny for the photo!)