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Saturday, April 21, 2012

Dortmund Secure Bundesliga Title!

Dortmund celebrate their 2nd consecutive

Dortmund Clinch Title In Front Of Home Fans As They Defeat Borussia Moenchengladbach 2-0

Despite a young squad and the absence of their best player, Mario Gotze, for the second half of the season, Borussia Dortmund clinched the Bundesliga title for the second consecutive season at home as they defeated Borussia Moenchengladbach 2-0. Dortmund needed the full three points for the title while Gladbach needed just a point to secure Champions League playoffs but their point would have to come from a later fixture as the black and yellow side celebrated finishing on top ahead of Bayern Munich.

The visitors, Gladbach, were quickly on the defense as the home side pressed them hard, looking to snatch an early goal. Much of the play went on in Gladbach's half of the pitch. Dortmund played a dominant and possessive style of football, incorporating an impressive passing completion rate with well-placed long balls up to their leading goalscorer, Lewandowski.

In the fourth minute Dortmund were almost blessed with a free assist from the Gladbach defense when a back pass intended for the keeper almost dropped to Lewandowski's feet but the keeper was quick off his line and the danger was averted. Two minutes later, the home side felt that they had a penalty appeal when Kagawa was seemingly barreled over in the box, but the ref gave the Gladbach defense the benefit of the doubt, and video reply showed that he made the correct decision. Kagawa backed right into the center back and went down fairly easily.

Dortmund were dominating but were conceding lots of tactical fouls in the midfield as Gladbach tried to build an attack. They were willing to play physically to keep the ball out of their own half. Backed by the loud singing of the BVB fans, many of whom were already celebrating as if they had won, the home side pressured fast and hard and didn't fatigue. With eight minutes gone, Gladbach had their first look at goal, but their number 11, German striker Marco Rues, was called offsides. He was barely off and the Gladbach players believed they had been robbed of a goalscoring opportunity.

Dortmund were the ones to create the most chances on goal, however, and the visitor's defense was kept on their toes. Good saves from Stegen the Gladbach number one, kept the ball out of the back of the net as well as some brilliant slide tackles from the entire Gladbach back line. By the 15th minute, the speed of play was starting to slow down as the quick pace of the game and the high pressure was clearly not working for Dortmund. The home side and reigning champions settled into a slower rhythm of passing, slowly working the ball up to try and penetrate a sleeping Gladbach defense. With some quick one-two play down the wing, Dortmund forced a foul from the Gladbach wingers. A well-taken free kick from Schmelzer in the 22nd minute worked it's way into the box where Perisic met it to score his 6th header of the season and a crucial goal for the home side. The crowd erupted in cheers which surely activated seismographs in the surrounding areas as Dortmund were one goal closer to clinching their second consecutive Bundesliga title.

The home side then settled into playing one-touch around Gladbach, remaining the dominant side for the rest of the first 45 minutes. One of their better chances before the half came from Lewandowski as he tried to get on the end of a through ball, forcing a last-minute tackle from the Gladbach defense and a corner kick. The corner was well defended, but Dortmund were rapidly back on the attack, Stegen forced to come off of his line quickly to beat Lewandowski to another through ball. In the 41st minute, Kagawa struck the post as he tried to place a corner kick in the back corner. He had the arms of Stegen beat, but not the woodwork. The ball was not cleared by the Gladbach defense and was put back into play but the Dortmund attack, but the visitors eventually dealt with it, keeping the damage done before halftime minimal. At the end of the first 45, Dortmund had the 1-0 lead and as it stood, were set to be the Champions of Germany yet again.

Coming in to the second half, Dortmund created the first chance at goal. The shot rolled harmlessly past the posts, but the home side were making it clear that they were seeking another goal to further cement their first place finish. By the 47th minute, Kagawa was already prowling for a goal, earning himself an offsides call. Dortmund continued to press hard, using smart passing and penetrating through-balls but Gladbach demonstrated impressive defensive discipline despite being scattered from their flat-back-four formation on multiple occasions.

In the 53rd minute, Gladbach nearly went level when Reus broke through the Dortmund defense with a cheeky flick over the head of the two centerbacks. His effort was snuffed by the goalie, but the skill was impressive and showed that the Dortmund defense had it's weak spots. The home side continued to rely on their possessive play to keep Gladbach away from their back line and were able to apply the pressure themselves. In the 58th minute, Gladbach took a weak free kick and were caught on the counter-attack. Kagawa got on the end of a fantastic through ball from the Dortmund midfield and calmly touched the ball past Stegen, placing it well at the far post and putting Dortmund up 2-0.

Dortmund continued to press, but Gladbach were not giving up the fight, hoping to secure their Champions League play-off spot sooner rather than later. Gladbach made the first substitution of the match, sacrificing Alexander Ring for the attacking midfield player Patrick Hermann. The substitution would be ineffective in the end, as Gladbach were unable to score and Dortmund continued to take shot after shot on their goal. In the 73rd minute, the home fans were elated to welcome back their start midfield prodigy, Mario Gotze as he made his return from injury. Gladbach took advantage of the new lineup for the opposition and were able to get some quality attacks in before Dortmund went back to their possessive play up through the end of the match.

As the final whistle sounded, the Dortmund bench cleared to celebrate their victory and celebrate winning their second consecutive title. Gladbach will need to seek the point they need to secure their Champions League playoff spot when they face off against FC Augsburg next weekend. Dortmund can enjoy automatic seeding into group stage play of the UEFA Champions League next season and enjoy the rest of their league fixtures. They still have their eyes set on the double as they face off against Bayern Munich in the German Cup final on May 12th.

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