Mainz - It may have been somewhat surreal for Borussia Dortmund head coach Thomas Tuchel, but returning to his former stomping ground at 1. FSV Mainz 05 proved to be an overwhelmingly positive experience.
At first Tuchel tried to play down his first homecoming to the club he guided to unprecedented heights during his five-year tenure, but did admit “It was definitely a different feeling than usual,” following BVB’s 2-0 win under the Friday night lights.
‘It all felt very strange’
“I had never been in the underground car park and I had never stood on the right hand side of the touchline,” the 42-year-old continued. “It was a special experience and for a while it all felt very strange.” Bizarre as it may have been though, it was far from an awkward reunion. “Lots of people were pleased to see me in the same way I was to see them. However, in no way do I take more delight from this victory than I do from others.”
How important beating a well-oiled Mainz side was for Dortmund’s self-confidence is hard to quantify, but Tuchel didn’t shy away from the topic. “You could tell that the three draws - including the one in the Europa League - and the heavy 5-1 defeat in Munich had taken away some of our confidence,” admitted the BVB boss. “What delights me is that we accepted things as they were and didn't show any uneasiness with the way the match was going.”
Praise for Reus
Instead die Schwarz-Gelben put in a focused and determined shift, forcing Mainz into making individual errors - two of which produced the breakthroughs BVB needed to see off the match. Niko Bungert’s misplaced pass led to a classic BVB goal as the speed of thought and movement from Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang allowed Marco Reus to score the opener.
In the closing stages Daniel Brosinski was the guilty party as Mkhitaryan made it 2-0, but it was Reus, who despite missing a second-half penalty, received special praise from Tuchel for responding to recent criticism. “It was a positive experience that no pep talk can match for a striker,” said Tuchel. “I was absolutely delighted for him and also with the fact that his goal helped us to get the win. It means that the penalty he missed is virtually insignificant.”
‘First step in the right direction’
It would have been an unwanted talking point that could have taken the gloss off a strong, if not spectacular, Dortmund performance. Yet as Tuchel put it, “now we have a nice talking point: Marco broke the deadlock for us tonight and set us on the path to victory."
Much had been made of Reus' form coming into the match, and after the game the player himself admitted to BVBtotal! that his spot-kick was “a poor shot”. However, he was nevertheless keen to focus on the positives: “In the past we might not have won a game like this and today we didn’t play well at all. We know that we have to improve a lot in order to get back to where we were before. Our game will come back to us gradually. It’s the first step in the right direction."