Winter's premature arrival caught southern Germany by surprise this weekend, and, despite the MAGE SOLAR Stadion's undersoil heating system being cranked up to full strength, heavy snowfall made it difficult for both sides to implement their favoured passing game. There was only one thing for it, according to Dortmund's coach Jürgen Klopp. "The ball's got to fly when it can't roll," said the innovative-thinking 45-year-old.
Weather forces change of plans
Kick-and-rush is not really the type of football Klopp usually yearns for from his current Bundesliga champions: "We had a plan, but a good hour before kick-off it became clear that we may as well dump it all," he added, adapting to the conditions.
Similarly, Germany international Ilkay Gündogan, who replaced Sven Bender in defensive midfield after coming on late in the stunning 2-1 win against Real Madrid, explained how the wintry conditions demanded a more pragmatic approach, stressing that "we still wanted to show the best possible BVB style on this pitch."
Subotic and Götze decisive
This, however, didn't quite work out until the second half, after Freiburg had dominated the opening stages. It was only after the teams had changed ends, and thus experienced both defending and attacking the side with most snow, when Dortmund laid claim to deserving the spoils. Klopp felt the right team snatched the three points, claiming that his side were "better in the second half than Freiburg in the first."
As debatable as that might be, Dortmund definitely were superior in terms of exploitation. Fallour Diagne half an hour into the game and Erik Jendrisek near the hour mark wasted glorious opportunities for the hosts, while BVB defender Neven Subotic (54') and midfield starlet Mario Götze (84') demonstrated coolness to rival the temperature to give the Westphalian club a comfortable lead. "Conditions were difficult today," said goalkeeper Roman Weidenfeller, "taking this into account, we did very well."
Dortmund also proved they have the mentality it takes to compete for the Bundesliga title, remaining fully focused on European glory too - an attitude that is anything but surprising to Klopp. "As if we would have ever underestimated Freiburg," he claimed, praising the opponents, "certainly not just after their impressive development lately."
Dortmund face VfB Stuttgart at home on Matchday 10, but have to travel to the south-west of Germany again as they play Bundesliga 2 side VfR Aalen in the second round of the DFB Cup on Tuesday. At least snow is not forecast for that trip.