Sinsheim - Although Borussia Dortmund could only draw 1-1 with TSG 1899 Hoffenheim on Wednesday night, die Schwarz-Gelben had sufficient reason to celebrate when the final whistle blew at the WIRSOL Rhein-Neckar Arena.
Still unbeaten under Thomas Tuchel, BVB already have more points on the board after six matches than they managed over the course of the entire Hinrunde last season. Not only that, but they also have a Bundesliga milestone man in their ranks in the form of insatiable Gabonese forward Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
Six matches and counting
Netting a 55th-minute equaliser, Aubameyang became the first player in Bundesliga history to score at least one goal in each of the first six games of the season. In doing so, the 26-year-old ensured the Yellow-Blacks came away from Sinsheim with a deserved point, even though it could easily have been so much more.
"It was a shame we only managed a 1-1 draw," admitted Gonzalo Castro after laying on Aubameyang’s historic strike with a superb assist. "We created enough chances to win the game. We shouldn't have conceded the goal we did before half time. In the first half we didn't really have a proper grip on the match, but afterwards it was much, much better."
'Our response was good'
Castro himself was guilty of spurning a glorious opening to win it for BVB and even the red-hot Aubameyang had chances to add to his haul. In fact, the Gabon international - scorer of nine goals in his last eight Bundesliga outings stretching back to 2014/15 - weighed in with more shots on goal (six) than any other player on the pitch. "Even though we created some chances in the second half, we weren't able to take them," bemoaned 20-year-old midfielder Julian Weigl. "That was the crux of the matter."
Chance conversion was a major bugbear for Dortmund in Jürgen Klopp’s final season in charge, but while Tuchel’s men failed to make the most of their ample scoring opportunities against Hoffenheim, there was no sign of the panic-stricken, error-strewn passing game that plagued their efforts last term. Instead, it was simply a below-par first half that almost cost them a maiden defeat of the campaign.
"Poor first half, good second one," said Ilkay Gündogan bluntly. "There was a lot missing in our game before the break, we hardly managed to string together any good passes and allowed Hoffenheim to get the better of the tackles. And then when you go in at half time 1-0 down too, it's obviously difficult. But our response in the second period was really good."
It is no coincidence Dortmund equalised within a minute of Gündogan’s second-half introduction. The Germany international helped his side assume their customary control of midfield, while piecing together a number of promising forays into Hoffenheim territory. With the fixtures coming think and fast, however, even the very best need time to regroup.
"I didn’t make changes based on performances," Tuchel said of his decision to leave Gündogan and Henrikh Mkhitaryan out of the starting line-up. "On the contrary. They’ve both played lots of matches recently - for their national teams too."
Dortmund will do it all again when promoted SV Darmstadt 98 come to town on Sunday evening. Four days after that they head to Greece to take on PAOK in the UEFA Europa League, before locking horns with Bundesliga leaders and defending champions FC Bayern München in the current campaign’s first instalment of der Klassiker. Tired legs notwithstanding, that is one game no one will want to miss.