Just not enough. Mathematically Dortmund is still alive, and the remaining games home against Fortuna Dusseldorf and in Gladbach for Borussia Moenchengladbach aren’t nearly as tough as on the road at Bremen. Additionally, Bayern’s two remaining games on the road at Leipzig and home to Frankfort are far tougher, especially where Frankfort is likely still in a battle for the final Champion’s League spot.
Bremen is a competitive team in the league this year. Bremen was also on a run of 8 consecutive home games without a loss. They shored up the defense that was so porous a few years ago, and with young stars like Milot Rashica and Max Eggestein not to mention veteran Max Kruse are extremely dangerous on the counter. In fact, Dortmund seriously pursued Eggestein before he recently signed an extension with Bremen, and he was already named to the national team at just 22. Rashica is right there with Lewandowski as top gun in the second half of the season and has some serious speed. Add in the suspensions to Marco Reus and Marius Wolf, and Dortmund fans were more than cautious about the chances of coming away with 3 points.
But, Dortmund had all the momentum from the opening kick. A finally healthy Christian Pulisic was at top gear racing at the Bremen defense from the very start. Pulisic’s breakthrough came only 6 minutes in when he was provided the ball running at full speed in the middle of the field and simply ran right through several Bremen midfielders and a couple of defenders. He created a chance being one-on-one with the excellent Pavlinka in Bremen goal, but just easily slotted it in goal. It was Pulisic at his best and what Chelsea fans hope to see plenty of next season. He nearly doubled his goals in the first half with a shot that required a World Class save from Pavlinka. Finally, Bremen just knocked him off his feet just in front of the 18 yard box. Alcacer, then, hit a spectacular free kick with authority that bent over the top of the line and down into box. No opportunity for Pavelinka to stop that, it was simply one of the best free kicks of the season.
Up 2-0 at the half, Dortmund fans could breathe a little. However, Rashica had looked extremely dangerous for Bremen, and Dortmund has gone to sleep with a lead in the second half on more than one occasion this season. When they find themselves organizing deep in their own third, it has created a lot of problems for Dortmund. Meanwhile, they simply weren’t creating any pressure on the Bremen goal. The foot was off the gas, and it wasn’t clear they were going to be able to push it back down.
Dortmund might have escaped 2-0, but a goaltending blunder of all blunders opened the door for the Bremen comeback. It was a simple hit by Moehwald right at Burki. Burki was outstanding all season and had very few of those unexpected mistakes that plagued him in past seasons. But he hadn’t had to do much against Bremen, and he flubbed it when he finally did. He put out his arms, whiffed on the ball and it went right between his legs and into goal. A routine save he had made a billion times, but he seemed to be caught unprepared and threw Bremen a lifeline.
From there it just seemed inevitable as the crowd sprang back to life and the noise and energy shook Weser Stadion to its core. And it didn’t take long until a misplayed clearance by Akjani, playing out of positions as a right back for the suspended Wolf and injured Piszczek and Hakimi, errantly created an opportunity for veteran Claudio Pizzaro to add to his amazing multi-decade goal total in the Bundesliga (second only to Lewandowski in total league goals for a foreign player). Bremen thought it could even be a miraculous 3-2 win for a brief moment when a corner deflected up and hit Goetze’s arm near the end of the game. But, VAR confirmed that the ball deflected off Goetze’s thigh before it hit his arm, so no handball. And, though, neither team was happy with a draw, with Dortmund theoretically still competing for the title and Bremen in contention for a European spot, it was all that either could muster. Disappointment for everyone involved, and Dortmund remain mathematically alive but looking far from a contender.
As the end of the season approaches with 2 games left, so too do the rumors. It seems all but inevitable now that BMG and Dortmund reach an agreement over the transfer of Thorgan Hazard, and the name Nico Schulz continues to be mentioned, though no confirmation from Hoffenheim of any interest in selling the player that was the top performing left side player in the league this season. A recent rumor that Julian Brandt’s father met with Dortmund recently is probably more wishful thinking than reality, but would be a phenomenal move if it were to come true.