Cup triumph followed by Champions League qualification

Borussia Dortmund have rounded off a perfect week – to qualify for the UEFA Champions League for the 16th time!

Borussia Dortmund have rounded off a perfect week – in which they lifted the DFB-Pokal for the fifth time in their history three days ago – by beating 1. FSV Mainz 05 3-1 (2-0) away from home to qualify for the UEFA Champions League for the 16th time!

Boris Rupert reporting from Mainz

Raphael Guerreiro and Marco Reus put the Black & Yellows on course for the Champions League before the break with goals in the 23rd and 42nd minute respectively. After a downpour that delayed the start to the second half, the hosts tried to carve out a route back into the game – only for substitute Julian Brandt to net at the other end in the 80th minute to make it 3-0 and seal the win. Mainz got on the scoresheet in stoppage time via a Robin Quaison penalty (90+1).

The scenario:
Thirteenth-placed Mainz had their Bundesliga survival confirmed after the Saturday fixtures, while Borussia had the chance to wrap up fourth place following Frankfurt’s defeat in Gelsenkirchen and – temporarily, at least – move past Wolfsburg (up against Leipzig at 20:30 CET) in the table. The hosts went into the game on a nine-match unbeaten run in the league, while BVB had won five consecutive matches. They had taken 13 out of a possible 15 points from their previous five visits to Mainz.

Personnel matters: 
There were two changes to the starting XI that won the cup three days earlier: Reyna and Meunier replaced Can (bench) and Piszczek (muscle problem). Hitz, Morey, Moukoko, Schmelzer, Witsel and Zagadou were all still unavailable.

Mainz went into the game with a 3-3-2-2 formation, though it rarely appeared as such on the pitch as they withdrew into their own half in two banks (5-4-1 system) whenever Dortmund had possession. Reus occupied a deeper position in Borussia’s 4-3-3 system alongside Bellingham, with Reyna (right) and Sancho flanking Haaland.

The match & analysis:
The play in the opening half took place almost exclusively in the middle third of the pitch. The Black & Yellows, who were fully in control of proceedings, registered their first sight of goal in the 17th minute. Reus switched the play out to the right flank and Reyna’s cross was inadequately cleared straight to the feet of Bellingham, but his powerful strike from a centre-right position inside the area was wayward.

Borussia did not inject enough tempo into their play against a deep-lying Mainz side but still managed to take an early lead in the 22nd minute. Da Costa chested Meunier’s cross into the path of Sancho, who gathered the ball on the left of the penalty area before cutting it back to Guerreiro. The Portugal international directed a beautiful curling effort into the far corner from 16 metres. BVB were 1-0 ahead from their first shot at goal. They then had a penalty claim for a Hack handball waved away six minutes later (28).

Dortmund continued to look cautious, with their attempts to open up gaps in the Mainz defence by switching the play proving unsuccessful due to their lack of tempo and passing sharpness. Yet they still managed to add a second goal before the interval. Sancho drove into the box after receiving Guerreiro’s ball on the left and fed Reus, whose tap-in made it 2-0 on the stroke of half-time. It was not undeserved given the shot count (4-1), share of possession (70%) and pass completion stats (90%).

A major storm formed in the skies above the OPEL-Arena at half-time. The substitutes had to end their warm-up prematurely and there was a delay of at least 15 minutes to the start of the second period. The home side took a much more aggressive and bold approach in the second half. On the boggy surface, Bürki kept out Niakhaté’s powerful strike (48) and then did well to save a shot from substitute Quaison from 15 metres out – teed up by Brosinski, who now occupied the right flank. Boetius went centimetres wide with an effort in the 53rd minute, then Bürki made a brilliant stop to deny Latza on the 64-minute mark.

His opposite number Dahmen made a strong stop at the other end to turn Sancho’s curling effort behind for a corner (65). It was an open and fiercely contested encounter by this point, but BVB managed to seal the victory in the 80th minute. Haaland won the ball following Bürki’s long kick downfield and squared it into the path of substitute Brandt, who rounded Dahmen and tapped in for 3-0. Quaison netted from the spot in stoppage time following a handball.

BVB will welcome Bayer 04 Leverkusen to Signal Iduna Park on the final day of the season next Saturday (15:30 CET).

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