Ballspielverein Borussia 09 e. V. Dortmund, St. James’ Park
Champions League Group F: Game 3
Wednesday 25th October, 8:00PM
Live on TNT Sports
Current Tale of the Tape:
NUFC sit 6th in the Premiership, BVB are 4th in the Bundesliga.
In Champion’s League Group F:
NUFC 1st, P2, +3 GD, 4 pts.
BVB 4th, P2, -2 GD, 1 point.
Borussia is the Latin word for Prussia, a former European state that comprised much of what today is Germany, Poland, Lithuania and Russia.
We are back under the lights of St. James’ Park facing another European giant, Borussia Dortmund. Our German opponents are on fire in the Bundesliga, but can Eddie Howe’s Magpies change their luck? Nick Clark has your preview for the highly-anticipated Champions League tie…
Following Saturday’s Premiership stroll in the park, Wednesday evening sees the return of Champion’s League fixtures to St James’. It still weirds me out writing this, but in a good way. This time around, it’s German football royalty in the shape of Borussia Dortmund.
When the draw was made, I was desperate for one the Bundesliga sides. I’ve been there on four previous occasions to watch matches* and have loved each visit. Like an estimated 20,000 other Mags, I’m heading across there for the return fixture and lucky enough to have a ticket. Can’t wait.
Our visitors briefly visited the summit of their league on Friday evening, and are currently unbeaten domestically. Just reading that sentence makes Wednesday’s fixture sound a particularly tall order for Eddie and the lads. However, it’s got me questioning, just how strong is the Bundesliga compared to our Premiership? And how good are our yellow-clad opponents?
These are tricky questions to answer. I’m no European football expert, but to take a stab, I’m guessing that our league is the stronger. Bayern basically stroll theirs every year. The Bavarians are clearly in a league of their own, but I don’t reckon they’re in the top 4/5 in the CL. Are the cluster of German teams at the top of the Bundesliga better than us, Liverpool, Arsenal, City etc? I’ve no conclusive proof, but I doubt it.
Also, I watched Dortmund take on Werder Bremen last week and was not greatly impressed. True, they’d seemingly rested a few, but their visitors were poor, and they really struggled to beat them 1-0 in a laboured performance. Apparently, this is a fairly typical Edin Terzić way of playing. Patience and work rate are key. Swashbuckling attacking play, less so.
Looking at their squad: striker, Niclas Füllkrug, is getting a game for his misfiring National team and was last season’s top scorer in the league. At the back, Mats Hummels is still there. A great ball-playing centre-half, but he’s pushing 35 now. Can’t see him enjoying the prospect of Wor Alex running at him. They also have captain, Emre Can (a decent player, once of Liverpool) and Eden Hazard’s brother, Thorgan. Look, they’re no mugs and we’ll have to be on it, but this isn’t like facing the prospect of their exes, Erling and Jude. In my opinion, there’s little to fear for United.
Our current Magpie vintage are simply a joy to behold. The team, whom under Bruce were pretty much bottom of every meaningful football metric (percentage possession, xG etc), are now, in just two short years, currently top of all of them. We have returned to solidity at the back, and going forward, the goals are being shared around, as our threat appears legion, not just down to one or two strikers.
This tie (in particular) brings with it intriguing comparisons off the pitch. I’m talking about the two fanbases. Having been amongst their number a few years back (Hertha Berlin v BVB, @peekeekay’s stag do), I get the impression that BVB have a bit of a Man U type following. I.e. partisan locals and nationwide glory hunters. Like Michael Fassbender’s Lt. Hicox in ‘Inglorious Basterds,’ I’m no student of German dialects, but I fancy there were more than a few Berliners supporting the away side that day in the Olympiastadion.
This particular occasion was somewhat of an ‘eye opener’ to me. I believe the attendance was 70,000+, but easily a quarter of the stadium were wearing yellow. We were surrounded by them, and apart from one meaty fist-fight pre match, everything was particularly (and oddly) harmonious. I’m really hopeful that the Dortmund fans who travel to Tyneside will be less the snarling contemptuousness of the Paris hordes and more the ‘let’s have a few beers and a bit crack with the locals.’ From what I’ve seen of them, I think the latter will be more likely. It would be class to go across there in a fortnight and experience a ‘Bilbao’ type experience.
Moving on to our support, there’s simply nowhere I’d rather be than in my Milburn pew this Wednesday evening. The PSG tie was something to behold, both on and off the pitch. The noise came regularly from all sides, not just the Strawberry Corner. Perhaps Man U 5-0 or Barca 3-2 were similar, but with 20,000 more supporters in SJP compared to those days, I can’t recall it being louder.
A shout out must go to the lads & lasses at @worflags here too. They regularly go above and beyond. I particularly loved their ‘Hello, Hello’ effort last time out. It captured the mood perfectly. It unashamedly shouted, ‘we’re NUFC, and we’ve fucking arrived.’ If you’ve a few quid spare, please give a small donation. As Terry Tesco says, ‘every little helps.’
My newly found confidence is almost giving me a nosebleed. I’m usually a scaredy cat, due to years of Ashley having extinguished any optimism. However, we are currently a force of nature and I fancy us to be too much for our Teutonic friends. I’m therefore plumping for a boisterous SJP and 2-0 to Eddie’s Mags.
Group of Death? Into them, United…
*For those of you who can be bothered….
- Bundesliga. SV Hamburg 3 Bochum 0.
A trip to watch some European footy as NUFC were being all mid-table & that. Mint trip with some of my favourite humans. Germans generally friendly, apart from a couple of cans hoyed our way in an underpass with ‘White Power’ scrawled across the wall. Yikes.
- 2003. CL. Bayer Leverkusen 1 Newcastle United 3
Before this year, the last team we locked horns with in the Champions League. A canny stay in Cologne. And, I recall a visit to the Fruh Brewery; a gothic beer hall with excellent steaks & lager. LuaLua / Shola masterclass with myself & the then Saltwell Mag gleefully watching on.
- 2006 World Cup QF. England 0 Portugal 0 1-3 on pens at Schalke 04’s ground in Gelsenkirchen.
The infamous Ronaldo winking game with Saltwell/Freeman Mag again. I recall Eng-er-lund fans being pricks and it being ridiculously hot. Got grief after the game by some Forest loons. Lush.
- 2016 Hertha Berlin 0 Borussia Dortmund 0
Stag do. Superb trip. Wonderful Stadium & atmosphere. Spent the game following NUFC v West Brom online. Loads of Dortmund fans on Hertha seating. No grief, although I do recall a pagga pre-match. None of your cod Hooly dancing around; proper fist fight.