It wasn’t pleasant, and perhaps it was not conducted in an old vintage Borussia Dortmund style, but everyone wearing the iconic yellow and black colours, whether this be the players, the technical staff or indeed the travelling away fans, would have left the BayArena with their heads held high this weekend.
Dortmund are still bottom of the Bundesliga and perhaps they didn’t do too much to convince the world of football that they have returned to their old plucky selves, but the most important thing is that they didn’t lose.
The result's importance
If they had lost to a Leverkusen side who themselves are turning heads this campaign, albeit for all the right reasons then things would have looked gloomier than the city of Dortmund normally looks at this time of the year.
Actually scrap that. If they had secured their eleventh league defeat of the season yesterday then club chairman Hans-Joachim Watzke and everyone in the board would have been running around their offices today as if the Wall Street crash had replicated itself.
As was noted on Friday, Saturday’s game was a matter of life and death for Dortmund. Fortunately enough for the eight-time Bundesliga winners, their relegation coffin was spared of the final nail and the subsequent funeral procession.
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Avoiding the drop
Just like always they have defender Mats Hummels, whose heroic goal-line clearance in the opening 45 minutes spared the club from smashing into a million pieces, to thank.
Indeed, Hummels’s dramatic clearance perhaps stands for what Dortmund as a team and as a club are trying to stand for as they bid to avoid relegation. Determination, willpower, fight and energy are just some of the words that currently spring to mind.
When eleven disgruntled looking men wearing their tight yellow and black jerseys lethargically trudged off the pitch having lost 2-1 to fellow strugglers Werder Bremen, the Germany international was less than shy when telling reporters that the club needed a miracle to stay in the league.
However, just three weeks later and leaning back in a comfortable deck chair at the club’s winter training camp in southern Spain, Hummels, just as if the first-half to the 2014-15 Bundesliga campaign hadn't happened, said that his team still had a chance of finishing in the top four.
Indeed, it was as if the 26-year-old started a trend where literally everyone related to the club stated that things had changed and that they were ready to mark 2015 by going out all guns blazing.
Perhaps they didn’t go that against Leverkusen, but there were glimpses of the old and much loved Dortmund emerging through cracks in the wall with attacking duo Marco Reus and Ciro Immobile looking hungrier than ever.
On the other hand these were only a few positives, and it is fair to say that Dortmund were somewhat fortunate to escape with a valuable point, with the team’s chemistry and defence still lacking the usually present edge.
Their passing was wayward and their play was static, indicators as if Dortmund had taken the form of an amateur team who against all odds were able to draw Leverkusen in the German Cup, and were told to defend until they had reached the lottery of penalty kicks.
Although, who could quite possibly blame their timid demeanour, when a solitary point would have ensured that they had the tiniest glimmer of hope to play with. If they had lost then what would have made their next game at home to FC Augsburg any different.
Everyone knows that Dortmund’s squad oozes with enough quality to match that of Bayern Munich, but the only ingredient which is currently missing from their celebratory cake of league survival is confidence and camaraderie.
The winter arrival of Kevin Kampl from Austrian side Red Bull Salzburg has also lifted spirits around the club with his cheeky grin and determined attitude ensuring that the future looks more golden then grey, and I’m not just talking about his radiant haircut or magnum skills either.
However, it is not only the Slovenian’s jokes that are going a long way to bring the good times back to the club, but there is a real air of determination and belief that Dortmund are rekindling their old form which used to make them feared throughout Germany and indeed Europe.
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