Bundesliga league-leaders Borussia Dortmund will be wondering how they did not see off rivals Schalke in this evening's Ruhrpott derby at Signal Iduna Park.
After Dortmund's 3-0 win Schalke earlier in the season, Felix Magath and Schalke would have been eager to regain some pride but it was always going to be difficult with BVB in superb form this campaign. Jurgen Klopp's young side were hoping to increase their 11-point gap over Bayer Leverkusen and their opponents were looking to pull away from the 7 teams seperated by just 4 points in mid-table.
Even thought it was 0-0, it was a game full of chances and excellent football which was appreciated by the 80,000 fanatical followers inside the stadium. Dortmund started with a fluent 4-2-3-1 formation and their high tempo was rattling their rivals early on. The hosts had two excellent chances in the first 5 minutes with Schalke's Manuel Neuer alert as ever to Dortmund's potent attack.
Teenage sensation Mario Gotze should have done much better with his oppertunity on 3 mintues when his low finish was saved by the feet of Neuer. Polish wide-player Jakub Blasczykowski found space in behind Schmitz but when up against Neuer, the German number one came out on top with a fine block. Mats Hummels was next to test Neuer from close range and even a second attempt from Blasczykowski could not beat Neuer who was in sensational form this evening.
The young Dortmund side tonight had an average age of 23 and were very impressive again tonight. Klopp stuck with his 4-2-3-1 formation which was much more fluent than first expected. Dortmund created great width through Schmelzer and Piszczek when on the ball with their starting wide-players Großkreutz and Blasczykowski happy to drift inside which allowed Gotze to almost play like a second-striker at times.
18-year-old Gotze was excellent and the German international is quickly filling the void of Shinji Kagawa who will be out for the rest of the season. It boasts well for the German national team when youngsters like Gotze look as if they have played the game for decades with such intelligence on and off the ball.
Captain Nuri Sahin was crucial to the tempo of the game. Sahin was capable of increasing the tempo in the early stages with some excellent short passing between him, Gotze and Kuba creating enough space to make oppertunities. After the first 20 minutes, Sahin was more of a deep playmaker and dropped deep enough to take the ball from Hummels and Santana before moving it on to Bender or Gotze in more advanced positions.
The home side's domination continued in the second-half with Paraguyan striker Lucas Barrios striking the post on 55 minutes and the visitors almost punished Dortmund's poor finishing with Jefferson Farfan firing over the bar just a minute later. Manuel Neuer was involved again with a stunning piece of goalkeeping when he ran out to 35 yards from his goal to clear the danger and he quickly got back to his line to comfortably save Gotze's attempt from the halfway line.
A small glimpse of goal for Jurado could not open the scoring as Dortmund struggled to maintain the pace of the first-half. However, Gotze had the best chance of the match when he rounded Neuer with some neat footwork and his effort hit the post when it looked easier to score. Lewandowski came on as a late substitute and his shot was just past the right-hand post.
Even the teenage sensation of Schalke Julien Draxler could not make a late impact in the game following a dream debut in the Cup victory last week.
On another day, it could have been a night for Felix Magath and Schalke to forget ...