Champions League: Savior in need: Haller gives BVB hope

Champions League savior in need: Haller gives BVB hope

Sébastien Haller scored the all-important goal for BVB. photo

© Federico Gambarini/dpa

Thanks to the noble joker Sébastien Haller, BVB can still hope for the semi-finals of the Champions League. His goal to make it 1-2 at Atlético Madrid also increases his chances of playing more often.

Sébastien Haller celebrated the end of his goal drought in a rather quiet way. He humbly placed his right hand on his heart and enjoyed the cheers of the Dortmund fans.

After the 1:2 (0:2) in the first quarter-final duel of the Champions League at Atlético Madrid, the BVB coach embraced the game changer. Thanks to his goal (81st minute), hope returned to BVB after a major false start and an initially desolate performance.

“This goal can still be very important. We leave with a good feeling that we can sort this out in the coming week,” commented sports director Sebastian Kehl, hoping for a happy ending in the second leg and Borussia’s first semi-final appearance in the Premier class for eleven years.

Thanks to the nerves of 29-year-old Haller, BVB escaped with a black eye in the seething Estadio Metropolitano. After a nervous start and build-up errors every minute, which led to early goals conceded by Rodrigo de Paul (4th minute) and Samuel Lino (32nd), there was a threat of a first-class attrition. “We started the game very badly. At this level, against an opponent like this, it’s usually game over,” Terzic admitted.

Terzic takes players to task during the break

Similar to the coach, team captain Emre Can also thought he was in the wrong film: “We could have gone under in the first half because they ate us up in the duels.” Midfielder Marcel Sabitzer was no less annoyed by the dominance of the Spaniards, who initially played like they were unleashed: “It shouldn’t happen at this level. It will be punished immediately and could have turned out much worse.”

Terzic’s half-time speech worked wonders. The BVB professionals came out of the dressing room transformed, fought their way back into the game, scored the next goal through Haller and were even responsible for two hits on the crossbar by Jamie Bynoe-Gittens (87th) and Julian Brandt (90th + 6) in the final phase still close to balance. “It was a game with a lot of mixed emotions. Now we have the result that keeps us open,” commented Terzic, who promoted a positive view of things: “Of course the result is not what we wanted. But you don’t have to be ashamed of a 1-2 loss against Atlético.”

It wasn’t just on the pitch that things got busy. Kehl and coach Diego Simeone had a heated argument on the sidelines with Atlético coach Diego Simeone and received a lot of approval, not only online. “You can’t just put up with everything. We know Simeone on the line. If the referee doesn’t intervene, it’s certainly necessary to reprimand him,” said DAZN expert Michael Ballack. “Emotions come together in this situation. It was about resisting today, that was the case in the situation. It was nothing more,” said Kehl.

Haller as the winner

In addition to Brandt, who was also a substitute and who significantly enlivened Dortmund’s game, Haller was the biggest winner among the losers. His goal in the style of a real goalscorer could give him an advantage in the team’s internal battle for a regular place with national striker Niclas Füllkrug, who has been out of form for weeks. Terzic attested to the noble joker’s significant progress: “Sébastien really made the most of the time during the international break. That’s why he deserved this chance – and took advantage of it.”

Already at the Africa Cup at the beginning of the year, the former problem child, who was diagnosed with testicular cancer in the summer of 2022, seemed to be well on the way back to his old class. Haller’s winning goal for the Ivorian national team in the final propelled him back into the spotlight. But a subsequent injury set him back for weeks. “We really regretted that he couldn’t bring the euphoria from the Africa Cup to us. But now things are looking really good for him again,” said Terzic.

The Dortmunders don’t have long to catch their breath. Already on Saturday they want to get back the points in the game in Mönchengladbach that were lost in last weekend’s 0-1 defeat in the Bundesliga against VfB Stuttgart. Otherwise, the fifth-place team is at greater risk of having to make do with the Europa League next year. Terzic believes that Madrid’s inconsistent performance in the Bundesliga finals can help: “We will grow from this game.”




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