Borussia Dortmund dropped two points away to Hannover in a dull scoreless draw on Friday night. The league leaders were hopeful to remain perfect in their second match ahead of the international break but were denied by the woodwork twice in a match that saw otherwise very little action in front of both goals.
It's a point BVB will have to live with, as their new-look side is still growing together. Lucien Favre's men put a strong focus on keeping their own defence tidy in contrast to Dortmund's last visit to the HDI Arena where they were killed on the counter-attack in a 4-2 defeat.
Around the half-hour mark, Favre's men gained control, closing in on the 96ers. Marco Reus had BVB's best chances on his foot in the 39th and 41st minute alone in front of Michael Esser. In the first instance, the Hannover keeper steered the ball around the post with an extended foot, two minutes later Reus smacked the bar.
However, on the last day of summer, there were not too many rays of light left in the second half. Maximilian Philipp's header hit the post in the 59th minute but it was not enough to deserve all three points.
If there is one big change to last season, it is tactical discipline. The match was not a crowd pleaser but BVB were not caught on the break as they had been in the previous year. Hannover struggled to create meaningful chances in 90 minutes. Dortmund's faithful may have get used to Favre's "defence first" mentality.
Yawn. As enticing as a tactical battle can be, the fans from the Ruhr Valley want to see fireworks. It may be unrealistic for Dortmund to be firing on all cylinders after a summer of upheaval, however, with the attacking potential in the team, there is more attacking potential to show. United States international Christian Pulisic was missing due to muscular problems and the guests were lacking his explosiveness on the right side on Friday night.
Manager rating out of 10
4 -- With the likes of Jadon Sancho, Mario Gotze, Julian Weigl and Raphael Guerreiro on the bench, the Swiss coach had options many coaches would be envious of. That being said, Favre only made two substitutions in the final 10 minutes. Very risk averse.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Roman Burki, 5 -- Let's make it short: Hannover had zero shots on target, Burki had no target man up front for his punts. Nothing to see here.
DF Lukasz Piszczek, 5 -- The Pole did not look out of sorts as much as he did against Leipzig.
DF Manuel Akanji, 6 -- The Swiss international is a very promising centre-half but cannot belie his youth at all times. He had a few wobbles on the ball but nothing too troubling.
DF Abdou Diallo, 7 -- The Frenchman is slowly but surely emerging as Dortmund's very deep-lying playmaker. Diallo uses his technique to skip past opponents and his passing technique to create attacking momentum for his side.
DF Marcel Schmelzer, 5 -- As Hannover played with five defenders, Schmelzer did not find the space to run into as he did against Leipzig and thus made fewer advances.
MF Thomas Delaney, 5 -- Made a vital block as Waldemar Anton was ready to volley home a corner in the 77th minute. While the Danish international made life hard for Hannover's attack, he also did the same for his own.
MF Axel Witsel, 6 -- The Belgian was once again imposing in midfield, winning a lot of balls and occasionally skipping past opponents with a simple shimmy.
MF Mahmoud Dahoud, 7 -- The playmaker was almost exclusively Dortmund's source of magic. He should have entered the team bus with another assist to his tally but Reus only hit the post.
FW Marius Wolf, 6 -- Favre opted for the defensively solid option over Sancho in the wake of Pulisic. Wolf made a lot of vital runs in defence and often turns his head to make sure opponents do not sneak away from him. It was, however, too little on the offence.
FW Maximilian Philipp, 6 -- Philipp collided heads with Anton around the hour-mark and stayed on the ground. He looked out of it afterwards but continued to play anyway. While the NFL makes progress in tackling -- no pun intended -- the risk of long-term brain damage, Bundesliga teams act extremely careless. When the forward left the field, it was due to a tactical switch 10 minutes before the final whistle. Concussion protocol needed!
FW Marco Reus, 6 -- The Dortmund captain had two golden chances on his foot and narrowly missed both. The 29-year-old might have been on the end of more opportunities but he botched a lot of promising counter-attacks due to heavy touches.
MF Jadon Sancho, NR -- Managed to have one key pass in his 10-minute runout but the Englishman did not find a way to break down Hannover's well-organised defence as neither team was pushing hard for a winner.
MF Raphael Guerreiro, NR -- With five minutes on the clock, the Portuguese international entered the pitch for Dahoud but couldn't create any late danger during a scrappy final minutes.