Roman Burki, Dortmund come up short at APOEL in costly draw
Borussia Dortmund can wave their hopes to qualify for the round of 16 of the Champions League goodbye after a disastrous performance away to APOEL. A 1-1 draw in Nicosia means that the Black and Yellows only have theoretical chances to catch one of Real Madrid or Tottenham but after Matchday 3 in the Champions League there is nothing to suggest that they would deserve to be among Europe's best 16 teams.
On Tuesday night, there was nothing left of a Dortmund team that has regularly steamrolled their opponents in the Bundesliga. The German side had nothing to offer against a well-organised APOEL, which lined up two banks of four and hoped for the odd mistake from the guests, which sure enough came as Roman Burki passed the ball right into the feet of an opponent. Mickael Pote took advantage as the BVB keeper could not clear his mess to make it 1-0 in the 62nd minute.
Dortmund's centre-back Sokratis Papastathopoulos equalised five minutes later, nodding a header off a corner over the line but the expected onslaught of the guests never followed. Barring a double-chance for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Marc Bartra at the death of the game, the Ruhr side created naught while it was make-or-break. It was BVB's worst performance of the season at the worst possible time -- but given the quality that lies within the team it was simply not good enough from the Bundesliga's league leaders.
Team captain Marcel Schmelzer made his comeback to the starting XI, which was a positive sign for Peter Bosz's team that has to make do without several injured full-backs. After 93 minutes Dortmund can be happy that they grabbed a point with APOEL having the better chances over the final 15 minutes.
Patience was always going to be required against a Cypriot team that put the focus on defensive solidity first, but not once throughout the 90 minutes did Dortmund make the impression that they could break through APOEL's lines. Their attacking play was completely dependent on individual moments as there was not enough movement by BVB players to start a fast-paced combination play.
Dortmund were slow and static going forward and were punished for individual mistakes at the back. Right now, the trend is a negative one for the Westphalians, who will have now to deal with the disappointment of playing in the Europa League after the winter break in all likeliness.
Manager rating out of 10
3 -- Made five changes to the team that lost 3-2 against Leipzig on Saturday night in the Bundesliga. With more footage available, it looks like teams can better adjust to Bosz's plan, whose team looked out of ideas after five minutes.
Player ratings: (1-10; 10=best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Roman Burki, 3 -- Dortmund might have nicked the game with a dirty 1-0 win, but Burki's mistake in the 62nd minute spoiled that chance. He passed the ball right into the foot of Lorenzo Ebecilio who sent a shot right back at the Dortmund keeper. Pote netted the spilled save to see Burki's Champions League campaign go from bad to worse.
DF Marc Bartra, 5 -- Somehow missed an open net with the last kick off the game. The Spaniard started at right-back in order to restore defensive stability after Jeremy Toljan had deprived his coach of confidence with a poor showing against Leipzig.
DF Sokratis Papastathopoulos, 6 -- Shortly brought back hope that his team could still come away with all three points after he had equalised 23 minutes before the end.
DF Omer Toprak, 4 -- Had to be subbed off with what looked like a muscular injury. In the hour beforehand, he took too much time on the ball in order to create any momentum from the back.
DF Marcel Schmelzer, 4 -- Unsurprisingly did not look at 100 percent after being injured for four weeks.
MF Julian Weigl, 3 -- Lacked the forward drive and didn't find his teammates in the half-spaces nor fa lob behind APOEL's backline. Dortmund's slow game had much to do with his distribution.
MF Shinji Kagawa, 3 -- A shot from distance that clanged off the crossbar in the 69th minute remained the Japanese midfielder's only highlight, which was not enough.
MF Mario Gotze, 4 -- Gotze, who was Dortmund's brightest player against Leipzig, showed very little of his spark. He grabbed the assist but did not step up when his team really needed it.
FW Andriy Yarmolenko, 4 -- The Ukrainian only looked like he would be a threat in the first 15 minutes. Afterwards APOEL's defence had him under control.
FW Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, 2 -- Apart from the header in stoppage time that nearly went in, it was a non-performance from the Gabonese striker whose involvement was reduced to a few overhit lay-offs.
FW Christian Pulisic, 5 -- The United States international was the only one regularly running at defenders with pace -- and sometimes beating them. The end product, however, was not enough for Dortmund to create quality scoring chances.
DF Jeremy Toljan, 4 -- With Toprak coming off injured, the 23-year-old was released in the right-back position. But he quickly had to realise that he had very little passing options upfront.
FW Maximilian Philipp, NR -- Replaced a tired Schmelzer in the 73rd minute in order to add more attacking threat. Instead, Dortmund lost balance in their shape and were busy defending APOEL's counter-attacks.
FW Alexander Isak, NR -- Came on for Yarmolenko for the final 10 minutes but could not help his team to grab a late winner.
Stefan Buczko covers Borussia Dortmund for ESPN FC. Twitter: @StefanBuczko.