Dortmund came from behind twice to earn a point at home against Real Madrid, Thomas Tuchel's exciting young side passing their "test of maturity" while learning more valuable lessons.
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The impetuousness of youth. Midway through the first half in Dortmund's UEFA Champions League Group F game against Real Madrid, Ousmane Dembélé demonstrated skill and pace by brushing into the area, fooling the Madrid defence and then just missing the target. Better placed in the box, team-mates Mario Götze and Gonzalo Castro raised their arms in frustration, having waited in vain for a pass from the 19-year-old.
They make mistakes, then, but Thomas Tuchel's Dortmund may well be the most exciting young side in Europe. The likes of Sokratis Papastathopoulos, Gonzalo Castro, captain Marcel Schmelzer and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang represent their mature core, but this is a side determined to give young players a chance. Against Madrid, BVB started with Julian Weigl (21), Dembélé (19), Raphaël Guerreiro (22) and Matthias Ginter (22). In the final 15 minutes, Tuchel brought on 18-year-old Christian Pulišić and 19-year-old Emre Mor and was rewarded with a second equaliser when another substitute, André Schürrle, made it 2-2.
The goal was late in coming but not undeserved. Dortmund enjoyed 59% possession and had 11 shots on target to Madrid's four, misses like Dembélé's perhaps rankling with Aubameyang after the game when he told UEFA.com: "We need to be a bit more efficient with taking our shots and playing the final pass."
Madrid were a menace on the counter, but Dortmund made few concessions to the European champions and stuck to their usual game, though Castro echoed Aubameyang's sentiments when he concluded: "In the end, both teams needed to be a bit more alert to take home all the points."
True enough, but Tuchel can be immensely proud of his side. "It is incredibly difficult to go behind twice – and against such opposition," the coach concluded as he reflected on a match he had billed as a "test of maturity" for his young side. The coach made his name in the academies at Stuttgart and Mainz, where he won a German Under-19 title in 2005, but is taking his youth work to a new level at Dortmund.
He knows his young charges will blunder occasionally but asks them to be brave in their decision-making, even if things do not always work out well. "We wanted to use this opportunity to try ourselves on this level," he said after the Madrid match. "This game helps our confidence and we can learn a lot from it. As a youth coach, you wouldn't dare to dream of a game like this." Young players, meanwhile, can only dream of having a coach as brave and trusting as Tuchel.