Frings's Darmstadt inflicts Bundesliga's biggest shock on Dortmund
The law of the ex still works, it seems.
In one of the biggest shocks of the Bundesliga season, bottom side Darmstadt avenged its 6-0 defeat earlier in the season and beat Borussia Dortmund 2-1. It was Darmstadt’s first win since October, a run going back 12 matches and three coaches. In charge for this one was new boss Torsten Frings, once of Dortmund; this was his first top-flight win as a coach. And it was deserved.
Jan Rosenthal had hit the post before an ex-Dortmund player, U.S. striker Terrence Boyd opened the scoring from close range. It was Boyd’s first top-flight goal as well, coming just a few weeks after moving from RB Leipzig to the basement side.
Even after Raphael Guerreiro equalized for an under-strength Dortmund, which had a bench containing Marc Bartra, Ousmane Dembélé, Andre Schürrle, Shinji Kagawa and Gonzalo Castro, the visitor did not look like getting a winner.
Instead, Sidney Sam set up substitute Antonio-Mirko Colak who scored the winner. Darmstadt is four points from safety but the next two games, against relegation-threatened Augsburg and Werder Bremen–another one of Frings’s former clubs–could help its case. Boyd was born in Bremen and said on joining that it was an honor to play for Frings, who worked with the Bremen youth team and then as an assistant coach. Darmstadt sacked Norbert Meier in December and his temporary replacement, Ramon Brendroth, lost all three of his games in charge. Perhaps Frings, as the third choice, is the charm.
“Frings is a person who embodies directness and authenticity," Darmstadt president Rudiger Fritsch said amid his appointment. “He has the will and passion, which are precisely the characteristics that Darmstadt thrive on.”
The result puts more pressure on Frings’s opposite number, Thomas Tuchel, who was resting players ahead of Tuesday’s Champions League last-16 first leg at Benfica. He was criticized (“It was a wrong experiment,” wrote Bild) for picking Emre Mor, who set up the goal on his first start for three months, and giving a debut to Dzenis Burnic.
Dortmund is still eight points behind RB Leipzig, which was another surprise loser, at Hamburg; but with the mood tense at the club, Tuchel’s future could there depend on a run deep in the Champions League.