Dortmund, Germany -- It was an odd vibe in the Westfalenstadion as the famous Yellow Wall remained a grey one on Saturday in Borussia Dortmund's 3-0 win over VfL Wolfsburg, due to the exclusion of 25,000 Dortmund fans who usually sit in the South Stand. The German FA issued the ban for repeated misconduct by Dortmund fans, who attacked Leipzig fans outside of the Westfalenstadion on February 4.
Despite all the talk about the empty stand, there were also 90 minutes of football to be played. VfL Wolfsburg, however, didn't get the memo, showing what can only be described as a complete non-performance.
56,906 visitors saw a lively Dortmund that eventually finished off their barrage of chances. As Eintracht Frankfurt lost at home to FC Ingolstadt, the Ruhr Side reclaimed third place, which will give club officials some more comfort when looking at the table. Not enough for the team to allow themselves another "away" performance.
Thomas Tuchel will be happy with his team's defensive performance. The centre-back partnership of Marc Bartra and Matthias Ginter has caused the Dortmund manager some sleepless nights before, but against Wolfsburg it looked more promising -- that might be down to Wolfsburg's lack of attacking threat, however.
Some 24,454 fans did not get to enjoy the game from inside the stadium. Otherwise it was a well-rounded afternoon for the Black and Yellows with only Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang once again making life hard for himself.
Manager rating out of 10
6 -- Resorted to a back four with his best centre-back unavailable. This time his team didn't have any motivational problems.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Roman Burki, 5 -- If this were a nine-to-five office job, Burki would have spent most of his time on social media or picking out a birthday gift for his significant other. There just wasn't much to do
DF Lukasz Piszczek, 9 -- The man of the match with two "assists" (one for shooting the ball against Jeffrey Bruma, who ricocheted it into his own net) and one goal. Piszczek has set a personal best with five league goals in a Bundesliga season.
DF Matthias Ginter, 6 -- Good timing, good positioning, calm and without any trouble.
DF Marc Bartra, 7 -- Marc Bartra has left a patch of bad form behind him, showing that he can be a very attentive centre-back with great forward anticipation.
DF Marcel Schmelzer, 6 -- Business as usual by the captain. A solid performance.
MF Julian Weigl, 7 -- Weigl told ESPN FC after the 1-0 loss in Lisbon that he doesn't mind the space he is awarded in Portugal as both Benfica and Sporting left the holding midfielder wide open. He had similar freedom awarded by the Wolves on Saturday.
MF Andre Schurrle, 4 -- Playing as a right wing-back, Schurrle was the odd one sticking out. He did not have a good game.
MF Gonzalo Castro, 7 -- Castro usually impresses in preseason friendlies only to drop off in competitive games. Since this match had the pace of a preseason friendly, courtesy of Wolfsburg, Castro had one of his better games.
MF Ousmane Dembele, 8 -- Showed his playmaking skills and even scored a header. The whiz kid was subbed off in the 73rd minute by Shinji Kagawa.
FW Marco Reus, 7 -- A mean and lean gegenpressing machine. Marco Reus received a standing ovation when he was subbed off after 67 minutes. The 27-year-old's work rate is impressive to say the least, as he so often wins the ball in promising chances. A player every coach likes to see, as he also holds up the defensive end of the bargain.
FW Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, 4 -- Another awkward game for Aubameyang not to be on the scoresheet. The chances were there. Eventually, they will go in.
MF Christian Pulisic, 6 -- His hands slowly wandered to his head to bury his face in shame after missing an open net with a header from 10 yards out.
MF Shinji Kagawa, NR -- Introduced in the 73rd minute, the Japanese midfielder showed that he can be an option for Tuchel at any given time. That being said, he lacked just a whiff of sharpness to cough up a couple more key passes.
MF Mikel Merino, NR -- The Spaniard with a seldom runout, looked composed in the spare nine minutes he received from Tuchel.