There was an additional police presence around Dortmund’s Signal Iduna Park Saturday but the match against Eintracht Frankfurt–the second to be played in the stadium in the five days following the bomb attack on the players’ bus last Tuesday–went off with several positives for the host. If the big question was how the team would respond given a few extra days to process the trauma it went through, it did not take long to find the answer.
Dortmund was ahead after three minutes, with Marco Reus, back in the side after six weeks out, scoring from Christian Pulisic’s cross. Reus only played the first half but he is likely to start Wednesday’s return leg against Monaco. A stunning goal from center back Sokratis Papastathopoulos and a late effort from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang secured a 3-1 win.
“Thomas Tuchel’s side were not restrained or exhausted, which would have been completely understandable, but brave and intense,” wrote local paper Ruhr Nachrichten.
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After the final whistle, the players held up a Marc Bartra jersey in front of the fans and they all chanted the name of the Spanish defender, who was released from hospital earlier that day after suffering an arm injury from the bus attack.
Bartra summed up his feelings in an emotional Instagram post after the attack.
“I think the shock is decreasing more and more and, at the same time, it adds to the desire to live, to fight, to work, to laugh, to cry, to feel, to love, to believe, to play, to train, to continue to enjoy my people, loved ones, companions, my passion, to defend, to smell the grass as I do before the game starts and motivate me,” he wrote. “The only thing I ask is for everyone to live in peace and to leave behind the wars. These days when I look at my wrist, swollen and badly wounded, you know what I feel? Pride. I look at it proudly, thinking all the damage they wanted to do to us on Tuesday stayed in this.”
As time goes by, the feeling that this incident could have been so much worse is filtering through. That nails were found in some of bus headrests makes it astonishing that the injuries were not worse. Tuchel may not be as outwardly emotional as his predecessor, Jurgen Klopp, but he has proved himself an empathetic leader who has spoken honestly about wanting what’s best for his players–even if his messages have shown a disconnect with the BVB board, who agreed to UEFA’s speedy rescheduling of the game. And if it could be possible, these events have brought the fans and players even closer together.