In the first of my weekly column series, I am going to look at what has actually gone right for Borussia Dortmund this season.
On Saturday, Dortmund lost to Freiburg 2-1 in a very dire performance from Die Schwarzgelben. This meant Dortmund have only won one game in their previous five and this adds to their array of problems that have arisen over the course of this season.
Dortmund thought their problems were due to Lucien Favre, so they sacked him. But after a brief pick up in form Dortmund under Eden Terzick, their problems persisted. Fans blamed Roman Burki, but with Marvin Hitz in goal the goals kept flowing in for opposing teams. Best highlighted by Freiburg’s second goal, which Hitz parried in, after Jonathan Schmid tested his luck from a impossible angle.
You could pin the problems on the tactical choices of Terzick and how it has effected the team. Such as the decision to play Julian Brandt (who was used at striker at some points by Favre) in a midfield two next to Thomas Delaney, or to play Emre Can at right back in the game against Freiburg, when they had recognised right backs in Mateu Morey and Lukas Piszczek on the bench, he could of also chosen to play Nico Schulz out of position.
Additionally, you could also say that the squad is too inexperienced and they rely too heavily on youngsters. Which you could argue is true, especially on Saturday when their best players were a 17 year old in Jude Bellingham and a 18 year old in Gio Reyna. Then there was the goal scorer in 16 year old Youssouf Moukoko, as well as the largely ineffective Jadon Sancho and Erling Haland, both 20.
Things are also expected to get worse for Dortmund as they linger in 6th, which would mean missing out on the vast amount of money which comes from qualifying for the Champions League, on top of the 75 million euros they have lost due to COVID-19. This means that they will have to sell one of their top players in Sancho and Haland. With Sancho being the most likely to leave. However, due to Sancho’s early season form, or lack of, it means that Dortmund will get nowhere near the 120 million euros they wanted in the summer for him.
So onto why you red this, what has gone right at Dortmund. Nothing much. The only bright spark in their season has been the performances of their youngsters. Most notably Bellingham and Reyna. Bellingham is probably the player to start next to Delaney right now as he offered a spark that Dortmund were missing against Freiburg, providing driving runs from deep which were not picked out by his teammates. His frustration shown within minute of his cameo where he shouts ‘Fuck off’ with it bellowing around the Schwarzwald-Stadion. But it is not just the Freiburg game. He was one of the better players for Dortmund in their 4-2 lose to Borussia Monchengladbach, albeit Bellingham nearly costed Dortmund a goal, only for VAR to rule it out, but the most notable contribution Bellingham made was a goal saving tackle on Alassane Plea.
While Reyna started the season hot, but has slowly cooled since. There were points in the season where Dortmund would be waining and Reyna would be the match winner for Dortmund, seen in the 4-0 against Freiburg where he got himself a hat-trick of assists, as well as rescuing Dortmund from defeat against Eintracht Frankfurt with a well taken strike and he was also the only bright spark in Dortmund’s embarrassing 5-1 loss to VFL Stuttgart.
I expect this will be the pattern for Dortmund this season, and they will struggle to qualify for the Champions League due to their shaky form and the strength of the teams around them. It is also time for Dortmund to accept that they are no longer the second best team in Germany, and now must fight with more teams for the number 2 position.
- Robert Lewandowski did not score in Bayern Munich’s 1-0 winner over lowly Hertha Berlin. But more surprisingly he missed a penalty. He is still on track to break Gerd Muller’s record, and I expect him to be rested during the Club World Cup
- It hurts to write this, but FC Koln were the better team as they broke Marco Rose’s unbeaten run in the Rhein Derby as they ran out 2-1 winners at Borussia Park. In a poor performance by Gladbach, the only stand out player was Florian Neuhaus in a well changed team for Gladbach. But shoutout to Elvis Rexhbecaj, who had a man of the match performance as he was able to Koln’s two goals.
- This week for Marseille got worse over the weekend, as after the resignation of Andre Villas Boas and the storming of the clubs training ground, they finished the week off with a 2-0 loss to PSG where they provide a very flat performance with only little sparks of action. Boubacar Kamara was the stand out in a poor Marseille team.
- Finally, Mesut Ozil made a appearance off the bench for Fenerbahce, but was unable to impose himself on the game. Fenerbahce drop down to third after a 1-0 loss.