The word ‘unpredictability’ associated with football often strikes fear in the minds of players and fans all over the world. You never have an idea about what can transpire after a moment of sheer joy and rejoice. It strikes like lightning and by the time you can recover from the recoil, all that you had strived to conquer would come falling apart right in front of you.
That’s how Borussia Dortmund’s fate has been, at least this season. After ousting Bayern Munich and their hegemony in the Bundesliga in two consecutive seasons back in 2011 and 2012, it seemed as if this tenacious side were destined for further greatness. The exits of prized assets such as Shinji Kagawa, Mario Gotze and Robert Lewandowski although were indicative of something which suggested that they still aren’t touching the level of a ‘powerhouse club’ despite of giving their all. They were among those clubs who proved that if you’ve got the resilience to beat anybody, you can certainly do it. But, again it was just a matter of time before the good times began to be overhauled by the darker ones, which are beginning to haunt the club and it’s fans alike. And even the world ‘darker’ seems to be a weird understatement.
The roller coaster has skidded to a halt and as the Signal Iduna based club languished deep in the dreaded relegation zone, there’s a lot to pondered upon. Gaffer Jurgen Klopp has dubbed these problems as ‘awesome’ and rightly so, it’s been a disastrous season for BVB. Although, they’ve prospered on the European stage but nothing’s going right domestically. And after a 9th defeat of the season at the hands of fellow strugglers Hertha Berlin, the club have sunk to the bowels of the Bundesliga. And a Champions League spot does seem a light years away.
As a top priority encounter at home to Wolfsburg beckons, here are some problems Jurgen Klopp would’ve to tide over.
The Marco Reus transfer rumor mill
The renowned Marco Reus rumor mill does take some stopping but it’s not showing any signs of doing so. Another one of their home grown prized assets, Marco Reus is on the radar of the biggest clubs in the world and the rumor mill is filled with reports linking him to one club or the other.
Although, young Marco is suffering from an ankle injury but there’s a lot of insecurity at the club, especially in the players minds. They know that Dortmund are a ‘selling’ club and the rumors surrounding Reus are giving them a sense of disbelief as to who’s next to leave. It’s having a negative impact on the confidence of many players and to make matters worse, Mats Hummels’ is being allowed a moment of peace. His defensive partner, Neven Subotic has also attracted interest from clubs and all these reports are destroying the feeling of being secure at the club.
And the fact that Reus did reject a new contract some months ago and his release clause was disclosed by Bayern Munich CEO Karl Heinz Rummenigge is not aiding them in their objectives. As a result of all this, the link up of players on the pitch is suffering and all that is contributing to one thing- the demise of Borussia Dortmund.
A defense serving a nominal purpose
The defense, despite of comprising of both Hummels and Subotic has been in tatters. There has been no organization or proper marking in tight areas, which have led to goals. Sometimes, I’ve noticed that BVB defenders are attracted towards the ball rather than the man they’re supposed to keep in check. The graphic below will prove this-
Dortmund’s right back against Hertha- Lukasz Piszczek is caught napping and loses track of Ben Hatira, the Berlin full back and he’s sent clean through on goal. Although, Dortmund were lucky not to concede but it’s an example of defensive frailties. On top of that, Mats Hummels is playing Ben Hatira onside near the centre of the box. Allowing him to run in behind Piszczek and get a shot at goal.
During Dortmund’s 2-0 defeat at Commerzbank Arena against Eintracht Frankfurt, a different problems surfaced.
After going a goal behind after due an Alex Meier goal, the Dortmund defense was caught napping. After what was supposed to be harmless lofted ball by Marc Stendera, the loose ball fell to Mattias Ginter, who wasn’t clear about what to do.
Young Ginter takes a touch off his chest and keeper Roman Wiedenfeller rushed to act as a sweeper and to boot it to safety or into touch. The lack of communication meant that Ginter ended up playing it into no man’s land just behind Wiedenfeller, allowing Swiss star Haris Seferovic to take advantage and score into an empty net.
The Pressing Game, not pressing enough
Jurgen Klopp’s men had earned a reputation for being hard workers and players who never stopped in spite of not being in possession of the ball. They were full of energy to win the ball in dangerous areas and counter as quickly as possible and catch the opposition off guard.
But, this season the pressing game is fading slowly. This graphic below is of Dortmund’s game against Arsenal last season.
Look at how many men they have around the ball. Even left back Marcel Schmelzer is looking to drift in and sniff out any danger.
This season, as the first graphic above shows, the Dortmund players are lured in winning the ball too much, only in vain. And moreover, they still adhere to a pressing game but the pressing isn’t effective enough. They harry and trouble the opposition for the first 30-40 minutes, but fade off as the game wears on.
Lewandowski’s boots too over sized to fill
Both Ciro Immobile and Adrian Ramos were brought in to act as replacements for outgoing hitman Robert Lewandowski from Torino and Hertha Berlin respectively. Their goal scoring records were commendable but Robert Lewandowski’s boots are proving out to be too over sized to be filled in by either of these two.
While, Immobile has scored only twice in 10 appearances, Ramos is a shy better, scoring twice in 8. And the situation isn’t pretty for either of these two.
Not only this, but poor finishing in front of goal has come in as a death knell for BVB. They dominate possession and create as many chances they can but still fall short of coming away with even a single point.
Guest blog from our friends at Footymad