With the November international break finally over, Dortmund gets right back into the swing of things as they look to end a miserable run of form with a league match away from home against VfB Stuttgart this Friday.
This has been as bad a stretch of soccer as I’ve ever seen. No Bundesliga wins since September, one point in their last four games in league play, and two points in four Champions League matches. A 5-0 drubbing of Magdeburg in the DFB-Pokal was the only thing saving this run of competition from being a complete and utter disaster. If I had to summarize our month of October plus the 3-1 defeat in Der Klassiker in gif form, it would probably be this one… or this one… no, maybe this one.
Regardless, it’s been bad. Bosz isn’t putting his players in positions to succeed or putting out the best tactical plans, the most of the players aren’t playing at their best, our stars are getting themselves suspended, and our once rock-solid lead atop the table has evaporated.
However, I believe the international break came at a good time for Dortmund, as it allows them to take a breath, regroup, and hopefully get back in form. The schedule gets slightly easier moving forward, in spite of home matches Sh*lke and Hoffenheim and an away affair at Leverkusen, with games against Mainz and Bremen from now until the holiday break. A positive result at the Mercedes-Benz Arena on Friday should be the right kind of momentum to bring into difficult upcoming Bundesliga and Champions League matches.
We should be playing our strongest lineup from this point forward if we want to claw back into title contention. Burki-Schmelzer-Bartra-Sokratis-Toljan-Weigl-Dahoud-Götze-Pulisic-Isak-Phillip in a 4-3-3 is the XI I’d go with against Stuttgart, with Kagawa, Yarmo, and Zagadou coming in as subs depending on the situation. Burki’s our best goalkeeper, so benching him is out of the question. Bartra at right back needs to stop being a thing, and Toprak shouldn’t be starting at centerback over a healthy Bartra. This would be a good match to see if Toljan can really play at this level and to redeem himself for his poor play early on. The Weigl-Dahoud-Götze midfield presents a balance between ball control and attacking abilities, with Weigl and Dahoud presenting that ball security and defensive mindset needed in the center midfield, and Götze attacking defenses with his on-ball skills and passing. Pulisic has been one of the best players for Dortmund in October, and he’ll be fully fit after not participating in USA’s friendly against Portugal. I’m dropping Yarmolenko as a starter after his abysmal performance against Bayern and rewarding Phillip with a start on the wing. With Aubamayeng doing a dumb and getting himself suspended, now would be a good time to give Isak a run as the lone striker.
As for Stuttgart, they’re having problems of their own. They’re currently sitting 12th with a goal differential of -4 after an embarrassing 3-1 defeat to Hamburg before the international break. A solid performance against a struggling team is exactly what Dortmund need to get things back on track if they seriously wish to contend for the title. The defense will have to keep an eye on Chadrac Akolo with his three goals coming from the center midfield. Stuttgart shouldn’t be the kind of team to run us over with tactical genius or world-class talent; rather, it would be capitalizing on Dortmund’s mistakes that would give them the opportunity for a W.
That’s my take on this game. Let me know below what you think needs to happen for the squad to get the win on Friday.