All eyes will be on Peter Stöger tomorrow as he makes his debut against Mainz as Borussia Dortmund's new trainer. Sure, his results at FC Köln this year have been dastardly, but this is the THIRD time he's been called in mid-season to make a turnaround, so he has some experience in this area. Either way, some are already calling this season a write off. BVB is now in 8th place in the standings, and have been relegated to the Europa League with a historic low two points in the Champions League group stage.
The question is, what kind of leader will Stöger be? If there's one thing BVB sorely lacks right now it's leadership. Schmelzer seems to have sort of accepted that role, and even Subotic has emerged as a kind of leader with his experience and newfound playing time. But BVB needs clear, undisputed leadership. They need to gel. They need someone who can make them trust in their abilities. How many times over the past few months have we seen an errant back pass turn into a goal? BVB Look more tentative than ever, and this exactly the kind of thing a new trainer can help with. Hopefully we see it tomorrow against Mainz.
Borussia Dortmund hat einen neuen Cheftrainer: Peter Stöger. Direkt nach seiner Vorstellung ist der Österreicher zu Gast bei BVB total!. Das Ergebnis ist ein launiges Gespräch mit Nobby über Flugverbindungen, Endspieltore und unterschiedliche Mentalitäten: https://t.co/oHydZCHutj pic.twitter.com/BtrMC8fAXf— Borussia Dortmund (@BVB) December 10, 2017
Mainz, for their part, are coming off an impressive 2-2 draw against RB Leipzig in which VAR was one of the most important players on or off the field. Let's hope VAR isn't a huge issue in the game tomorrow. Wasn't VAR supposed to make everything clearer? Often it just seems to muddle things.
Other keys to the match:
Someone has to help Aubameyang with the scoring.
He can't do it all by himself. Will that person be Guerreiro? Pulisic? Will Yarmolenko score another delightful backheel goal even though backheels seem to be the only thing he's done all season?
Where’s the midfield?
When Dortmund went down 0-2 to Real Madrid after 12 minutes an interesting thing happened: The midfield kicked in. Instead of putting doomed balls up the side they started moving the ball up the middle, attacking, making cheeky runs. They started to possess. This is the kind of thing they need against Mainz, and against all teams for that matter. No more Hail Marys up the middle to Aubameyang.
The back line doesn't have to be great.
It just has to be solid. Bartra needs a good outing (for a change), Sokratis needs to not kill anyone, and Subotic needs to keep dusting off the cobwebs of several seasons of hibernation. If they play a 4-4-2 as bundesliga.com predicts, who will be the fourth? Toljan? Wherefore art thou, Lukas Piszczek...
As stated before, the biggest thing BVB needs tomorrow is to believe in themselves. What happens when they don't believe in themselves? They make 600 back passes, eventually turn the ball over, and we as fans bury our faces in our hands and groan and contemplate jumping out in front of traffic.
Tomorrow could be the day BVB start to turn things around. But that's what people said last game. And the game before. And the game before. And...