It’s no secret by now that Borussia Dortmund has entered a state of turmoil. What once looked like a promising, break-out season has quickly faded into a year of misfortune and frustration.
Reminiscent of Jurgen Klopp’s final season in 2013-14, Dortmund has plummeted down the Bundesliga table, currently sitting out of Champions League contention in sixth place. With 17th place Werder Bremen paying a visit to the Westfalenstadion on Saturday, Dortmund will try to turn things around.
Although Peter Bosz and his staff have made some questionable decisions...okay a lot of questionable decisions; there are more problems than simply coaching. Some problems can be fixed, others are just out of Bosz’s control.
First and foremost, Dortmund hasn’t been fully healthy at all this season. Dortmund has been without Marco Reus — one of the premier playmakers in the world — for the entire season, a hefty loss. In addition to Reus, Dortmund has also lost Max Philipp and Mario Gotze up front, both with long-term ligament injuries.
Gonzalo Castro is out long-term in the midfield with a torn ankle ligament while Sebastian Rode, the lost-cause that he is, remains sidelined with a stress fracture.
In defense, Lukasz Piszczek and Erik Durm are both out, with uncertain timetables for a return to the squad. Among the casualties in Dortmund’s team, most would be starting if healthy.
This doesn’t even take into consideration Raphael Guerreiro’s injury at the beginning of the season or Roman Burki’s slight knock which cost Dortmund a win against Schalke.
The entire squad has been ravaged by injury, forcing Peter Bosz to plug holes with out--of-position replacements and young, undeveloped players who can not adequately fill the role.
Sometimes too much of a good thing really is too much of a good thing. Dortmund is an extremely young team and while it is loaded with talent, there is an obvious lack of experience.
Even players like Andriy Yarmolenko, aged 28, has yet to endure a season as rigorous as one in the Bundesliga. There’s not a lot of obvious leadership on the team, with captain Reus out and Marcel Schmelzer failing to grab hold of his troops.
The season is starting to have the feel of a rebuilding year, even though there was never a need for one in the first place. Lots of teams endure slumps during a season, but teams as young as Dortmund often struggle historically to break out of it.
Eleven goals in 12 Bundesliga games this season doesn’t seem like a big dropoff, but it is when you consider that Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has only scored three goals over his last six Bundesliga games.
Auba’s goal-scoring slump has directly coincided with Dortmund’s winless run of form in league play. His lack of production has also been present in the Champions League this season, with the Gabon international grabbing just three goals in six games and failing to put away countless opportunities.
But Auba isn’t directly to blame. It’s difficult to blame the striker when his support system is failing to deliver passes or create quality chances. How can we expect a striker, or a team for that matter, to score without creating chances?
Aubameyang’s struggles have exposed Dortmund’s problem with creating chances for the striker, one that stems back to the loss of Ousmane Dembele in the summer.
Another issue that has become all-to frequent for Dortmund is their defensive lapses. It’s been over a year-and-a-half and Dortmund has still not found an adequate replacement for world-class center back Mats Hummels.
Sure, Marc Bartra and Omer Toprak are fine, but they are far from being world-class. Furthermore, with Dortmund’s full backs being either too old or too young, there is bound to be errors along the wings.
The unsung hero defensively (and I’m sure this will be controversial) is Dan-Axel Zagadou. Of course he’s made his fair-share of mistakes as has the rest of the team. But for a 19-year-old being thrust into one of the top leagues in the world playing at a position unnatural for someone with his size and experience, Zagadou has been a bright spot for the future.
It’s a classic example of doing what is asked of you without argument. After all, the sheer amount of injuries has made it difficult for Dortmund to fill the full back spots in the lineup. To end the rant, Zagadou’s athleticism has allowed him to be semi-successful at his off position. However, it is the fact that Dortmund’s defense is injury-riddled and slow that prevents it from being good.
In closing, Dortmund manager Peter Bosz has truly deteriorated the state of the team. But there are more problems than coaching that need to be identified and acknowledged. So before everyone continues to pile the blame on Bosz, just recognize what hand he has been dealt first.