Fighting off injuries to key players and needing a result to keep their hopes of progressing through the group alive, Borussia Dortmund was soundly beaten in a 2-0 defeat against Inter Milan at the San Siro in Champions League play. With Barcelona winning against Slavia Praha, Dortmund slipped to third in Group F as the three final fixtures remain.
Minus Reus (flu) and Alcácer (heel), Favre rolled out… some kind of line-up. Hazard played up top, with Hakimi as the left winger, Akanji the right back, and three defensive midfielders scattered throughout. Pre-match formation graphics had this as the classic 4-2-3-1 Favre is so attached to, but I saw a back-three of Hummels-Weigl-Akanji for most of the night with Schulz roaming as a wingback.
Coming into the match second in Serie A and bottom of the group, Inter got on the board first in the 22nd minute after Stefan De Vrij split the Dortmund defense with an absolutely absurd pass, followed by an equally absurd first touch from Lauraro Martínez and a tidy finish behind Bürki. There were immediate calls for offside, but VAR confirmed the decision as Martínez was just onside thanks to Schulz standing around.
Dortmund looked flat and lacking in creativity for most of the half, and their only real chance to equalize came in the final moments of added time. Brandt found Sanch with a short pass that Sancho took towards the endline and attempted a shot from a tight angle on goal, but the shot was pushed aside by Samir Handanović.
Things got slightly better in the second half as Dortmund had a small number of chances to attack the Inter defense, but quality defending and goalkeeping kept the ball out of the host’s net. Brandt took a shot in the 64th minute that took a slight deflection from an Inter defender but it was still saved by Hamdanović.
Once Dahoud came onto the pitch for Delaney, things continued to pick up for Die Schwarzgelben. Sancho had an opportunity to equalize in the 75th minute when he received a centered pass from Hazard in a prime opportunity, but he didn’t have good enough footing to get adequate power behind the shot and it was blocked by the Inter defense.
Inter had a prime opportunity put the match out of reach in the 81st minute when Hummels caught Sebastiano Esposito on the calf and brought him down inside the penalty area. Fortunately, Bürki guessed correctly on the penalty-taker Martínez and denied the Argentine his second goal of the evening. Esposito had a chance to score off the rebound, but he completely whiffed on the attempt before the ball was cleared.
Inter sealed the three points in the 89th minute when Dortmund lost possession and Inter ruthlessly countered as Marcelo Brozović hit a sprinting Antonio Candreva with acres of space ahead of him, and he smashed a shot top corner that Bürki had no chance of stopping.
Aside from a few sparks here and there, Dortmund looked lifeless in attack in a well-deserved victory for I Nerazzuri. Even without two of our best offensive players, there’s no way Dortmund should’ve played that badly where they were held to only five total shots despite having 58% possession.
I don’t think Inter did anything particularly special to beat Dortmund, as they gladly allowed BVB to have possession and capitalize when they made mistakes. It’s what most teams have done to us all year, and I don’t see it letting up any time soon.
The players need to perform better, definitely, but I blame most of this run of poor results on Favre. Everything about him is predictable, from tactics to formations, right down to the substitutions he’ll make, and other teams have definitely noticed. If Favre wasn’t feeling the pressure before, he’s definitely feeling it now with recent reports of José goddamn Mourinho being the favorite to take the Dortmund job if Favre is let go.
BVB’s fixture list doesn’t get any easier moving forward as the Revierderby away is right around the corner. Should Dortmund put up another stinker this Saturday in Gelsenkirchen, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Favre get sacked.