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Match Observations: Dortmund Look Limp in 3-1 Loss to Lazio

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BVB Get Off to a Rough Start in the Champions League

Borussia Dortmund - Press Conference And Training Session Photo by Matteo Ciambelli/DeFodi Images via Getty Images

Well that was a ton of fun! I’m so glad the Champions League is back. Borussia Dortmund put in a pretty flat performance, and several defensive errors made things a lot harder on BVB. An Immobile goal in his first game against his former employer, a Hitz own goal, and several standout poor performances made for a pretty torrid evening in Rome. But the good news is that Micah Richards is in the CBS studio, putting smiles on faces and lifting spirits! Anyway, here are some observations from today’s loss.

BVB Up To Their Usual Antics

We’ve had some version of this conversation every single day for the last two or three years, whether we refer to it as a mentality issue, a lack of experience, or a lack of fight, Dortmund seem far too prone to wilting when the going gets tough. It isn’t week-in, week-out, but it is certainly far too often. It felt like things were beginning to improve, but today’s game is a stark reminder of the occasional poor performance that BVB have in the locker.

However it’s also worth acknowledging that this wasn’t a demolition. Take a look at Michael Caley’s xG map for today’s game. BVB failed to capitalize on their chances, and Lazio were ruthless with theirs (with a little help from Dortmund’s defending).

xG Map - Lazio vs Dortmund
Michael Caley

As further evidence of this, FiveThirtyEight’s xG actually gave Dortmund the advantage, 2.0 to Lazio’s 1.7, and the non-shot xG was even more in BVB’s favor, at 1.7 to Lazio’s 0.9. Dortmund were in the game, though they didn’t look as dangerous as we would have liked, but more than anything, the defending really let them down.

No CBs = No Fun

Dortmund’s defense was poor today, and that hurt the team at both ends, but I think plenty of that can be attributed to the back three being a mess. Perhaps Favre should have moved to a back four for today’s game, but equally, we’d have crucified him if we’d looked disjointed after a formation change.

The defense is going to shoulder the blame for much of what happened today, and they definitely should, but I think it’s important to remember that we were playing with an incredibly makeshift defense. If I was to dream up a realistic but utterly terrifying back three for Dortmund to field against a top team, this might be it. Piszczek and Hummels, between them, are older than the sun, and Thomas Delaney coped pretty well at the weekend, but the fact is he is not a center back. There’s a real lack of pace between the three of them, and without Can and Akanji, the back three was not as comfortable in possession as it typically would be.

Has Burki Been Demoted?

Burki has supposedly been ill for the last four weeks, but he has been well enough to ride the bench, and all the while, Hitz has done a good job of showing that he is nothing more than a backup keeper. What is going on? Is Burki really ill? And if he is, why is he on the bench?

It feels like Hitz is being given a run as the number one, but I don’t understand why. He’s just not as good as Burki.

There is a Whole Lot of Football Left to Play

It was a poor display, and was a terrible start to BVB’s Champions League campaign, but lets not lose our minds over one loss. Dortmund have plenty of games left, in the Champions League and the Bundesliga, to make up for today’s poor showing. All of the big clubs around Europe have stumbled out of the blocks, and for whatever reason (there are about a million possible explanations), it seems like this season is going to throw up a lot of freak results.

Losing to Lazio, away from home, with a makeshift defense, is not the end of the world. It’s a disappointing result and performance, but lets not lose our minds and burn the whole season to the ground.

Your Observations

What did you make of the loss? Do you think the season is over? Leave your thoughts below.