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Borussia Dortmund Somehow Manage to Turn Meaningless Game into an Embarrassment

Borussia Dortmund v TSG 1899 Hoffenheim - Bundesliga Photo by Martin Rose/Getty Images

All they had to do was not humiliate themselves, and they couldn’t even accomplish that.

Despite having no expectations and no pressure, Borussia Dortmund still managed to completely collapse against TSG Hoffenheim and took an absolute paddling to the tune of a 4-0 loss. Andrej Kramaric, who has made a career out of scoring goals against BVB, struck the back of the net four times within sixty minutes. Hoffenheim ran roughshod over a nonfunctioning Borussia Dortmund, who looked uncoordinated at best and completely uninterested at worst.

This was not the result of a tactical masterclass from Hoffenheim. This was a performance by a BVB team that simply didn’t give a shit. Hoffenheim outran them and out-pressed them from the moment the match began to the final whistle. Hoffenheim, who were fighting to make it into the Europa League, had something to fight for. BVB had nothing but their pride, and apparently that wasn’t enough to motivate them. Compare Borussia Dortmund’s performance to Bayern Munich, who steamrolled Wolfsburg. The Bavarians didn’t have anything to play for either, but they still had mentality to press on and play the best football they could. I’m at a loss as to why Borussia Dortmund simply can’t muster the same drive to win at all costs that Bayern can.

I’d like to say that today’s disastrous performance can be chalked up to players that are already planning to leave Dortmund playing poorly, but I’m afraid that’s not the case. If anything, Achraf Hakimi and Jadon Sancho, who came off the bench in the second half, were Dortmund’s biggest bright spots. Several players who we expect to be important figures for Dortmund moving forward had shambolic performances. Leonardo Balerdi had a starting debut to forget. His positioning was poor, he looked weak on the ball with several careless turnovers, and he missed a tackle in the buildup that directly led to Hoffenheim’s first goal. Gio Reyna wasn’t as bad, but he could have been better as well. At least his mistakes only led to a feckless offense, not a calamitous defense.

It’s becoming more and more obvious that Julian Brandt is simply not capable of playing in a two-man midfield with Axel Witsel. If he is, he isn’t showing it. He had countless careless turnovers and heavy touches, couldn’t break Hoffenheim’s press, and was a non-factor while off the ball. I honestly hope that he just wasn’t trying today, because if this is the best that Brandt can offer in midfield, then BVB have a serious problem for next season.

I could go on about individual performances, but the truth is that the entire squad needs to take ownership for this. A 4-0 loss should be unacceptable to any team, let alone Hoffenheim. Questions need to be asked about Lucien Favre’s leadership but also of the veteran players in the locker room. Axel Witsel, Mats Hummels, and Lukasz Piszczek are some of the older, more experienced players on the pitch, and BVB rely on them to help guide the younger players on the pitch. The fact that BVB went into half time down by two goals, and came out to start the second half and immediately conceded two more goals, points to a serious vacuum of leadership.

Words can’t describe how dejected I am. The news of the Meunier and Bellingham transfers had me feeling pretty optimistic about the future of the club going into today, but BVB’s performance against Hoffenheim shows that there’s still a ton of progress to be made, and that something needs to be done to ingrain a winning mentality in these players.

We’ll have more to recap the season in the coming days.