If losing 4-0 in a raucous away stadium feels horrible enough, then standing in front of TV cameras and answering questions from pesky beat reporters, when all you want to do is take a shower and go home, has got to feel just as bad, if not worse. Nevertheless, it comes with the territory of being a professional coach or player. Yesterday, following their brutal takedown at the hands of Ajax, BVB’s players and manager sat in front of the media in what must have been a very uncomfortable experience.
When asked to summarize his squad’s performance, Marco Rose replied with a less-than-nuanced response:
Despite his initial brevity, Rose did elaborate further. While he claimed that BVB started the game well (a little generous, in my book), he mentions that once Ajax were up 2-0, Dortmund more or less capitulated.
Our body language was like we were out of the game. After conceding the second goal, it was a matter of conviction. We have to work on that. We made too many mistakes, too many simple mistakes. When we were in the last third, we gave the balls away much too easily and used too little movement to get into the crucial spaces.
While it’s true that the game was within reach and that BVB did let their chins fall, it’s not like the game was even before the score became 2-0. Ajax were set up from the beginning to easily break BVB’s lines, and nothing Rose did seemed to solve the problem. I would have liked to see him address some of the tactical flaws I mentioned in my observations yesterday, but he unfortunately didn’t.
Marco Reus provided little more insight. He took responsibility for his own goal, which I think was unfortunate more than anything.
Ajax had a lot of opportunities, the first goal was clearly my responsibility, I misjudged the ball. Nevertheless, [Haaland] gave us opportunities. Ajax took advantage of it and in the end prevailed because they were the better team. We weren’t aggressive and didn’t go into the duels energetically... It wasn’t on the plan to go down here like this... But the way the goals came and Ajax got several opportunities, it’s too easy.
I disagree with Reus here too. He, along with several other players, were plenty aggressive in trying to recover lost balls. The issue was that they were completely ineffective at it, pressing in a piecemeal fashion rather than doing so as a cohesive unit.
In his interview, Julian Brandt expressed a similar attitude, arguing that BVB looked in the match before the second goal. If that’s the takeaway that the Dortmund players have from yesterday’s game, then I’m a bit concerned, because the first half performance, even before Ajax’s two goals, was not good. Hopefully they’re able to find something useful in the result, because they face Ajax again in Dortmund in a few weeks.