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Will the Real Borussia Dortmund Please Stand up

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Borussia Dortmund are a team low on confidence and energy. The next few months will tell us a lot.

Borussia Dortmund v TSG Hoffenheim - Bundesliga Photo by Martin Meissner - Pool/Getty Images

Borussia Dortmund drew against TSG Hoffenheim on Saturday at the Signal Iduna Park in what has now become one of the worst home records in the history of the club. Once the fortress of Westphalia, the team’s home ground has become a place where rival Bundesliga teams come to take points off Die Schwarzgelben. The players looks lifeless at times, zapped of energy, and devoid of leadership.

Can We Blame It On Not Having Fans?

I challenge you to find an atmosphere more electric in Europe than a packed Signal Iduna Park on matchday. It is simply breathtaking, not to mention the 24,454 rabid supporters laying claim in the Sudtribune, the Yellow Wall.

Borussia Dortmund v Hannover 96 - Bundesliga
The Yellow Wall
Photo by Jörg Schüler/Getty Images

It is one of the most iconic sights imaginable and without it teams come to Dortmund with less fear, playing attacking aggressive football, and BVB seem paralyzed by the notion. Is it fair to blame Dortmund’s form on not having fans? No. This home form simply cannot continue as it has and while we should understand that the fear factor for opponents playing against our raucous fanbase is gone, Dortmund still tout one of the best squad’s in Europe. I think?

Are We Not As Good As We Think We Are?

Quite possibly, but not a ton has changed since last season. We lost Achraf Hakimi to a big fee from Internazionale and replaced him with Thomas Meunier, largely because Meunier was experienced and on a free. At the time it didn’t look like a big downgrade at the right back position and it saved the club $40 Million dollars. After a slow start, Meunier had been performing much better before his injury, but the rest of the back line has started to defend poorly. Just as Manuel Akanji started playing like a world beater, he began making massive mistakes at the back. His center back partner hasn’t performed much better. Mats Hummels has been poor for several games now after being stellar for a nearly a year and a half. What’s most concerning is the goal-keeping issue that Paul Johnson has been covering in his series of pieces for the website. Here is latest one:

Paul’s series covers starting goalkeeper Roman Burki, who has really failed to perform over recent seasons. However, since being out injured Marvin Hitz has stepped in and been absolutely atrocious. Are the defenders uncomfortable with Hitz? Is Hitz uncomfortable with the defenders? Perhaps it is just both which is causing easily conceded goals from major defensive lapses. According to fbref.com, Dortmund’s opponents are scoring 1.48 goals per game in the Bundesliga which is higher than last season’s average of 1.21 goals per game.

BVB aren’t scoring nearly as many goals either, as the team is only averaging 1.95 goals scored per game, which falls well short of last season’s mark of 2.47 goals per game. Marco Reus has yet to really impress, Julian Brandt hasn’t really done anything all season (which explains why he started the year on the bench in every match), and Thorgan Hazard hasn’t stayed fit. Jadon Sancho had a slow start according to the numbers, but most of us feel that was due to Hakimi’s absence on the overlap, and him having to work a lot harder in the build up play. The “San-Show” has been hot since the end of December, however, and I believe a lot of that has to do with him switching over to the left most matches and combining with Raphael Guerreiro.

Some of the players have not been performing too badly, but they just need a rest. Unfortunately, we do not have very many options for rotation right now. Hummels, Akanji, Guerreiro, Sancho, and Erling Haaland have to play every match currently. Until we can get Dan-Axel Zagadou, Hazard, and Meunier fit, these players are going to have to dig deep and step it up if BVB want to play in Europe next season.

Who Is Our Leader?

Lucien Favre wasn’t a very vocal coach, billed as a tactician, Favre was reserved and without a lot of energy on the touch line. Edin Terzic has taken over and while he conveys more passion and energy in the technical area than his predecessor, it is apparent to BVB supporter believes the players are listening to him. Marco Reus is supposed to be the club captain, but he is not bringing the vocal leadership the team needs when things are not going their way. Mats Hummels and Thomas Delaney have also worn the armband this season, with Jadon Sancho having a cameo but they just don’t seem to keep their teammates calm when needed, or stick a boot in their ass when the situation requires it. Someone needs to grab this group by the scruff of the neck and remind them who they are.

Final Thoughts

There are some decent reasons to explain this form of the squad, and I do believe we have been a little unlucky in several matches this season, but sixth place on thirty-three points after twenty-one matches is unacceptable for this team. Yes, we have no fans in the stadium. Yes, the fixtures are congested and the team is tired. Yes, we have had injuries to key players, but none of that matters now. This club is still in contention for qualification into next season’s Champions League and should be a favorite to win the DFB Pokal with a quarterfinal draw against Borussia Monchengladbach still looming. Dortmund are still in this season’s Champions League as well thanks to a brilliant display on the road against Sevilla FC. We are about to find out a lot about the heart of this team as BVB’s season is on the brink; so will the real Borussia Dortmund please stand up.

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