You know, I was actually optimistic going into today’s Europa League match between BVB and Rangers. I even wrote that anything other than a win would be a complete failure...and I was talking about the entire competition, not just the playoff round.
Forget making it to the final in Sevilla. After today’s 4-2 defeat, it will be an uphill battle for Dortmund just to make it out of Glasgow without dropping out. Although BVB looked strong in the opening thirty minutes, a flurry of catastrophic defensive errors saw Dortmund fall behind 3-0. While Dortmund just barely managed to stay in the tie by scoring two goals to make it 4-2, it’s certainly looking like an uphill battle to make it into the next round.
Here are the highlights for a full recap:
Here are my thoughts.
Tear it all down
Brett’s article, written after the 5-1 debacle against Bayer Leverkusen two weeks ago, is just as relevant today as it was then. Watching this squad, it is so clear that there is a massive gulf between the talent on the pitch, the depth on the bench, and where this club aims to be.
The fact that BVB don’t have a backup for Haaland other than a pair of youngsters who belong in the U-23s is an embarrassment. The fact that Dortmund have to play their best center back at right back because they don’t have any depth behind Meunier, and then have to play Dan-Axel Zagadou, who averages two howlers per game, because they don’t have any depth at center back either, is an embarrassment. The fact that they don’t have a single defensive midfielder to speak of other than Axel Witsel, who missed six whole months with an achilles injury at the ripe age of 33, is an embarrassment. The fact that Nico Schulz, who hasn’t been a top four quality player in years, is still the club’s backup left back is an embarrassment.
This squad needs a complete overhaul over the summer. I don’t mean a retooling. I mean a complete. Overhaul. Hummels, Schulz, Zagadou, Witsel, Can, Brandt, Hazard, and Malen are just a few. Moukoko should be loaned out. Tigges should be in the U-23s. The only players in this squad who I think would make it in a Bundesliga or Europa League winning team are Haaland, Bellingham, Dahoud, Akanji, Kobel, and Guerreiro, A few more players, like Hazard, Meunier, and Reyna, could be good depth options. Other than that, there’s a shitload of dead weight on this squad. BVB better have a firesale in the summer. Signing Süle on a free transfer is a good start, but they’re going to need numerous other acquisitions to get me optimistic about next season.
By the way, even if by some miracle BVB are able to overturn this two goal deficit in the reverse fixture, and even if they win the whole damn tournament, none of this changes.
How many times have we seen it? The opponent scores off a simple mistake. The heads go down. The passes get sloppy. Players stop tracking their men. Soon, before you know it, BVB are down by three goals and there’s no hope of a comeback. It happened against Leverkusen, against Ajax, against Sporting, it’s happened numerous times against Bayern, and it happened again today.
This is a trend that has transcended multiple coaches and players. There’s also not much a coach or management can do to boost their players’ morales in the middle of a match. At a certain point, it’s dependent on the leaders on the pitch to pick their teammates up. In this case, those players are Marco Reus and Mats Hummels.
Both players are of undeniable quality, but when it comes to their leadership skills, especially at this point in both of their careers, I think real questions need to be asked about their leadership capabilities on and off the pitch.
It’s miraculously not over
The one sliver of good news I can possibly muster is that BVB are still not technically out of the Europa League. Overturning a two goal deficit is not even remotely out of the question, especially if Erling Haaland returns. If Dortmund can get their star striker back, then making the playoff round is still within reach. BVB have been as inconsistent as can be over the last few weeks, so I suppose we’ll just have to hope that they show up on a good day.