Sundays are not fun days. Only a few days after losing their chance to win the Europa League, BVB have all but eliminated their chance to win the Bundesliga too. Barring a stunning collapse by Bayern Munich that puts BVB back in the title chase, Dortmund have officially run out of trophies to win, with more than two months left in the season.
Despite playing without Erling Haaland, Marco Reus, Gio Reyna, Manuel Akanji, or Thomas Meunier, BVB should have been able to beat Augsburg, who started the match in the relegation zone. Thorgan Hazard scored in the first half to put BVB up 1-0, but the offense dried up after that, and with only 12 minutes left to play, Augsburg found an equalizer. BVB couldn’t find a match winner, and they end the match day down eight points in the Bundesliga.
Here are my thoughts:
Strikers are important
As it turns out, having a goalscoring center forward on the pitch who can press the back line, get on the end of crosses, and latch onto through balls, is actually important. Normally, Erling Haaland would be that player for BVB. If he’s not around, Marco Reus is usually that player. Unfortunately, bother players were injured today, so BVB were forced to rely on Julian Brandt and Donyell Malen as a makeshift striker pair. Malen is more than capable of handling this role, and in fact he almost scored on a shot that glanced off the post, but Julian Brandt had a lot of trouble. He had a natural tendency to drop deeper to collect the ball. While this naturally matches his skillset, it wasn’t what the squad needed. His touch map shows how few touches he had inside the penalty box, or even close to it:
Even during the first half, when BVB had a lot of possession in the Augsburg half, they really couldn’t muster much. Credit is due to Augsburg’s back line, who bent but didn’t break, with the lone exception of Thorgan Hazard’s incredible individual effort.
BVB couldn’t find an insurance goal
For the first 30 minutes, up until Thorgan Hazard dismantled Augsburg’s defense and scored the opening goal, BVB were pretty well in control. They hadn’t created many scoring chances before Hazard’s goal, but they also kept Augsburg on total lockdown. Unfortunately, after Hazard’s goal, BVB’s offensive efforts slowed to a crawl. Augsburg held more possession in the second half, and it was only a matter of time before BVB’s precarious back line of Emre Can, Marin Pongracic, and Mats Hummels cracked.
During the second half, BVB mustered a paltry six total shots, for a grand total of 0.32 expected goals:
Taking a low event approach can be a good approach when defending a lead, but when it’s only a one goal lead, it has enormous risks. A one goal lead can disappear in the blink of an eye; all it takes is one mistake... and one mistake is what happened:
Pongracic probably should have easily cleared this ball, but instead his header floated right to Arnie Maier. Maier scuffed his shot attempt, but no BVB player could mark Noah Joel Bazee, who headed the ball past the net.
The Title Race is Over
I wrote the other day that Borussia Dortmund needed to win each and every single one of their remaining Bundesliga games to get to 82 points, which would beat Bayern Munich’s current point projection, about 81 points, by a single point. Bayern won yesterday, so BVB desperately needed a win just to maintain their infinitesimally small chance of winning the Bundesliga. Instead of doing so, BVB immediately busted on the stage, blew a one goal lead, and are now eight points back with only ten games remaining.
Is there still a mathematical chance? I suppose so. Is there any actual, realistic chance? Nope! BVB are officially out of competitive games to play. With two months left. Huzzah.