As much as we’d all like to forget Borussia Dortmund’s 2021-22 season and move on to fantasizing about a back line of Niklas Süle and Nico Schlotterbeck behind a midfield of Levin Özcan, Mahmoud Dahoud, and Jude Bellingham (just writing that makes me shiver), we’ve still got to give some sort of recap for how the season went.
The lowest possible “passing” grade. The only reason this season wasn’t a total catastrophe was that Dortmund managed, somehow, to breeze into second place in the Bundesliga relatively comfortably, giving them another opportunity to retool and go again next year. If they hadn’t, the club would be in big trouble. Dropping out of the Champions League in a group with Ajax, Besiktas, and Sporting Lisbon was embarrassing, as was immediately capitulating to Rangers in the Europa League, as was losing to St. Pauli, a 2. Bundesliga side, in the DFB Pokal. BVB had basically nothing to play for during the final three months of the season, and it began to really show with some of their lackluster performances.
This is not a season I will be looking back on fondly.
BVB did enough to maintain their position as the clear second best team in the Bundesliga, but they really botched it in the cups. Admittedly the squad was significantly hampered by injuries throughout the season, and that had a big part to play in BVB getting knocked out of the Champions League and Europa League, but it still felt like they should have done better than they did.
As Sean said, you could really see that BVB had nothing left to play for for the last few months of the season. Covering the remaining games after that point became pretty trying!
I think it’s a season best forgotten as soon as possible, and given the news that the club is moving on from Marco Rose too, it looks like the club intends to do exactly that.
Like auditing a college course, the players were encouraged to participate, but they weren’t required to (and often, didn’t). It’s a risk-free way for the team to approach the season because they were permitted to engage without real fear of success or failures. They had access to opportunities (i.e. Champions League, Pokal, Europa League matches) tools and resources to work on refining individual and team skills as well as gameplay, but were free of making a true commitment.
There is, however, a cost with this type of approach to the season. The fans. Comparing my excitement levels between the final match day of the 20-21 season versus 21-22, it was like night and day which is compelling considering BVB finished third in 20-21 versus the second place finish this season. During 20-21, I was honoring the team, celebrating with them. In 21-22, I was more just there for the Twitter content.
With that said, “school” is out and I’m hoping for a brighter future next season. HAGS everyone!