As the Bundesliga season enters its second half, it is an unfortunate reality that Borussia Dortmund are in no position to compete for the Meisterschale. With both Bayer Leverkusen and Bayern Munich leaving the rest of the league in the dust, VfB Stuttgart, RB Leipzig, and Dortmund are left to fight for what will likely be two Champions League qualification spots.
Edin Terzic’s Borussia Dortmund never had the underlying numbers of a title contender, and a string of close victories against substandard opponents in the early weeks of the season kept the title race artificially close, the final nail in the coffin of Dortmund’s title ambitions was a brutal run of play that saw Die Schwarzgelben drop points in seven of eight matches. This stretch of losses and draws was a disaster waiting to happen, with Borussia Dortmund facing all four top-five rivals, Bayern Munich, Stuttgart, Leverkusen, and Leipzig, in a single stretch of five matches, with a brief respite against Borussia Mönchengladbach in between. Unfortunately, in the second half of the season, Bundesliga teams play their opponents in the same order as the first half of the season, which means that Dortmund will have to face that formidable stretch of opponents again.
The good news is that this run of matches won’t come until the end of March, when Dortmund face Bayern. Until then, BVB face a string of opponents that, at least on paper, should be easier to defeat. During this time, it will be imperative that Edin Terzic’s men bank as many points as possible, so that they can buy themselves some room for error when things get sticky in March and April.
I’ve prepared this handy chart that demonstrates what I’m talking about. As you can see, in the upcoming eight matches, Borussia Dortmund will face seven teams with an expected goal differential below 0, before running into a gauntlet of tough matches including the aforementioned nightmare stretch of Bayern, Stuttgart, Leverkusen, and Leipzig in five match days.
With both Stuttgart and Leipzig dropping points this weekend, BVB have positioned themselves well to make a run at the top four. The club got off to a good start in this stretch of “easy” matches by beating Darmstadt and Cologne, and really need to continue this trend in the next few weeks against Bochum, Heidenheim, and others to bank as many points as possible. In that horrible five-match stretch I mentioned above, Dortmund could easily drop five to ten points, and will need a decent-sized buffer in case that occurs. Any points dropped during the upcoming matches could prove disastrous come the end of May.
Last season, BVB had the Bundesliga title practically in their grasp, and it was matches against Bochum and Mainz that caused it to slip away. Beating the beatable opponents is vital to any club’s success, and this season will prove no different for Borussia Dortmund.