Borussia Dortmund – What went wrong?
You don’t have to think back very far to remember Borussia Dortmund being a team on the up. Bundesliga winners in 2011 and 2012, they reached an all-German Champions League final at Wembley in 2013 and pushed Bayern Munich mighty close. That night, they were denied by an Arjen Robben goal in the dying moments but the fans were still full of optimism.
The team had a German core, with the likes of Marco Reus and Mario Gotze providing plenty of attacking flair while Mats Hummels an accomplished centre-half. They also had considerable firepower up front with Robert Lewandowski a constant threat. After that Champions League defeat, manager Jurgen Klopp declared, “We will come back, maybe not to Wembley, but we will try to come back to another final.”
And he may well be right. In this season’s Champions League Dortmund topped a group containing Arsenal, Galatasaray and Anderlecht, beating the Gunners 2-0 in September. This, of course, means they avoided the likes of Barcelona and Real Madrid in the first knockout round, instead drawing Juventus. While this still can’t be classed an easy tie, BVB certainly have a chance of making the quarter finals once again. But their sights are aimed much lower in the Bundesliga – with relegation (for the first time since 1972) a real threat, survival is no certainty.
With 15 games to go, they could easily climb the table. Only ten points separate Dortmund, 18th of 18, and Hoffenheim in 7th. But things must change, and fast. They have won just four games of 19 so far, averaging less than a goal a game. On Wednesday night they were beaten 1-0 by ten-man Augsburg, a team that had never beaten Dortmund in their history.
This appeared to be the final straw for the fans, who reacted angrily to the result. Credit must go to the players, in particular Mats Hummels and Roman Weidenfeller, who went over to apologise, the latter even climbing a perimeter fence in order to be speak more intimately with them. Confidence has disappeared from the team with shock defeats to Cologne, Hertha Berlin and Mainz. At the other end of the table, Bayern’s dominance is almost total. They are eight points clear with Gotze and Lewandowski shining following their moves to Bavaria.
But Jurgen Klopp has refused to spend in the January transfer window, the solitary signing being Kevin Kampl, a 24-year-old midfielder who came through at Bayer Leverkusen before making his name in the Austrian Bundesliga. Korean striker Ji Dong-Won, signed from Augsburg in the summer was sold back to them after just half a season.
Reports in Germany suggest that Klopp has around a month to show signs of improvement before the axe falls on arguably one of the best coaches in world football. Defeat to Freiburg tomorrow would surely be another nail in his coffin, and another result that pushes BVB towards the second tier.