When Borussia Dortmund plays, especially in the Champions League, you sit down and take note. It’s one of the most respected teams in Europe, and they can do anything magical on the pitch. This is the team that reached the Champions League finals in 2013 only to lose to their biggest rival, Bayern Munich. This is the club that was voted team of the year in 2011 at the annual Sportler des Jahres (German sports personality of the year) awards.
Borussia Dortmund has skilled and talented players, but Borussia doesn’t have the budget that their rival Bayern has. What makes this team so special is the amount of home-grown talent that they produce year after year, and the young players that they bring through into the first team.
Bayern Munich seemingly loves to keep buying players from Borussia against their will. In just the last couple of seasons, Bayern have poached star Dortmund players Mario Götze and Robert Lewandowski. While right now there is said to be a race going on amongst Bayern, Real Madrid, and other European giants for the signature of the highly talented Marco Reus.
For those of you who are not following the Bundesliga at the moment, Borussia Dortmund is currently at rock bottom. For those of who do, this is an inexplicable situation, a difficult puzzle to solve in the football world. After 13 games played, Dortmund has won just three games – drawing two and losing eight.
The team that played in the Champions League final in 2013 is sitting at the bottom of the league table. A team with talent like Kagawa, Marco Reus, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Ciro Immobile, and that is captained by Mats Hummels, is sitting in a position that they shouldn’t be in. What went wrong inside Dortmund?
This week, after a painful loss to Frankfurt, Borussia Dortmund sporting director Michael Zorc came out admitting that Dortmund faces a battle for Bundesliga survival. “We are stuck in a relegation battle,” he commented. “In the last few weeks, we paid attention to the gap to the top, but that’s over now.”
One problem that Dortmund clearly face is a lack of goals. So far from their 13 Bundesliga games this season, Dortmund have only managed to score a total of 14 goals, whilst they have conceded 21. When you consider that last season Dortmund were averaging 2.4 goals scored per game, this year’s average of 1.1 goals per game is a sharp and worrying downturn. The departure of Lewandowski and injuries to Marco Reus mean that Dortmund need to look to score more goals from midfield whilst Ciro Immobile finds his feet in Germany.
You can’t play down the injuries that Dortmund has had this season, but even with the injuries, a team equipped with highly talented players like those of Dortmund shouldn’t be in this position. It’s a baffling situation for everyone following the Bundesliga, as well as for those inside Dortmund, too. What makes it even more puzzling is that fans and pundits don’t really know exactly what the problem is that’s causing the team to perform poorly in the league but produce excellent performances in the Champions League.
Jürgen Klopp is one of the most highly rated and respected coaches in Europe right now. He has proved that before, and he still proves that when Dortmund plays in Champions League matches. He is one of the best tacticians, which is why many consider him to be the perfect replacement for Arsène Wenger at Arsenal. Is this where he hit the wall? Does he know how to get Dortmund out of this deep crisis?
So what’s next for Dortmund? Will Klopp turn things in a positive direction again?