Suche

Social-Media-Navigation

Instagram Twitch onefootballLogo

Sprachnavigation

Account-Navigation

Pre-match report

Bundesliga

Analysis: The reasons behind the recent mini-slump

  • image
  • image
  • image
  • image
  • image
  • image
  • image

Borussia Dortmund have gone three games without a win for the first time under Peter Bosz. The club's last such winless run came in December 2016, when they drew four consecutive matches. So it would appear the Black & Yellows have lost their way a little since the international break. What are the reasons behind their slump in the third week of October?

Just three weeks ago, the euphoria was widespread. BVB were unbeaten and occupied pole position in the Bundesliga, having silenced their critics by playing some fantastic football to sweep aside Cologne (5-0), Hamburg (3-0) and Gladbach (6-1). Yet it was relatively apparent that the victories in the league and the euphoria they subsequently generated were papering over some cracks. The games against Real Madrid and Tottenham Hotspur in the UEFA Champions League, or even the hard-fought victory over Augsburg in the Bundesliga, all exposed a few defensive frailties. The recent clashes with Leipzig and Frankfurt threw them into sharp relief.

image

The main problem? That would be the absence of a regular back four that are used to playing together and have been able to coordinate procedures and positional play over the course of recent weeks. Since the start of the campaign, injuries and suspensions have meant the Black & Yellows have consistently been without at least four key players. On Saturday, they were without six defensive players as Sokratis, Toprak, Schmelzer, Guerreiro, Piszczek and Durm all missed out for Peter Bosz's side. It would have been surprising if their absences had not had consequences.

Nine different back fours in 14 matches

image
Subotic becomes the tenth defender used by Bosz this season

Whether by choice or not, Peter Bosz has fielded ten different players in defence in the first 14 matches of the season: Sokratis (13 starts in the back four), Piszczek (11), Bartra (8), Toprak (7), Zagadou (6), Toljan (6), Schmelzer (2), Beste, Weigl and Subotic (1 each). Only the back fours of "Piszczek, Sokratis, Bartra, Zagadou" and "Piszczek, Sokratis, Toprak, Toljan" have managed to play together on three ocassions. Piszczek, Sokratis, Toprak and Zagadou have only played together twice. In every single other match, Peter Bosz has had to field a back four that have not previously played together this season. All it all, nine different back fours have featured since the season kicked off in August.

It's unsurprising, then, that the coordination required to keep every opponent at arm's length has been lacking. In many matches this has gone unpunished, but it hasn't when Borussia Dortmund have come up against the likes of Tottenham, Madrid or Leipzig, whose ranks are brimming with top attacking talent. Frankfurt studied those matches meticulously, copied Leipzig's style and ultimately excelled themselves to deliver the kind of display you normally only see from a team on one or two occasions per season. The fact that Weigl (a midfielder) and Subotic (a defender who has next to no match practice this season) formed the central defensive partnership is unlikely to have rendered the task facing the Eagles more difficult, however well the pair coped today.

image

"We were without a whole host of defenders. I'd like to pay homage to the players who stepped into the breach at the back. I know that it's not easy for players who haven't played for as long as Neven, or for Jule too, who was playing in this position for the first time today. The lads did well," said Bosz as he quite rightly praised the players drafted in to his makeshift back four. In response to the allegation that he bore partial responsibility for his side blowing a two-goal lead due to his defensive substitutions, he retorted: "Frankfurt were looking stronger at that stage and had a lot of chances. We wanted to make a change before we scored our second and bring on a real defender. Julian is a midfielder." In fact, Frankfurt had been on the verge of scoring shortly before those substitutions, so it's only logical the coach wanted to stem the flow.

Lacking luck at the death

It goes without saying that the underwhelming performances in the last three matches cannot be solely attributed to the defensive woes. "We should've put the game to bed earlier. We had more than enough chances to go 3-0 or 3-1 up, but unfortunately we didn't take them," said Peter Bosz after the Frankfurt match. And it's true. In scoring 25 times this term, BVB might have the best goal haul in the Bundesliga, but they have often been guilty of squandering good chances – particularly in the dying minutes of the last three games. That's mostly down to skill, but you need a bit of luck too.

image

And BVB certainly haven't had it. Hasebe clawed the ball off the line for Frankfurt in the 90th minute, Aubameyang was denied by the upright in the third minute of stoppage time in Nicosia and Leipzig's Gulacsi made a sensational save in the 92nd minute to deny the Gabon forward last weekend. "We've been lacking a bit of luck at the death," explained Peter Bosz. He's not wrong. But the Black & Yellows cannot let that affect them. If they continue to believe in themselves, they will get the rub of the green eventually. Certainly, there have been better weeks than this one. But one thing should not be forgotten: Bosz's charges have still only lost one game in the Bundesliga all season and still sit top of the division after nine matches. That's hardly a bad record from the opening quarter of the season...

Dennis-Julian Gottschlich