Thomas Tuchel had warned in the run-up to the game that this could happen. After the match against bottom-of-the-table SV Darmstadt 98, he congratulated fellow coach Torsten Frings on a "deserved victory", before adding: "The fact it was deserved shows how little of the quality at our disposal we actually showed out there today."
For the fifth time this season, the Black and Yellows have produced highly contrasting performances in the space of several days. The 1-0 win over Bayern was followed by a 2-1 loss in Frankfurt, the 2-2 draw against Real Madrid by a 1-0 reverse in Leverkusen, the 2-1 triumph over Sporting Lisbon by a 3-3 stalemate in Ingolstadt, the 2-2 draw in the return leg in Madrid by a 1-1 draw in Cologne – and now, they have followed up wins over Rasenballsport Leipzig and Hertha BSC with a completely deserved defeat by Darmstadt in which the margin could arguably have been higher. "I had the feeling that we never really got into the game," bemoaned Tuchel, who continued: "The best thing about the first half was the result, because it meant that we still had the chance to win the whole game if we could get a positive result in the second period. But we never came close."
Tuchel: "We deserved to lose"
Despite the injuries and fitness concerns that followed the marathon clash with Hertha, and despite the death in Dembelé's family, the coach had tried to change as little as possible. Nine of the players that featured against Leipzig and Berlin played a part today. Thomas Tuchel was quick to take debutant Dzenis Burnic ("We wanted to have a left-footer for our build-up play") and Emre Mor, who set up Guerreiro's equaliser, out of the firing line. When a reporter questioned their inclusion ("young, inexperienced"), the coach lost his temper for the one and only time at the press conference.
"If our performance is so far below what we are capable of and the opposition performs close to their best, it is only fair that we lose this match and that the team that displays its full potential wins," said Tuchel. Unfortunately, his charges did not perform "and we're very disappointed by that. We deserved to lose," he said.
Reus: "We defended disastrously today"
In the "results business" that modern football has become, one is well within their rights to moan if they have genuinely had the better of chances – much as BVB did in the aforementioned 3-3 draw in Ingolstadt. In Darmstadt, though, "the opposition had too much room to play in" (Roman Bürki) and the players "defended disastrously" (Marco Reus) as the Black and Yellows' run of nine competitive games unbeaten came to an end. "Yet again we have failed to win against an opponent that we really should have beaten. And that's really bad," lamented Reus.
The defeat prompted Tuchel to return to what he had touched on in the run-up to the match. "In Leipzig and Hertha, we were facing two big-name opponents. On such occasions all our senses are sharpened, we are alert and we perform to our limit." But this time, they were playing a match "where you have nothing to gain" because everyone is expecting a win. "We seem to have problems showing full sharpness in matches without the big stage," an open and honest Tuchel admitted.
Given that Benfica and Wolfsburg (first home game after Leipzig) are next on the agenda, Black and Yellow fans might be entitled to feel hopeful...