Was this the win that will bring about the long-awaited change in fortune? The memorable 3-2 triumph over Inter Milan proved to be a false dawn. Will this victory by the banks of the Spree, won by the sweat and toil of ten men, prove to be the making of this BVB team?
''Nowadays, you rarely see ten men come out on top against eleven,'' said Lucien Favre after the 2-1 win away to Hertha Berlin. The BVB Head Coach was keen to emphasise the mental factor behind the win: ''That was very important for us mentally.'' His team took a two goal lead, a very early two goal lead, earlier than any other throughout his entire spell in charge of the club. Both goals were magnificently well worked, ''dream combinations,'' in the coach's own words. ''We started the match exceptionally well.''
However, the Black & Yellows were unable to build on their lead and soon found themselves down to ten men. There was a certain irony in the fact that it was Mats Hummels, the team's most dependable performer so far this season, who was forced to take an early bath after receiving two yellow cards. But his teammates were able to cope with the absence of their defensive stalwart and see out a first away win since the end of August. ''During the break we spoke about how we had to show everyone that we stand together as a team, to show how we can get the job done when we all run together,'' revealed Favre after the match.
Every single member of the team certainly covered a lot of ground. More than they usually do anyway. The overall distance the team covered in the second half, if averaged out to account for an entire 90-minute match and a full complement of players, would amount to an extraordinary 126km. ''We suffered out there, but we fought with intelligence. We tried to get another goal to make it 3-1. The players ran so much today. That was necessary,'' said the coach. ''We wanted to get a win here at any cost. It was an extremely tough match.''
Now Favre has a full week of training to get his side more acquainted with playing in a new system. In the first half, before the sending off, the Black & Yellows lined up in a 3-4-3 formation. The players certainly seemed to take to the new set-up: ''We moved the ball around brilliantly,'' said Julian Brandt, who played alongside Axel Witsel at the heard of midfield, much deeper than he usually does. Brandt's offensive contribution certainly didn't seem to be dulled in any case: the Germany international set up BVB's first goal with a defence-splitting pass. ''That's a position he is definitely capable of playing in,'' stated Favre.
Despite the various points dropped over the past weeks and months, the league table is still looking good from a Black & Yellow perspective. Leipzig are currently the only side more than three points ahead of BVB (Gladbach may join them on Sunday). Below that, very little separates the chasing pack. There's still everything to play for.