On the 13th of February 2015, Borussia Dortmund beat FC Mainz 4-2 after going a goal down to them. Their form previously however, has been a stark contrast to the Borussia Dortmund that we are used to and ever since that 2013 Champions League final, the fans have been following a team that is struggling with injuries and the loss of brilliant individuals.
Ever since that final, Dortmund fans have had a tough following of their beloved team, losing out to Bayern in the Bundesliga in the season after and seeing their star players, Mario Gotze and Robert Lewandowski leave to the same team that beat them at Wembley.
In December, everything couldn’t have been worse. They were bottom of the table, with their star man Marco Reus out and in the thick of a relegation battle.
Of course, this is not to say that they could not turn the situation around, and their win against FC Mainz is their second win on the trot. Two games previous to this, in the home loss at FC Augsburg, Dortmund players stood on in shock as Mats Hummels and Roman Weidenfeller spoke to their fans who voiced their opinions in no uncertain terms.
The question isn’t whether Dortmund will come back or not, because they undoubtedly will. Jurgen Klopp is a talented manager and will be able to keep Dortmund out of the bottom three, just like recent wins against SC Freiburg and FC Mainz have done. The question is, what brought Dortmund to this position in the first place?
Nuri Sahin only completed 49% of against Bayer Leverkusen (per Bleacher Report) and in the unthinkable home loss against Augsburg, Clark Whitney of Bleacher Report noted:
Football fans and pundits often turn to tactics when things go wrong, but sometimes a chalkboard can’t explain a result or even a string thereof. A team may play the game of their lives, but if they are unable to finish on an abundance of chances created and are beaten by a 35-yard wonder-goal, it’s not a tactical defeat.
He also went on to add that as of 5th February 2015, Henrikh Mkhitaryan has zero goals from 35 shots.
So then, it can be determined that Dortmund’s problem was a psychological one, a lack of confidence which was probably caused by a string of poor results, or a bad start to the season, which is exactly what Dortmund suffered from.
They won only two games in their first ten matches and lost seven of them. Many people pointed the finger at Klopp and his lack of adaptability, but there are many factors at hand that people overlook.
In the first ten games, Dortmund conceded 17 goals. Mats Hummels has missed 12 games so far due to injury and Mattias Ginter a young, in-experienced centre-back had to take his place.
Dortmund’s top goalscorer, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, only has four goals and it is easy to fault the striker in this situation, but he has created the most chances for Dortmund so far this season, with three assists and 22 key passes per Squawka. Maybe, he is not having any chances created for him.
Nuri Sahin and Ilkay Gundogan, Dortmund’s best ball-playing midfielders missed the beginning of the season with injury and Marco Reus’ injury early on in the season dealt a big blow to Dortmund’s attack.
These injury disruptions meant that Jurgen Klopp kept having to tamper with his starting eleven and the Dortmund team lacked cohesion and could not get into form.
Many have questioned the ability of Jurgen Klopp and whether Klopp’s motivation isn’t working anymore. His team looked bereft of confidence and they looked tired from the intense press the Klopp insists on playing.
He also has great players like, Ciro Immobile, who he doesn’t seem to pick. Oddly enough, the back-four that played in the Champions League final at Wembley – Mats Hummels, Neven Subotic, Lukas Piszczek and Marcel Schmelzer – has not managed to line-up on the pitch together since and maybe Klopp’s tinkering with the team was the reason to their downfall.
However, Klopp was only tinkering with the team because of the injury problems they had at the beginning of the season. With a weaker squad, Dortmund were more likely to lose more games and the more games they lost, the more it preyed on the minds of the players.
Nevertheless, things are turning around for Borussia. They are currently in 14th place and are on the back of two wins. All of this has come around the time of Reus’ new contract signing and it canot be denied that Marco Reus has been missed by his team.
His return has brought confidence and new-found energy to the team and his impact can be seen in the assist that he provided for Aubameyang against FC Mainz on Friday.
Borussia Dortmund have a brilliant squad and a more than capable manager and at the end of the season all of this will be but a distant memory, but for now, they still have 15 games left in the season and they have to win as many of them as they can.
With the return of Reus, Dortmund fans can be sure that the worse is surely behind them, but they still have a fight ahead.