While Borussia Dortmund were no stranger to scoring goals, too many were conceded – an issue that a new coach must fix
A rollercoaster. Ups and downs, but mainly downs.
This has been Borussia Dortmund’s season so far in a nutshell. Thirteen points behind Bayern in the Bundesliga, the relegation from the Champions League group stages to the Europa League. But the players remain top class, and the recent change in manager could be just what the team needed to get back on the right tracks.
Dortmund’s season started off with six consecutive wins in the Bundesliga. Lovely football was being played, with constant attacking pressure and overall solid defending. It seemed that under Peter Bosz the team could return to the levels reached in recent years under the management and coaching of Jurgen Klopp. It was an illusion. Bosz had impressed at Ajax last season, and really seemed like the kind of young and hipster manager to fit perfectly with Dortmund’s style. The Dutchman didn’t last very long.
After the great start, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and co quickly started losing balance and conceding a ton of goals. The defence could not support the attacking football, ending a period with 23 goals conceded and 22 points gathered – 13 less than leaders Bayern – with the sacking of Bosz after the loss to Werder Bremen and ending the Champions League group without a win. Peter Stoger has come in, one of the options to replace Thomas Tuchel last summer.
The impact has been immediately positive with the 0-2 away win at Mainz, their first victory since September, ending an eight game winless streak in the Bundesliga, their worst in almost 18 years.
A new season can start now. Firstly, because – yes – Bayern are miles away, but the last Champions League spot in the Bundesliga table is still only two points away, and secondly the Europa League could turn out to be a much more fertile ground to get results from, with Dortmund one of the potential favourites to win it all as it stands, being drawn with Serie A revelations Atalanta, who knocked out Everton in the group stages.
The quality of the star players remains undisputed. Aubameyang has had a hand in 15 goals this season, with 12 goals and 3 assists, Sokratis Papasthatopoulos remains a defender to count on, Christian Pulisic is one of the most interesting young prospects in the whole world, Mamoud Dahoud was a key midfielder for Borussia Moenchengladbach until the summer, Shinji Kagawa is an experienced winger.
Now it is down to Stoger to mould them into a team. Balance is key: building on Bosz’s, Tuchel’s and Klopp’s attacking mentality to make it work with better defending efficiency. Conceding less, whilst scoring more. To try and control the rollercoaster.
It would not be a surprise at all to see them climb up the German league table and get even up to second, whilst also extending their European campaign to the next round. Not an easy task, of course, but to see them back on track could be fun for any neutral fan involved.