When the Bundesliga returns on the 30th of January, Borussia Dortmund will find themselves 30 points adrift of league leaders Bayern Munich and perhaps more importantly 12 points off the Champions League places. As things stand Jurgen Klopp and co may be more focused on survival than fighting for titles, his side are second bottom at the half way stage in the German league fixtures.
Dortmund have won just four times all season, drawn on three occasions and lost ten times. In the process they’ve scored a lowly 18 goals (4th lowest in the division) and conceded 26. They’ve already lost three more games than in the entirety of their last campaign.
Qualifying for the Champions League is surely a must, not just for the revenue that it brings but also in order to hold on to the likes of Mats Hummels and Marco Reus who are seemingly linked with a move to pastures new on a daily basis. The Champions League has offered some reprieve for Dortmund, they finished ahead of Arsenal in their group although they now face a tricky tie against Juventus. Perhaps their best chance of qualifying for next year’s competition is to win this year’s.
Injuries have hit Dortmund hard. Pierre Emerick Aubemayang is the only Dortmund player to feature in all 17 league games this season and no player has been ever present. That is certainly a problem, I mentioned earlier that the likes of Hummels and Reus may well leave next season, as it is they’ve played just 1360 minutes between them all season. It’s hardly surprising that Reus has just 3 goals and 2 assists. Experienced winger Jakub Blaszczykowski has featured for just 69 minutes all season.
In recent years losing their best players is something which Dortmund fans have had to become accustomed to. Losing 20 goal a season Robert Lewandowksi to Bayern in the summer was a massive blow, worsened by the fact that they received no fee for the Poland centre forward. However, they secured replacements in the form of Adrian Ramos and Ciro Immobile. Ramos had performed well in recent season for Hertha Berlin whilst Immobile was the top scorer in Serie A last season. Neither player has truly hit the ground running though.
Ramos has started six games and appeared as a substitute in seven. The Colombian has scored twice and created two goals. He is averaging just 1.4 shots per game, last season he was having over two times as many (2.9) and managed 16 goals. Immobile has just three goals to his name. He managed 22 last season, he is clearly taking time to adjust to the German league.
I don’t think Dortmund’s performance levels, or lack thereof, are solely down to Lewandowski leaving. Although it will have played a part and his goals are missed, that does not account for the lack of defensive stability shown by Dortmund. Perhaps the biggest way the move has affected Klopp and his players is psychologically, his desire to leave and to such a big rival is bound to knock confidence and leave players questioning the clubs ambition and their own futures.
Dortmund are still having a high number of shots, 17 compared to 18 the season past, but only 5 on target compared to 7. They’re having marginally more shots from outside the box which could be a cause of this.
Dortmund have had higher possession this season, 57% compared to 52% last season. Their game has so often been based on counter attacks and swift attacks, a higher amount of possession suggests they lack that incisiveness and perhaps that is causing their game to suffer. This season Dortmund already have two red cards, they got none last season, there’s a lack of discipline creeping into their game, perhaps born out of frustration but it still leads to players missing games and makes winning that much harder.
At one stage Borussia Dortmund lost seven straight league games, they have recovered from that somewhat and they are surely too good to go down. They have however, left themselves a lot to do in terms of European qualification and finishing the season in a respectable position. If they can get their full strength team fit and settled I wouldn’t bet against Dortmund climbing the table quickly.
Statistics courtesy of whoscored.com