Germany: Bundesliga
4 - 3
(2 - 2)
J. Bellingham (29), N. Schlotterbeck (42), J. Bynoe-Gittens (75), G. Reyna (78)
A. Maier (40), E. Demirović (45), D. Čolina (76)
By Brook Genene

Borussia Dortmund need to improve in all aspects to save their season

Borussia Dortmund have plenty to improve on heading into the second part of the season.
It hasn’t been a kind Hinrunde for the Black and Yellows. Besides losing key striker and Haaland replacement Sebastian Haller after he was diagnosed with testicular cancer, the team failed to produce convincing performances. Edin Terzic’s side won 4 of their first five Bundesliga games, but there was no indication from those ties that this team was a title contender. Three of those games were close 1-0 wins, in which the side failed to be clinical in front of the goal. The other win against Freiburg was instigated by substitutions after going a goal behind and playing poorly for most of the game, while the 3-2 loss to Werder Bremen, in which the side gave away a comfortable 2-0 lead, raised so many questions.

Even though Dortmund put on a better performance in the Champions League, their league performance left a lot to be desired. They have lost six games already, the most of any of the teams in the top eight.

The issues in defense that were so rampant last season lingered on despite the arrival of Nico Schlotterbeck and Niklas Süle. An injury to reliable keeper Gregor Kobel also made things worse.

The team’s redeeming quality has always been the ability to outscore opponents even when things at the back weren’t going well but this season there was a huge drop-off in attacking output. Anthony Modeste didn’t manage to find his prolific form at Signal Iduna Park as he only managed to register 2 goals in 13 games. This meant that the burden fall on teenager Youssoufa Moukoko, who despite his best efforts wasn’t able to carry the team in difficult moments. Dortmund got 1.7 goals per match which put them fifth in the table way behind Bayern Munich with 3.1 in 1st place.

Edin Terzic also wasn’t without blame for the team’s underwhelming first half of the season. After taking the helm from Marco Rose in the summer, he was expected to replicate the success he had as caretaker manager in the 2020/21 season. However, his tactical limitations were on display in several games, as the team looked out of sync. His in-game management was also one thing the BVB faithful weren’t happy about.

Currently, Terzic has the full backing of the BVB board even though the fan base is divided on whether he is the right fit for the job or not. The two months hiatus came at the right time for the coach, as it provided the chance to get back to the basics and have players, who were sidelined with injuries to return.

The return of Haller and Marco Reus will be key for the attack. There needs to be decisiveness in front of the goal if BVB are to fulfill their minimum target of qualifying for the Champions League. At the moment, the team is behind its rivals when it comes to expected goals and goal difference as seen in the graph from Opta Analyst.

Julian Ryerson, a 25-year-old Norwegian full-back, has arrived from Union Berlin and will be key for the side. The recurrent injury to Thomas Meunier and the fact that Mateu Morey has been sidelined for a long time has been an issue for BVB. Marius Wolf was often used there, but that’s not his natural position.

Terzic is expected to deliver in the second half of the season and there will be no excuses after the return of key players. The team might not be at a time where they can fight against Bayern for the title but anything outside of the top four will be a huge disappointment. BVB will restart their campaign against Augsburg and are also expected to announce Moukoko’s contract extension which is another welcome news for the side.

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