Borussia Dortmund seek return to winning ways

Five wins, two draws, and a loss by the end of match day eight is a very decent start to the season, especially after last year’s sub-par performance.

Thomas Tuchel has done really well to turn things around at the Signal Iduna Park. Putting more emphasis on possession-oriented football, bringing in fresh faces like Gonzalo Castro, Julian Weigl, Adnan Januzaj, and Roman Bürki, and letting go of a few others, the new coach started his new adventure with eleven straight wins across all competitions. His team were top of the Bundesliga, top of their Europa League group having cruised through the qualifiers, and they were also into the next round of the DFB Pokal.

There was hope on the horizon via a new start, a new reign, and a new beginning. Dortmund were flying, Aubameyang was scoring for fun, and Mhkitaryan looked as though he was born again. Every Bundesliga fan was excited about the season with questions like “Will we see a new champion this campaign?” and “Can BVB take Bayern all the way?” circulating around the league.

But at the end of match day eight, most people, if not everyone, has agreed that the title race is all but over. With Bayern sitting on top of the table with 8 wins out of 8 games and 7 points ahead of their nearest rivals BVB after a thumping 5-1 victory against them at the Allianz Arena.

 

Dortmund entered Allianz Arena as potential peers and exited as decided also-rans. (Photo by Micha Will/Getty Images for MAN)

However, all It took was nine minutes for me to realize that all the fantasies of a close title race will have to wait another season or more. Of course, I’m talking about Bayern vs. Wolfsburg from match day six. You all know the story so I don’t have to tell you how a certain Robert Lewandowski came from the bench and broke all hosts of records to send a big message to the rest of the Bundesliga.

Following that historic night, it was BVB’s turn to send a message of their own. A game against Hoffenhiem and a win would see them back on level terms with the Bavarians. Thomas Tuchel opted to give Mhkitaryan and Gündogan a rest, and at halftime the black-and-yellows were trailing 1-0. Even though changes were made and the players upped their game to pull a goal back, that was all they could find: a draw that felt like a defeat leaving the BVB two points behind Bayern.

But there was still hope!

Newbies SV Darmstadt came to town on the next match day, but the annoying trend that seemed to be the case in recent games struck and Borussia Dortmund conceded the first goal. Despite the best efforts of in-form striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to grab two goals to overturn the score line, a late goal changed a game that looked to be an astonishing comeback win into a disappointing draw. Heads were down at the Signal Iduna Park for the first time this season.

And waiting next was the big one: a trip to Munich.

Bayern were, of course, overwhelming favorites, but the visitors did well to keep the score line at an evenly matched 2-1 at halftime, but that was all they could do. Former players Lewandowski and Mario Götze rubbed the salt in BVB’s wounds when their goals in the second half handed the men from Westphalia their first loss of the season. Tuchel immediately rushed into the changing room after the final whistle as did the title race into wilderness.

The international break came immediately after and so presented the coaching stuff to work on the things they deem necessary to start winning again. They had the time to reflect on recent disappointments and lick their wounds, if you will, but now that time is over. A trip to the Coface Arena is the next order of business, and anything less than a win will be a huge disappointment.

Three points is necessary to put the team back on track, and so too is not conceding the first goal. The defense has been under scrutiny recently. The lapses in concentration and getting caught on the break are the reasons the team have been unable to take command of the games, because these resulted in the opposition taking a lead.

Questions have also been raised about Marco Reus’ recent form. After his recent setback with yet another injury, the BVB star has been struggling to find the form that made him one of the most-wanted players in Europe. Tuchel started him on the bench against Bayern, showing that the new manager will not think twice if he thinks a change has to be made, and a change is what the team needs right now, as rotation is the only way they will be able to handle the packed schedule ahead, even though recent games have shown that a rotated squad may not have the same strength as the first eleven.

And so eyes will be on Tuchel’s return to Mainz on Friday as Dortmund look to get back to winning ways and fast.

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Brook lives in Ethiopia, and started following the Bundesliga from a very young age. His favourite players then were Thomas Rosicky - the reason he became a Dortmund fan! - and Marcelinho of Hertha Berlin. He likes to watch, read, write and talk about football with special interest in discussing emerging young talents. Follow @brookge