The 2017/18 Bundesliga season has reached the halfway stage, giving us here at the Bundesliga Fanatic the opportunity to take stock of each club’s progress so far. Here, we look at how Borussia Dortmund fared in the Hinrunde.
The story so far
Oh dear where do you start with Borussia Dortmund’s Hinrunde? It was like a damp firework that whizzed up into the night sky at full speed only to fizzle out like a damp squib. What goes up, must come down.
There was much anticipation at the start of the season as to how die Schwarzgelben would fare under new trainer Peter Bosz, but BVB’s superb start to the Hinrunde saw many people’s concerns dissipate as Dortmund came flying out of the starting blocks with an almost perfect record.
Having performed well against Bayern Munich in the Supercup and breezed past FC Rielasingen-Arlen in the first round of the DFB Pokal, Dortmund opened their Bundesliga account with wins over Wolfsburg and Hertha Berlin scoring five and conceding none.
A slight blip occurred when they were held to a goalless draw by ten-man Freiburg, but normal service was resumed with a 5-0 trouncing of Köln, a 3-0 win over Hamburg and a 6-1 hammering of Borussia Mönchengladbach.
Following a 2-1 win over Augsburg on matchday 7, BVB sat top of the Bundesliga with a five-point lead over Bayern Munich in second, an unbeaten record and a goal difference of +19 having conceded just twice. That was however to prove the apex of their season with fall after the rise on the horizon.
Against both Tottenham and Real Madrid in the Champions League Dortmund’s high defensive line had been exposed by quality players and now Bundesliga teams started to work out how to exploit BVB’s risky tactic. A 3-2 home defeat to RB Leipzig brought their impressive league start to an end, but few could have expected what was to come.
They surrendered a 2-0 lead at Frankfurt to draw 2-2, before a shock 4-2 defeat away to Hannover. The way Hannover counter-attacked and beat the Dortmund back-line with ease had the alarm bells ringing. (Although Peter Bosz seemingly didn’t hear them).
They were outplayed and outclassed in the Klassiker losing 3-1 at home to Bayern before sinking to a new low losing to promoted Stuttgart. Surely the Revierderby would kick-start their faltering season? Based on the first-half yes, as they raced into a 4-0 lead to stun Schalke. Die Königsblauen however had not read the script and staged a spectacular fightback to draw level in the 94th minute.
A pathetic 2-1 loss at Werder Bremen was the straw that broke the camel’s back and trainer Bosz was duly sacked with Dortmund down in 8th position having turned a five-point lead over Bayern into a thirteen-point deficit.
To the surprise of many, Peter Stöger was hired until the end of the season and the ex-Köln coach worked his instant magic to win his two opening games against Mainz and Hoffenheim.
The Hinrunde was quite a topsy-turvy experience for Borussia Dortmund.
P17 W8 D4 L5 F39 A24 Pt28 (3rd)
- Dortmund lead the league in average number of passes in goal-scoring attacks with 13.4.
- Defender Sokratis played 1129 passes in the Hinrunde with a 91% success rate. Only Joshua Kimmich and Diego Demme played more.
- It was 73 days between BVB’s win over Augsburg on matchday 7 and their next three points against Mainz on matchday 16.
Top Performer: Christian Pulisic
The sale of Ousmane Dembélé to Barcelona opened the way for Christian Pulisic to take on the mantle of Dortmund’s top young player and the 19-year-old has shown that he is relishing the role.
The recently-crowned USMNT Player of the Year continued where he left off last season with his exciting style of play and exuberance. He’s scored three goals and provided one assist and leads the entire league with attempted dribbles with 126 (19 more than Kingsley Coman).
His best match was the season opener against Wolfsburg and he was one of the few Dortmund players to emerge from the Klassiker against Bayern with much credit after another fine display. Such has been his development that transfer rumours are bound to start circling in the January window.
The summer signings
Much like Dortmund’s season, it has been a bit of a mixed bag regarding the players brought in during the summer. Maximilian Philipp has been the outright success, but sadly his time was cut short with a serious injury against Leverkusen on matchday 14. Prior to that he’d impressed hugely with his six goals and two assists.
Ömer Toprak has started eight games, but with Peter Bosz tinkering to find his best back three, he had his rhythm interrupted somewhat. Andrey Yarmolenko has settled well following his move from Dynamo Kiev as Ousmane Dembélé’s replacement and has contributed three goals and three assists.
Dan-Axel Zagadou was thrown-in at the deep end at the start of the season to cover an injury crisis and performed well. He’s made six starts and even got on the scoresheet against Hannover, although was sent-off in the same game. Mahmoud Dahoud has been limited to just four starts so far so has been unable to really breakthrough, although he has shown promise.
Jeremy Toljan has made nine starts on the left-side of defence but hasn’t exactly been grabbing the headlines, while teenager Jadon Sancho has played just 16 minutes against Eintracht Frankfurt and Bayern.
Of the entire meltdown following matchday 7, the low point probably came at home to Werder Bremen, which led to those in power finally losing patience with Peter Bosz and realising they had to make a change.
Werder had been poor in the Hinrunde, but at the Signal Iduna Park, they were made to look good by a BVB performance that was abject. That the visitors took the lead was not a surprise with Dortmund seemingly unable to find an answer to stand-in trainer Florian Kohfeldt’s game plan.
They did equalise through Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang but were once again caught out defensively with Theodore Gebre-Selassie heading in what proved to be the winner.
Remember these days BVB fans? The 6-1 demolition of Borussia Mönchengladbach on matchday was the highlight of what turned out to be a very disappointing first half of the season.
The opening 30 minutes were well-matched, but from then on, it was all Dortmund and they produced a real goal-fest for the home fans. Maximilian Philipp scored twice before the break with Aubameyang adding a third right on the stroke of half-time.
There was no let-up after the restart and ‘Auba’ netted in the 49th and 62nd minutes to complete his hat trick. Lars Stindl did pull one back for the Fohlen, but that wasn’t to spoil the BVB party with Julian Weigl cracking home a fantastic sixth goal ten minutes from the end.
At times it was champagne football from the Schwarzgelben, it’s just a shame that a horrible hangover was to follow.
Who can tell which face of Borussia Dortmund we’ll see in the Rückrunde. Can Peter Stöger get a clearly talented bunch of players back on track and turn the clock back to the opening seven games of the season?
The pressure will be on for a top-four finish and with plenty of BVB players playing for a place in their respective national team World Cup squads, the motivation will certainly be there.
On paper Dortmund should be Bayern’s closest challengers, and with Stöger’s more pragmatic, but less cavalier approach to defence, that should once again be the case. BVB have too many quality players to be scratching around in 8th place losing to teams like Werder at home.
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