Full time – Players lie flat on the ground, while the Westfalenstadion making air of its discontent. Whistles. In Dortmund? Against the own team? Yes, and it has been a miracle that it took so long for the fans to finally lose their patience.
Despair is all around after the 1-0 loss to Augsburg. This was not supposed to happen, things were supposed to be improved, but it’s the same old song and dance all over again. This time there is no winter break ahead, that might fix a thing or two, this time errors cannot be blamed on a poor physical condition. This time everyone realized that the eventual turn-around won’t happen.
Das Abstiegsgespenst – ‘the ghost of relegation’ is haunting this Borussia Dortmund team. It has drilled its long claws deep into the players heads and is not letting go anytime soon. The feeling of insecurity is immense and certainly hasn’t decreased in January. Dortmund are now five games from a win and Jürgen Klopp has said it himself: “Only games can bring back confidence.” Hence the downward spiral takes another turn.
So what has actually happened on Wednesday night?
FC Augsburg created the first chance of the game after 13 minutes. A few simple pass through Dortmund’s right side put Dong-Won Ji at the end of that chance. Hummels covered the run, while Roman Weidenfeller first came out and was left stranded once again. Ji had the right idea to lob the ball, but poorly executed it.
If you point to Borussia Dortmund making silly errors, you’ll say “typical, they are last in the league, that’s the dynamic.” But it was Augsburg’s center back Ragnar Klavan, who produced the first big screw up of the game. Ciro Immobile won the ball just at the edge of the box and passed it into the path of Kevin Kampl. Now it’s ‘typical’ for Dortmund to not punish that mistake.
Obviously, the level of this game wasn’t great, but nobody expected it to be, but still the black and yellows managed to create chances or at least rough outlines of scoring opportunities. I think for the first half, the performance was okay, given the circumstances. It wasn’t brilliant, but Dortmund was all in all still the better side and had the better scoring opportunities. Of course, people will only be interested in hard numbers, when a team is sitting at the bottom of the league, but FC Augsburg is now sitting on fourth place in the league, so one can assume that they know what they are doing.
In the second half Hamit Altintop happened. The way he just walked into the box is just beyond words. One feint was enough and Mats Hummels was out of the situation, doing surprise yoga. The ball rolled over Marcel Schmelzer’s feet, who did… well. Nothing at all. Now if Sokratis and Gündogan wouldn’t have stopped running and at least tried to cover Bobadilla, they might have prevent the goal, but they couldn’t look away from the accident that was happening in front of their eyes either.
Augsburg’s second and last scoring opportunity of the game — allowing two chances in a game isn’t bad per se, but it looked like the controller went off in a video game when Dortmund conceded.
Now we come to the purgatory of this season, also known as the last half an hour. It almost started so well. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang flew past Christoph Janker. With Alex Manninger, finally a goalkeeper who is bad enough off the line to bring Aubameyang’s pace to an advantage. But Janker heroically sacrificed himself for his team by wrestling the Gabonese to the ground. It almost didn’t work out, as PEA made it back to his feet and got to the ball again, sadly that bought Manninger enough time to deny BVB from a certain goal, as he blocked the pass.
In hindsight it was the worst that could happen. The red card for Janker meant, that FC Augsburg would now solely focus on defense and everyone knows how great BVB does against teams that solely focus on defending…
Dortmund traded in the equalizer for a field goal (thank you Nuri, but the NFL is over now) and things went sour. Borussia Dortmund could not take advantage of having one man more on the field, as the panic overshadowed any form of clarity. Jürgen Klopp summed it up with “wrong decision making”, but the Dortmund coach should have provided a plan for these kinds of situations, so the “decision making” would come off easier for the players. On the pitch it looked like every BVB player was out there for himself. There was no such thing as automatism to spot.
No diagonal run to open up a pocket for another player to receive a pass in or any sort of trained sequence to gain momentum. Only at the very end Dortmund created that one chance, you simply have to put away, when your name is Ciro Immobile. But hey, at least the Italian striker pointed the close range header on goal. That’s an improvement from the one against Hertha Berlin.
In conclusion Dortmund are yet to score in 2015. It’s the 11th loss of the season for Dortmund. 19 games, 18 goals scored, 27 conceded. They are deserved last and Freiburg is up next, if you think this couldn’t get worse, you’re wrong.