Borussia Dortmund keep sliding down the Bundesliga table after their latest defeat on Matchday 15, when the Black and Yellows fell 2-1 to Werder Bremen at home. Other than a short 15-minute spell in which Dortmund managed to impose themselves on the visitors, it was another shocking performance that puts Peter Bosz’s future further in doubt.
Lineup: Bürki; Bartra, Sokratis, Subotic, Schmelzer, Guerreiro; Dahoud, Kagawa; Yarmolenko, Aubameyang, Pulisic.
Bosz made only one change from Wednesday’s UEFA Champions League defeat to Real Madrid, with Andrey Yarmolenko coming in for Nuri Sahin. This meant BVB played without a natural defensive midfielder, with Mahmoud Dahoud sitting deeper than Shinji Kagawa in a midfield twosome with Bremen in possession. Seeing as the hosts also went with a back five but a more customary three-man midfield, Bremen often had the numerical advantage over Dortmund in the centre of the park and found it relatively easy to dominate proceedings for large portions of the match.
Whereas Dortmund seemed a bit tired after the Champions League match and needed a few minutes to catch their feet, Werder were there from the first whistle. The visitors pressed with intent and moved intelligently on the field, practically suffocating Dortmund’s build-up play from the start of the game.
Unsurprisingly, Bremen had the first chances of the match with Zlatko Junuzovic aiming a shot just over the bar and Max Kruse forcing a save from Roman Bürki after Neven Subotic had been dragged out of his position as the middle man of Dortmund’s three centre-backs. Junuzovic had another shot go over the bar after Subotic and Marcel Schmelzer failed to communicate and the Serb served the ball to him.
After 21 minutes Bremen finally broke the deadlock and deservedly went in front through Maximilian Eggestein, who received a pass from Kruse on the right side of the box. Raphael Guerreiro allowed the 21-year-old too much space and Eggestein made him pay with a lovely curled shot beyond Bürki’s reach.
Bremen were closer to a second than Dortmund were to equalising, even after important supporting attacker Fin Bartels had to leave the pitch with an apparent achilles’ injury.
Bosz switched his tactics after little over half an hour, with Guerreiro moving inside and Schmelzer going to left back, but Dortmund hardly looked any better in this new 4-2-3-1 shape until half time.
They failed to register a single scoring opportunity in the first half, which is unacceptable considering Bosz called this a must-win game earlier in the week.
Andre Schürrle and Sahin came on for Yarmolenko and Guerreiro, giving Dortmund more stability in the centre and more force on the left wing. Christian Pulisic had rarely seen a ball there in the first half and moved to the other side of the pitch, where Yarmolenko had failed to do anything of note either during the first 45 minutes.
Whether it was a rousing half-time talk from Bosz, Bremen being a bit more passive, the effect of the double substitution or all of the above, Dortmund came out of the dressing room with more energy and immediately had a few half chances.
Kagawa from distance and Schürrle with what has to be presumed a failed attempt to cross the ball fired first warning shots before, somehow, Dortmund equalised in the 57th minute.
Schmelzer picked up a loose ball high up the pitch and played a delightful cross to Kagawa, whose header back to Aubameyang found its way into the net via a handful of deflections. The Gabonese might have a hard time claiming this goal when all is said and done.
Bremen took it well, though, and had a number of decent counter-attacking opportunities soon after Dortmund’s goal. Curiosly, they often ended up with a numerical advantage with BVB’s defensive hustle leaving a lot to be desired. With more composure in a few key moments, Bremen could have grabbed the lead again even sooner.
As it was, they scored in the 65th minute through Theodor Gebre Selassie, the full-back winning a header from a corner after Dahoud tried to pass on his responsibility to mark the Czech Republic international to no one in particular. Subotic came closest but looked comical trying to reach the ball with a high foot. Bürki looked awkward with the ball hitting his plant leg but could not have kept it out anyway.
Dortmund had only one chance for their second equaliser of the game, with Kagawa inexplicably hitting Aubameyang, who sat on the ground at that point, from point-blank range in the 72nd minute.
The rest of the game fizzled out with Dortmund unable to beat their own fear of another disappointing result and Bremen defending cleverly.
There are no arguments left why Peter Bosz should keep his job. The Dutchman has tried everything and moved so far away from his own vision of football that it barely matters that he and not a random caretaker manager are in charge of this football team.
Of course, a large portion of the blame goes to the players, whose performances since the end of September have mostly been pathetic, anemic or somewhere in between, but fixing a squad that isn’t put together particularly well takes a lot more time than Dortmund have right now if they want to at least have some hope of reaching their targets for this campaign.