Is the ‘Mentality’ Question Raising its Head Again at Dortmund?

It will come as no surprise at all when questions are asked when you let a two-goal lead slip in the 89th minute and end up losing the game. With Borussia Dortmund doing just that at the Signal Iduna Park on Saturday in a sensational 3-2 loss to Werder Bremen, people will begin to question the mentality of this BVB side and their ability to provide a genuine title challenge to Bayern Munich.

In another parallel universe, Dortmund would emerge from this weekend with nine points and a 100% record. The Schwarzgelben would be talked about as genuine title challengers with talented youngsters Jamie Bynoe-Gittens, Youssoufa Moukoku, and Jude Bellingham allied to the new defensive stability provided by Nico Schlotterbeck and Niklas Süle. With Anthony Modeste signed to provide the goals, all looked rosy.

In the 89th minute on Saturday the nine-point start looked to be on. We now know what happened and the reverberations will cause all sorts of questions to be asked about the readiness of Terzic’s side to compete with Bayern. But on closer inspection, questions should have been raised already about the start to the season.

The 1-0 ‘Arbeitssieg’ (working win) on the opening weekend against Bayer Leverkusen now looks different based on what has since happened with the Werkself. BVB took the three points, but it all honesty a point would not have been undeserved for Leverkusen.

Then came the ‘Gluckssieg’ against Freiburg last Friday when three second half substitutes turned the game from a seeming loss to a flattering 3-1 win. Dortmund’s first half display was disjointed and the Breisgauer would have been deserved winners. The joy caused by the goals that turned the game papered over the cracks that were more than obvious in the opening hour.

Six points from six then set Borussia up for what must have seemed another win at home to Werder on matchday 3, but the newly promoted side had other ideas. They dragged the hosts into a fight they didn’t want to be in and were arguably the side looking more coherent and on the same page. Until his goal Julian Brandt was disappointing with a host of misplaced passes, Anthony Modeste was a non-existent threat upfront and Marvin Ducksch and Niclas Füllkrug proving a handful for the BVB back line. Two goals of individual brilliance put the home side into an undeserved 2-0 lead.

Undeserved it may have been, but in those circumstances, you take it, shut down the game and move back to the training pitch on Monday. Dortmund failed to do that and collectively capitulated when Werder unsurprisingly didn’t give in.

There were a host of defensive errors before Lee Buchanan’s goal with Jude Bellingham giving up on the ball and not putting in a challenge after Thorgan Hazard’s poor clearance. Marius Wolf was ball-watching while Niklas Süle could have done more to block the shot.

(left) The ball is Jude Belligham’s to win ahead of Buchanan. (right) Three players are too slow to react and close the shot

For Niklas Schmidt’s equaliser Dortmund had seven players inside the area defending, but a lack of marking/ communication saw the Werder sub given a free header. The final goal (the winner) saw Bellingham dispossessed too easily, but Süle’s mobility to cut out the ball was laughable.

(left) Seven defenders and a free header. (right) Niklas Sule has to be quicker to react.

Six points from nine is not a terrible start to the season, but the fallout from this defeat to Werder may come back to haunt Borussia Dortmund. The chinks and imperfections in their armour have already been exposed by Freiburg and Werder Bremen and they have been found wanting for a game and a half.

Is there (still) a mentality problem at BVB? Will this sensational loss to Werder scar them for the rest of the season? Or is this just a one-off that will soon be put to the back of their minds? Only time will tell, but the sceptics out there will ask the question: ‘Wo sind die Mentalitätsmonster?’ (Where are the mentality monsters?).

About Mathew Burt 381 Articles
Former writer at Goal.com and JustFootball, I've been doing my thing for Bundesliga Fanatic since 2015. A long-suffering Werder Bremen fan and disciple of the Germanic holy trinity...Bier. Wurst und Fußball

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