The optimist will always see the glass as half full, whereas the pessimist will view it as half empty. In the case of Borussia Dortmund’s start to the new Bundesliga season we are looking at a glass half empty scenario after two underwhelming performances to start the campaign. Is it a case of slow starters or should BVB fans be worried already?
The start of the new season was always going to be a highly interesting one for Borussia Dortmund after what happened at the end of the previous season. The mental anguish of surrendering the title on the final day needed to be worked through and the loss of key man Jude Bellingham had to be compensated for.
The Schwarzgelben have however started with two sub-par displays against Köln and VfL Bochum and the faint rumblings of discontent and unease are starting to rise. Pre-season there has been an air of dissatisfaction over the club’s transfer dealings with the sense that while the likes of Bayern Munich, RB Leipzig, Union Berlin and Bayer Leverkusen have spent well to improve their squads, Dortmund’s dealings have not really given Edin Terzic much more to work with than he had last season.
The matchday one win over Köln was fortunate to say the least and the fact that goalkeeper Gregor Kobel was the team’s best player says a lot about the 1-0 victory. Saturday’s Revierderby against Bochum gave them the chance to up their game and send out a message, but again, they were outfought for large parts of the game and lacked in attacking flair.
Captain Emre Can and coach Edin Terzic admitted after the game that the team are ‘missing a lot’ at the moment and (no offence to Köln or Bochum), but these are games they should dominate and much harder tests are yet to come.
“Not good, not good enough” was Can’s honest appraisal after the Bochum draw. “I think we did in that game what Bochum wanted. We didn’t play our game, and it was not good. A lot was missing and to be honest, we don’t win the duels, we don’t win the second balls, we didn’t have many solutions with the ball today, played too many long balls.”
Edin Terzic also clearly identified some of the shortcomings saying: “We knew what awaited us. But we simply allowed it to happen. If you’re not prepared to win the second balls, if you’re not prepared to turn 50-50 challenges into 60-40 challenges, then it’s going to be open – and then it’s going to be difficult.”
Both Köln and Bochum have got their tactics spot-on against Dortmund in the opening two fixtures and highlighted a weakness in the BVB set-up. Dortmund’s strength lies with the front players with Julian Brandt largely acting as the conduit between the defence and attack. Both Köln and Bochum pressed hard and went for man-to-man marking in a (successful) attempt to cut off the supply to Brandt and the attackers.
Analyst Reece Edwards highlighted this superbly on Saturday and his posts are well worth a follow (@_reeceedwards).
Mark BVB man to man and you’ll find life much easier. Just one of 1,000 first-half losses of possession from Dortmund. pic.twitter.com/3gSwzrbk3T
— Reece Edwards (@_reeceedwards) August 26, 2023
Dortmund need a Plan B when it comes to breaking teams down and escaping from the tactical block that teams understandably put on them. The longer the under-performance continues, the more vociferous will be the claims that last season is still plaguing them mentally and the board will get more scrutiny for not spending big to bring in new quality.
BVB play Heidenheim next Friday at the Signal Iduna Park, which in theory at least will give them the opportunity to buck up their ideas. That said, remember what happened on matchday 3 last season when a newly promoted side arrived in Dortmund (Werder’s smash and grab 3-2 win).
Is the glass going to be fuller or emptier come the end of next weekend?