2023 has come to an end and the Bundesliga enters its traditional Winterpause, which gives us here at Bundesliga Fanatic the ideal opportunity to take a closer look at each of the eighteen clubs and rate their performance in the first half of the season. Next we run the rule over the drama that is Borussia Dortmund.
The story so far
The plan was for Borussia Dortmund to use the pain and disappointment from last season to spur them on to another title challenge, but the first half of the season has seen a return to the inconsistent BVB that frustrates their fanbase so much. The pressure is mounting on coach Edin Terzic, who faces criticism over his tactical outlook and if reports are to be believed, a potential mutiny amongst key senior players.
Dortmund’s Hinrunde can actually be split into two halves- the first largely satisfactory results-wise but with the second run of eight games wholly unsatisfactory and the cause of much debate. They opened with a win over Köln before being held by both Bochum and Heidenheim in what was seen as points dropped. They responded in the right manner though with five consecutive wins meaning at the end of matchday 8 they were level on points with Bayern Munich.
A 3-3 draw at Eintracht Frankfurt followed before Bayern arrived at the Signal Iduna Park for the first Klassiker of the season. BVB had no response to a fluid attacking display from the visitors and (another) Harry Kane hat trick helped the Bavarians to a 4-0 triumph. A second defeat then followed when high-flying Stuttgart came out 2-1 winners at the MHP Arena thanks to a late Serhou Guirassy penalty. The Swabians also knocked BVB out of the DFB Pokal at the third round stage.
A third loss looked on the cards when Mönchengladbach were the visitors on matchday 12, but after going 2-0 in the first half, they staged a top comeback to win 4-2. That was to be the final win of 2023 with subsequent draws with Bayer Leverkusen, Augsburg and Mainz and a defeat to RB Leipzig meaning Marco Rose’s side took fourth spot going into the winter break ahead of Dortmund.
The Schwarzgelben did redeem themselves slightly by finishing top of their so-called Champions League group of death ahead of PSG, Milan and Newcastle, but the dropped points in the Bundesliga meant the year ended on a bit of a downer with unrest in the squad the main topic of conversation and pressure once again mounting on the trainer.
Tale of the tape
Record: 7-6-3, 27 points (1.69 per game), 5th in Bundesliga
Home Record: 17 points (5-2-2) Away Record: 10 points (2-4-1)
Goals: 30 (1.88 per game), Goals Against: 25 (1.56 per game), Diff: +5
xG: 29.6, xGA: 27.9
The second half comeback from 3-1 down to beat Union Berlin 4-2 on matchday 7 was stirring 45 minutes as was the previously mentioned comeback to beat Gladbach. Another dramatic late win was sealed on matchday 4 when very late goals from Mats Hummels and Marco Reus sealed all three points.
The clear low point was the Klassiker defeat to Bayern. Both sides went into the game unbeaten so the match was seen as a real marker as to where they stood. Where Dortmund stood was way below the champions as an early Dayot Upamecano goal and a Harry Kane hat trick saw Bayern to a straightforward win in Dortmund’s own stadium.
While not spectacular, Julian Brandt just continues to improve as a player and can increasingly be relied upon to be the ‘difference maker’ for Dortmund. He scored five goals and added seven assists in the Hinrunde and is the first name down of Edin Terzic’s team sheet when it comes to the attacking third.
After 16 games last season Borussia Dortmund only had one more point to their name, so this season’s performance should be put into context. However, last season’s brush with the Meisterschale should have taught them the importance of not dropping unnecessary points and not beating the likes of Mainz, Augsburg, Bochum, Heidenheim could prove very costly in the long run.
The reported player unrest with the trainer’s perceived lack of tactical awareness and the rift with club legend Marco Reus do help their cause. The wisdom of their summer transfer window business will also come under scrutiny (especially when compared to Bayer Leverkusen for example). The Schwarzgelben enjoyed a much-improved Rückrunde last season and really need history to repeat itself again if Terzic is to avoid even more scrutiny and pressure.