Borussia Dortmund have lost two matches in the space of four days and enter the international break stewing on their performances. On Wednesday night,Arsenal deconstruct the Dortmund gameplan. On Saturday night,Wolfsburg beat them 2-1 in the Bundesliga. Over the last three years,Dortmund have tended to do well in either the league or the cup. As yet,they are unable to hold their intensity for a full season and spread it across two competitions.
While winning the league in 2011,they failed to clear the CL group stages. That though,can be explained by them being unaccustomed to the tournament. In 2012,their run to the final with their brand of ‘heavy metal football’ as described by manager Jurgen Klopp saw them finish a distant second in the league.
This season holds a set of new challenges for the team in Black and Yellow who took the world by storm last year. They are getting used to not being an unknown entity who can slink in anonymously and overpower oppositions who may take them lightly. Dortmund are at a stage where last season’s highs will have sapped them and getting the motivation back might prove to be a problem. They are also dealing with increased expectations that ally themselves with success.
That said,they are faring better in the league as compared to last year – second now as compared to fourth at the same stage last year – and are suffering in the Champions League as the group they feature in containing Arsenal,Marseille and Napoli is akin to a prolonged death match where going for the jugular is mandatory. Arsenal top the English league and Napoli are lurking in third in Italy while Marseille are floundering in France and Europe.
Dortmund’s back-to-back losses have come against form teams though they were expected to beat them. While not all has gone to script,let no one think of using that c-word – crisis – and venturing into that favourite land of a lazy writer – hyperbole.
The international break has come at the right time for Dortmund to regroup mentally and physically. Long may the heavy metal football continue.
(Hormazd is a senior sub-editor based in New Delhi)