Borussia Dortmund are threatening to throw away the Bundesliga title. After leading the title race quite comfortably for most of the season, a 0-0 draw with lowly Nuremberg on Monday night has seen their advantage over Bayern Munich dwindle further away.
It’s the club’s fifth game without a win in all competitions and signals a concerning slide in form that could prove crucial. Just three points now separate defending champions Bayern from their black and yellow rivals, a meagre amount considering Dortmund held a nine-point buffer in December.
Lucien Favre’s side were once again missing injured captain Marco Reus from the squad, while fellow forward Paco Alcacer had to make do with a place on the bench. The absence of their two top goalscorer saw a toothless Dortmund fumble their way through as they attempted to break down a determined defensive performance from Nuremberg.
The cellar-dwellers surprised in the opening stages, with Hanno Behrens twice going close with strong headers in the 28th minute. The first was saved by the once again reliable Roman Bürki, the second from the resulting corner sailed just over the bar.
Dortmund soon exerted their dominance, however, but could still not find a way through. Mario Götze missed a few decent opportunities, while Jadon Sancho was controversially denied a penalty in the 34th minute. Full credit must go to Christian Mathenia, however, as the Nuremberg keeper produced a great reflex save to deny Götze again just before half-time.
In the second half, Dortmund continued to frustrate, though they did have the ball in the net thanks to substitute Jacob Bruun Larsen after 87 minutes. Unfortunately for the guests, fellow substitute Alcacer was rightly adjuged to be offside in the build-up.
After 90 minutes, Dortmund were unable to find holes in a defense that has conceded an incredible 46 goals in 22 matches now. The last time these two sides met, in late September, Dortmund ran out comfortable 7-0 winners. A scoreline which could have been much more emphatic.
The dip in form represents a dramatic slide, and this latest slip-up will be of particular concern for Favre. Five games without a win will rest heavy on the players’ shoulders and Bayern are now just one win away from catching up in the title race.
If Dortmund are to retain hopes of winning a first Bundesliga trophy since 2012, they will need to bounce back immediately against Bayer Leverkusen on Sunday.