A Netflix Original
Dortmund’s season started like a Pilot episode of a new exciting TV show. New faces, returning hit actors, and everything bright and shiny. Then inevitably, around episode 6 or so, the show begins to lose its direction, they flounder with filler episodes, introduce a boring story arch, lame characters, and before the first season can even finish, you’ve lost all interest in the show.
Dortmund’s gone through this whole cycle in 12 weeks like an entire season’s worth of emotion compressed into a few weeks. Now the club sits 5th place with 1 point adrift from top 4. As winning the league becomes a distant dream, BVB needs to refocus themselves and cement a top 4 finish to salvage this season.
Episode 1: the Pilot
BVB won 6 out of their first 7 league matches with 1 scoreless draw against Freiburg. Several of those wins were decisive victories: 3-0 over Wolfsburg, 5-0 over Cologne, and 6-1 over M. Gladbach. The first months of the season saw the stars come out and play: Aubameyang scoring 7 goals in his first 5 appearances, Maximilian Philipp scoring 6 goals in 8 appearances, and the club recording 10 different goal scorers in 12 matches. The first two months of the season looked like Dortmund had the league in the bag. With a secure hold on first place, BVB turned their gaze towards Champions League but things were not what they seemed. The night was dark and full of terror.
Episode 4: Winter is Coming
After that great opening run of form, Dortmund has yet to get a win since September, recording 4 loses and 1 draw out of their last 5 league matches. BVB became Munich’s plaything during the 3-1 loss at home. It all laid bare this weekend as BVB was dispatched in a 2-1 away loss to Stuttgart.
Their Champion’s League campaign was an utter disappointment from the very start. 2 opening losses, followed by 2 draws, and BVB immediately dropped to the bottom of the group. With the second legs of Tottenham and Real Madrid still ahead of them, BVB would need a miracle and then some to make it out of the group. And if current form is anything to go by, Champions League is a foregone conclusion. A better use of resources would be to focus on league play and be sure to secure a top 4 finish. Death and heartbreak are all that is left in Champions League this year for Dortmund.
The Beheading of Ned Stark
After Jurgen Klopp, the manager position at Dortmund is starting to look like a revolving door as questions about job security begin to circle around current manager Peter Bosz. The loss this weekend to Stuttgart turned the pressure up to 11 and has set the team on a bad course heading into the two extremely difficult fixtures this week.
First Dortmund must host the second leg of the UCL match against Tottenham. After what will certainly be an extremely difficult match, BVB will have to reset their sights on league play with the Schalke derby coming up this weekend—only getting 3 days rest between the two huge matches. Bosz won’t be sleeping much this week, and if the Dortmund doesn’t pick up at least one win against either Tottenham or Schalke, Bosz will likely be gone before the winter break.
The North Remembers
The news of Dortmund scout Sven Mislintat leaving for Arsenal came like a stab in the back from a Valyrian steel dagger. Mislintat was credited with creating the widely renowned youth pipeline for Dortmund who brought unbelievable players such as Aubameyang, Kagawa and Dembele. Mislintat had been with Dortmund for over a decade and had a hand in both the senior and youth squads. What was once Dortmund’s wizard behind the curtain has now become a Gunner, leaving BVB supporters asking loads of questions about the club’s direction.
So many variables and questions still plague the yellow and black. We aren’t even to the winter break and it feels like BVB have endured a season’s worth of setbacks—most of their own creation. The two matches this week will most certainly decide Peter Bosz near future. If he can create two solid performances, he might keep his job through winter break and get a chance in the January transfer market. If things continue on the same course, Bosz will be gone immediately. Questions still surround Aubameyang’s future heading into the January market. Will BVB keep him? With a Real Madrid side in as dire straights as Dortmund, it seems like Los Blancos will be knocking on the door again for Aubameyang. And finally, how will BVB sort out their defending problems? With an offense that is creating 2.5 goals a match, the answer to their on-pitch woes has to come in the way of a better backline and keeper. Woeful performances from Roman Burki this year have not instilled much confidence in the keeper. With a floundering manager, a shaking goalkeeper, and a leaky defense, BVB has many enemies facing them if they want to sit on the Iron Throne anytime soon.