It Has Been A Very Eventful Season So Far For Borussia Dortmund With Highs And Lows Aplenty.
As expected before the season, Borussia Dortmund have indeed staked a claim to win the Bundesliga, and are locked in the title fight. But they have also failed to live up to the high expectations that their excellent transfer business brought.
With the Bundesliga currently suspended, it remains to be seen if the title race will be decided or not. But with the campaign currently at a halt, we look at some of the winners and losers from Borussia Dortmund’s season so far.
Winner: Jadon Sancho
Jadon Sancho has without a doubt been the MVP of Borussia Dortmund’s season so far. The Englishman has carried the team at times, and his performances have been nothing short of world-class. His goal (17) and assist (16) figures tell all you need to know about just how good he has been.
The 19 year old did have a slow start to the season when questions were raised about his attitude. But he has answered his critics with his performances on the pitch, and has kept his team in with the chance of winning the Bundesliga title. Dortmund wouldn’t have been in the race for top four, let alone in the title fight without him.
Even when Sancho isn’t at his best, he still produces key goals or game changing moments for his side. That’s just how good he is. He is well on his way to becoming one of the world’s best players.
His success has also generated interest from a number of big clubs, and he is now likely to seal a summer move away from Borussia Dortmund for a fee in excess of 100 million euros.
Loser: Lucien Favre
It is hard to remember the last time Borussia Dortmund had a squad this good on paper. The team that reached the Champions League final in 2013 was indeed special, but it can be argued that this team has more combined talent and ability than that one.
Yet, Borussia Dortmund sit four points behind Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga table and have already been knocked out of the Champions League and the DFB Pokal.
With the team underperforming once again, questions have to be asked about Lucien Favre and his ability to get the best out of his extremely talented squad. Favre hasn’t been helped by some of his side’s poor defensive lapses. But his tactical set-up, man-management and in-game coaching leave a lot to be desired.
Take the performance in the second leg against PSG as an example. Favre parked the bus from the off, and it was obvious by the 30th minute that his plan had failed. But it took him until the 70th minute to make his first tweak, and that too saw one attacking player replace another.
Borussia Dortmund’s away form, especially in big games, has been really poor this season. And Favre’s conservative tactics have a lot to do with that. Even in games that Dortmund have won, more often than not, the team have been rescued by moments of brilliance from one of their attacking players.
The Swiss head coach’s contract does not expire at the end of next season. But unless Dortmund win the title this year, don’t be surprised if they have a different coach in the dug-out come August.
Winners (but also losers): Borussia Dortmund fans
Borussia Dortmund fans went into a season with optimism and expectations for the first time in what felt like ages. And they had every reason to do so. The club had an excellent summer transfer window, and many even labelled the Black and Yellows as the favourites to win the Bundesliga title.
Fans have been treated to some entertaining football and lots of goals from the extremely talented attacking players at Borussia Dortmund. They have also enjoyed some incredible and memorable wins against the likes of Inter Milan and PSG in the Champions League.
But the Dortmund faithful have also witnessed some shambolic defending, conservative tactics, poor man management, laboured build-up play and below average performances against relegation threatened sides.
Life as a Borussia Dortmund fan can undoubtedly be very frustrating, with plenty of ups and downs. But if the team can end the season by lifting the Meisterschale, it will be all worth it.
Winner (but might feel like a loser): Michael Zorc
Michael Zorc has been in exceptional form over the last 18 months. It all started when the Borussia Dortmund sporting director did a brilliant overhaul of the squad before the start of last season. Then Jadon Sancho signed a new contract until 2022.
And Zorc followed that up by signing three of the Bundesliga’s best players last summer. Julian Brandt, Thorgan Hazard and Mats Hummels all arrived for relatively low prices (in today’s market) and have become key players in the team in their debut seasons.
Then Zorc pulled off his biggest masterstroke by beating the likes of Manchester United and Juventus for the signing of Erling Haaland. The highly rated striker arrived for a measly 20 million euros and has taken the league by storm since his January move.
Despite his incredible work in the transfer market, Zorc will be slightly disappointed with the performances on the pitch. Borussia Dortmund are still in the title race of course, but haven’t been able to achieve the levels and consistency that a squad of their quality should have.
He will have another busy summer with Jadon Sancho expected to leave for a mammoth fee. But don’t be surprised if Dortmund come out of next summer with a much stronger squad thanks to their excellent sporting director.
Loser: Manuel Akanji (and the frozen out players)
Manuel Akanji went into the season with high expectation that he would kick on and become one of the team’s key players. The Swiss centre-back had made an excellent start to life at Dortmund since his January 2018 move. His excellent defending and leadership earned him a lot of admirers.
That world-class potential prompted Borussia Dortmund to sell Abdou Diallo last summer, with the BVB bosses believing that Manuel Akanji and Mats Hummels would form a rock-solid partnership.
But the Swiss international has crumbled under the expectations this season, proving to be error prone and sloppy more often than not. His mistakes cost the team quite a few points, before he was eventually dropped last month. It didn’t help that Lucien Favre kept picking him when it was clear to the world that he needed dropping.
Speaking of Favre’s poor man-management, a number of players have been frozen out this season, with few departing the club in January. The likes of Nico Schulz, Mahmoud Dahoud, Mateu Morey and Leonardo Balerdi have hardly been used this season, becoming victims of their coach’s dislike for rotating and resting key players.
Winner: Lukasz Piszczek
A special mention goes to our beloved Pole, who has played like a man on a mission, especially in recent weeks. With his contract due to expire, many expected (and still expect) this season to be Piszczek’s last at Borussia Dortmund.
The 34 year old hasn’t been shy about his desire to stay on for at least another year. But he wasn’t given much of a chance to earn that new contract in the first half of the season.
That changed after the Bayer Leverkusen debacle, when Piszczek came into the back three in place of the dropped Manuel Akanji. And he has been excellent since coming back into the team, despite being asked to play in a new role. He kept Neymar quiet in the first leg of the PSG game, and has been consistently solid and reliable in every game he has played.
If this is indeed to be his final year with the Black and Yellows, Piszczek can leave knowing that he is still capable of getting the job done against quality attacking players. He may be nearing the end of his career, but Piszczek has shown the fans that he has still got it.