Only one point from outsiders Bochum – Dortmund’s away weakness remains a mystery and could become the most important factor in the fight for the championship.
Even long after the end of the game, Sebastian Kehl didn’t want to calm down. In the mixed zone in the belly of the former Bochum Ruhr Stadium, Dortmund’s otherwise level-headed sports director started a veritable rant. “Cheeky, negligent, cowardly and wrong” was one of the many unflattering attributes he found for Sascha Stegmann. In Kehl’s opinion, the referee had actively intervened in the title race by making three wrong decisions.
Kehl’s indignation was understandable, all of the scenes mentioned are open to discussion: the offense in front of the goal, the unchecked foul in the penalty area, a penalty that was not awarded in the final minute. However, she was obscured by the fact that BVB had failed at relegation candidate VfL Bochum primarily due to their own shortcomings. The fact that Borussia Dortmund is in danger of losing the lead in the table four games before the end of the season after a meager 1-1 draw is down to the team itself: due to a lack of structure in the hectic second half and enormous deficits in efficiency.
BVB: Away weakness remains a mystery
It’s the inexplicable weakness in away games that could keep Dortmund off the path to the ninth championship. Already in the first half of the season, BVB had accumulated a much too high mortgage of five bankruptcies away from home. The title aspirant has been waiting for a threesome abroad for four Bundesliga games in a row. BVB conceded a whopping ten goals.
At 2:2 in the derby against Schalke, BVB threw away the victory carelessly, at 2:4 at Bayern there was the obligatory smack, which could have been even worse. Then Dortmund imploded out of nowhere in Stuttgart: Despite being outnumbered, VfB, who were struggling to survive, scored three goals. The fact that the Bochumers, who were anything but strong at home, only conceded one goal is hardly a glimmer of hope.
In all competitions, the Westphalians haven’t won away for six games and conceded 14 goals – the despondent appearances in the Champions League at Chelsea and against RB Leipzig in the DFB Cup fit the picture: Dortmund abroad remains a mystery.
BVB: Brandt has been weak since injury
They didn’t even play that bad in Bochum. The team of coach Edin Terzic had digested the early deficit caused by the dream goal by VfL captain Anthony Losilla and quickly found the right answer with the dust-off of the again strong Karim Adeymi. But then BVB struggled with usury, their own nerves and had the misfortune that Bochum keeper Manuel Riemann had a great evening.
Thanks to its race to catch up at the beginning of the year, Dortmund is playing for the championship – and continues to do so despite losing points in the small derby. But apparently the team is not yet ready to simply push away the supposedly small opponents with the self-confidence of a title candidate, to confidently disregard poor referee performance or to be independent of three big chances that have been missed. That is also part of being a master.
Especially in the control center, BVB is too unstable. Julian Brandt was one of the heroes of the catch-up race at the beginning of the year, he probably permanently pushed Marco Reus out of the starting XI. But since his injury, he hasn’t really gotten into step. Just like the captain (and several other BVB colleagues), the fine technician has to put up with the accusation of not holding back enough in tight games. Borussia 2023 is still “work in progress”, a team in transition and, strictly speaking, only a premature title candidate by Bavaria’s grace.
BVB: Bellingham does not live up to its own standards
Dortmund’s difficult dance for self-confidence is probably best reflected in Jude Bellingham at the moment. During the week he publicly criticizes the team’s tendency towards arrogance, only to feel it as an insult to his majesty when he doesn’t get free kicks for lost, tough duels on the difficult terrain in Bochum.
The bundle of energy doesn’t help anyone if it sits in the center circle and laments instead of directly chasing the wild ball like it did weeks ago. An understandable behavior in view of his steep development to become a shooting star coveted throughout Europe – but there is still a lot to do for high-flyers Bellingham.
“We have to digest that first,” said sports director Kehl after the setback in Bochum. BVB has time for this with a home game doubler. With two victories in the feel-good atmosphere of the former Westfalenstadion against Wolfsburg and Gladbach, Dortmund can position itself for the exciting showdown in the league final. On the penultimate day of the game, the biggest test for black and yellow awaits: the game at FC Augsburg – anyway not a favorite opponent of Dortmund – while competitor FC Bayern has to play against RB Leipzig.
BVB: fearful opponents Augsburg – no déjà vu!
Even in the narrow 4-3 win in the first leg, BVB had a lot of trouble with coach Enrico Maassen’s team, who coached Dortmund’s second team for two years. Hardly any team in the past has been so good at turning the Borussia virtues of the Klopp era against their inventors so well: dragging the playfully superior opponent down to their own level, involving them in small things and in many trifles that distract from the game .
The fighting spirit of a team fighting for relegation in front of a heated crowd – this mixture cost Dortmund the championship in Augsburg in 2018/19. At that time, disaster took its course with a 2-1 bankruptcy at FCA: BVB gambled away their full nine-point lead and had to bow again to industry giant Bayern. All BVB fans can be curious to see whether their heroes will be able to hold their own against this in a championship-worthy manner.
Nothing is lost for the ambitious Westphalians yet. Even Munich in its current form is still capable of a slip. Kehl’s angry speech after the Bochum game was probably more of a calculated outburst. An outlet in itself, and protection for its players, who have to be sworn into the role of the angry hunter as quickly and effectively as possible. The fact that Dortmund would end up being the worst champions since 2010 with a maximum of 73 points – at that time Bayern with 70 points – doesn’t matter to them.