Borussia Dortmund: What a difference a month can make | Sports| German football and major international sports news | DW | 18.10.2017
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Borussia Dortmund: What a difference a month can make

After a surprisingly poor performance saw BVB draw against APOEL in the Champions League, whatever may have been left of the early-season hype that had surrounded the club has vanished. Are Peter Bosz's plans unraveling?

Borussia Dortmund's season has a very different look to it compared to one month ago. Six points adrift in Champions League Group H and suddenly looking over their shoulder in the Bundesliga, Peter Bosz's side has started to stumble. Defensive concerns and a stifled attack have left BVB asking; where do we go from here?

The simple answer to that question is Frankfurt on Saturday, where they will hope to drastically improve on their performance in Cyprus. BVB's sporting director, Michael Zorc, had called for more aggression and robustness before Tuesday's game. Afterwards, he found himself uttering the words: "In the coming weeks, it'll be about securing third place" – which would see BVB remain in international compeititon beyond the group stage, albeit in the Europa League.

Even if Marc Bartra had kept his injury-time effort under the bar, the three points wouldn't have been able to disguise another sluggish outing. Against an opponent who only managed one goal in six games when they were last in the Champions League group stage, Dortmund failed to convert 73-percent possession and 11 corners into anything more than Sokratis' headed goal.

Read more: Abject Dortmund face early exit after APOEL draw

Concern over stagnant play in the final third may have been first visible against Augsburg on Matchday 7 in the Bundesliga, but this time Dortmund didn't even have a win to hide behind.

It wasn't just in attack that Dortmund were found wanting either. With Marc Bartra suprisingly preferred to Jeremy Toljan at right back and the captain, Marcel Schmelzer, returning to the starting lineup from injury, Dortmund looked like they were still finding their feet.

And then there was Roman Bürki, whose inexplicable error led to APOEL's opening goal and summed up Dortmund's slump in one eight-second spell of madness. All goalkeepers make mistakes in their careers, but it doesn't take a keeper to know that those who keep making errors don't stay at the top for very long. This mistake isn't Bürki's first and the patience of Dortmund fans is waning.

Since the 14-goal, three-game winning streak in the Bundesliga in mid-September, Dortmund have lost two, drawn one and won just one (that game in Augsburg) in all competitions. In a sport in which the narrative changes by the week, avoiding any talk of a dip in form is impossible.

Major upheaval

The excitement from that great run a month ago made the scale of change at the club easy to forget. Not only do Borussia Dortmund have a new head coach, but they also have seven new signings and a number of players returning from injuries that were so long-term, that it almost seems like they too are new to the team. And some of the younger players are taking on new, more senior roles in the team.

The club is coming off a difficult summer in which a successful but intense head coach (Thomas Tuchel) was sacked and the saga of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's would-be departure from the club dragged on for weeks. Amid all of this upheaval, it should no surprise that 12 games into the new season, they're still making adjustments.

With 13 games left in 2017, including three in Europe and a second-round tie in the German Cup, every possibility still lies ahead for Dortmund. Perhaps exiting the Champions League will benefit their push for the Bundesliga title, perhaps Europa League glory beckons. Whichever road this teams ends up going down, there will likely be more bumps along the way.

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