Borussia Dortmund′s Peter Bosz needs to build a case for the defense | Sports| German football and major international sports news | DW | 21.10.2017
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Borussia Dortmund's Peter Bosz needs to build a case for the defense

Borussia Dortmund threw away a two-goal lead in Frankfurt to make it just one win in five. Peter Bosz has built a brilliant attacking unit but they have a glaring defensive weakness. A better balance is essential.

Even before Eintracht Frankfurt’s superb second-half comeback, Saturday’s 2-2 draw had been one of the games of the season, with even more chances than Dortmund’s wildly entertaining 3-2 loss to RB Leipzig last weekend.

A Sebastian Haller penalty and Marius Wolf strike restored parity for the hosts after goals from Nuri Sahin and Max Philipp either side of the break. But in truth, just like last Saturday, this one could have finished with almost any scoreline.

Read more: BVB - What a difference a month can make

All of which is great for the neutrals. Bosz clearly wants his back four to push up the pitch in order to facilitate the counterattacking strength that has seen his side scored in all but one of their 13 games this term - and it makes for thrilling football. But on Saturday, they were once again as vulnerable at the back as they were dynamic going forward.

Early shoutouts masked problems

Their frailties were rarely mentioned as Dortmund kept clean sheets in their first five league games. But they were there. Impressive as that statistic was, those five shutouts came against five of the Bundesliga’s current bottom six. In most of those games - and particularly in the 6-1 defeat of Borussia Mönchengladbach that broke that sequence - they looked shakier than the scorelines suggested.

1. Bundesliga 9. Spieltag | Eintracht Frankfurt - Borussia Dortmund | TOR Frankfurt (Reuters/K. Pfaffenbach)

Marius Wolf's goal was his first ever

Bosz also had the advantage of being a newcomer to the league and his brand of hard pressing, quick passing, high-line football blew teams away. But every style has its disadvantage and it appears the Dutchman’s has been quickly found out.

Niko Kovac was the latest coach to establish that a simple long pass over the midfield is often enough to open Dortmund up. Frankfurt managed that in the 18th minute but Ante Rebic’s strike was disallowed. That warning wasn’t enough, Sebastien Heller almost scored from a similar pass just before the break.

Far too easy to bypass the press

The main issue with this glaring flaw is that it is so simple to exploit. A long straight ball from back to front in between opposition center back and fullback is a staple of amateur games the world over, particularly with a pacy striker to run the channels. That means even sides with limited ballplayers are able to escape Dortmund’s press and carve out chances.

Added to this structural problem, which has been exposed by every high-class side Dortmund have played this year and was a key factor in Frankfurt’s first goal, there were several occasions where basic defending was absent.

Injuries meant Bosz’ was without his four most experienced defenders (Lukasz Piszczek, Sokratis, Ömer Toprak and Marcel Schmelzer) and resulted in Neven Subotic playing his first Dortmund game since March 2016 alongside midfielder Julian Weigl.

Champions League - Apoel Nicosia vs Borussia Dortmund (picture-alliance/AP Photo/P. Karadjias)

Disappointment in Europe made things worse

The Dortmund boss said he was pleased with the pair after the game but there were several occasions where Haller and Rebic were afforded acres of space in the final third. Forwards of a slightly higher caliber would have made Dortmund pay much earlier in the match than that pair did.

Priorites, priorites

This is an exciting Dortmund side who have the tools to win any game against any team but titles are ususally won by a side capable of both attacking and defending.

“I have talked in the past about the short blanket - if you cover your head, your feet are cold; if you cover your feet, your head is cold,” said former Real Madrid boss Rafael Benitez last month, in reference to Jürgen Klopp's Liverpool. “Sometimes when you attack too much, you are exposed in defense and to find the balance is the key to have chances to win titles.”

It’s early days for Bosz, who had the joint best defensive record in the Dutch league with Ajax last season. And it’s easy to forget that this young Dortmund side is still top of the pile. But without a solution that manages to warm Dortmund’s head without putting their feet at risk of frostbite, it’s hard to see them challenging Bayern Munich's Bundesliga monopoly this season.

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