Borussia Dortmund's season is coming off the rails. Their Bundesliga lead is gone and they are out of the Champions League. Lucien Favre needs to solve these problems in order to keep Dortmund's title hopes alive.
Get Alcacer firing again
Paco Alcacer was on fire in the first half of the season. He constantly appeared to be a step ahead of opposing defenses with his positioning and even half chances that fell at his feet flew into the back of the net.
You just need to look at Dortmund's dramatic 4-3 win against Augsburg in October, when he came off the bench to score a second-half hat trick, to see the effect he was having.
The fact he is still Dortmund's joint top scorer in the Bundesliga after 24 matchdays — both he and Marco Reus have 13 goals — shows how effective he was.
But the goals have dried up. He has scored just one goal in his last nine outings. What makes things worse is that he is the only out-and-out striker head coach Lucien Favre has at his disposal.
If Dortmund are to hold on to the Bundesliga's top spot, they need to find a way to inject Alcacer with the confidence he had in the first half of the season. The primary focus should be getting more service to the former Barcelona man in the box — when his goal-poaching skills are put to best use.
Keep Marco Reus on the field
Has a captain ever been so important to his team's chances of winning the Bundesliga? Marco Reus had a fantastic start to the season after Favre gave him handed the armband at the beginning of the season. He managed to avoid the muscle injuries that had plagued him in previous seasons to lead Dortmund to their nine point lead.
But the side's downturn in form has loosely coincided with his latest hamstring injury, which kept him out for four games. Dortmund's average points per game without Reus dropped from 2.4 to 1.7, and they struggled to create quality chances without his attacking play.
Reus is back in the side, and helped them put in a controlling display in a 1-0 loss to Tottenham in the Champions League on Tuesday, even if they end up on the wrong side of the result.
But if he is to continue inspiring the Dortmund, he will need to stay on the pitch. His fitness should remain a huge concern for Favre.
Perhaps in games like the one against Tottenham, which was lost shortly after halftime, or when Dortmund are two or more goals up, the manager will have to think about protecting Reus more.
The Tottenham defeat may have highlighted Dortmund's lack of killer instinct in front of goal, but arguably it was their defense that suffered the worst moment.
The goal from Tottenham striker Harry Kane showed their lack of experience at the back. He was left completely on his own in the middle of Dortmund's defensive line before turning to shoot.
Julian Weigl, a 23-year-old midfielder, is currently being asked to fill in central defense. Veteran wing defender Lukasz Piszczek. Dortmund's oldest squad member at 33, has been sidelined for the last six games with a foot injury and won't be available against Stuttgart. Before his injury he had contributed six assists and a goal this season.
Piszczek's replacement for the second-round Champions League tie, Marius Wolf, is still transitioning into a defensive winger and looked out of place, especially when trying to combine with Jadon Sancho. Pulling players out of position to fill in the defense is currently costing Dortmund dear, and Favre needs to find a solution quickly.