The – finally…- last international break of the year is the best chance for us to look back at the season so far and try to identify the things that have gone well for Dortmund, as well as the areas that bare room for improvement.
Dortmund had a spectacular start in the season, building an early five-point lead ahead of their great rivals, Bayern Munich, but the momentum is now completely lost, with the black and yellows now in third place of Bundesliga and practically out of the UEFA Champions League, although they have yet to play two more games for this competition.
In this piece, we are going to cite three things that need to keep going for Borussia Dortmund and three others that need to improve, in order to find their lost form and return to title contention.
- Mark Bartra’s new position. The Spaniard has thrived lately in a right-back position. He has played five times there instead of his original centre-back position and surprisingly enough has registered one goal plus one assist. He learned football in Barcelona’s famed Academy ‘’La Masia’’ and his ball handling skills and technique are more than obvious, giving him the ability to be effective from a position that he isn’t used to playing in.
- Christian Pulisic’s rise to stardom. The American is having his season of establishment as a true quality player, able to make the difference for his side on a regular basis. He has scored two goals, assisted one, gives 1.2 key passes per game and has a whopping 3.5 dribbles per game. These are some outstanding numbers for a player at the age of 19 and the best is yet to come for one of the most gifted players of his generation.
- Dortmund’s formidable offensive line. Aubameyang leads an incredible attack for Borussia with ten goals, complemented with the likes of Yarmolenko, Pulisic, Gotze, Kagawa. They have scored 28 goals, the most in the league – one more from Bayern. It remains to be seen if their offense will be enough to secure them success.
- Nuri Sahin and Gonzalo Castro as central midfielders. This pair of central midfielders has proved inconsistent. They are brilliant at handling and distributing the ball, but they lack speed and physicality to play in such a crucial area, while none of them is the typical midfield destroyer who will provide security to his defenders. Julian Weigl is perfect for this role and luckily Peter Bosz’s seems to have understood it lately.
- Dortmund’s defense. Borussia have conceded 14 goals this season. Only two teams out of the top 10 have conceded more (Gladbach and Leverkusen). Some poor defensive displays from crucial players such as Sokratis and Toprak have led to easy goals for opponents, while forwards and midfielders have to improve their defensive contribution rapidly.
- Bosz looks like he has not decided which players are the main choices for some of the positions. He has used no less than 25 players, which doesn’t help his team build chemistry and cohesion. It’s vital to have a core to build around and it’s not late for Bosz to find it if he wants his team to roll again.