Picking up the pieces
Going to Munich last week there was a sense of foreboding among many Borussia Dortmund fans. There was a half acceptance that a win might just be beyond but there was still hope. Maybe we would go to The Allianz Arena and pull off a shock. Maybe we still had enough about us to upset this spectacular Bayern Munich side. Maybe we could be the immovable object to stop the unstoppable force. Alas, it wasn’t to be. Christ, was it not to be.
Nobody foresaw what came after the kickoff. 3-0 down within fifteen minutes. 5-0 down at half-time. Final score – Bayern Munich 6-0 Borussia Dortmund.
There was a sense of shock on the pitch and it was evident in the players faces as they walked off the pitch. The eleven men in black and yellow had been humiliated at the hands of their greatest rivals. Bayern have been fantastic this season but nobody thought they would win this game with such a huge scoreline, the effects of which are yet to be seen. That is until tomorrow when we welcome VfB Stuttgart to Signal Iduna Park.
Fingers have been pointed in many directions since last but the man taking most of the brunt of it is Peter Stoeger. The Austrian won’t need telling that it wasn’t good enough and improvements are needed. During his pre-match press conference Stoeger was keen to iterate that all is not lost. “On the one hand we’ve had a 6-0 defeat to process,” said Stoeger, “but on the other we’ve had league matches that haven’t been so unsuccessful.” Stoeger is also aware of the visitors good run lately and seemed aware of their tactical flexibility.
Another thing on the managers mind was the amount of injuries currently inflicted upon his side. Marco Reus and Omer Toprak are available for selection again following minor injuries picked up before the international break. Although they may not start this game, one or both of them could play some part. Also back in training are Shinji Kagawa and Andriy Yarmolenko. Kagawa has been missing since February but resumed training this week. So did Yarmolenko who has been out of action since the middle of January. Again, neither are likely to start this game but could feature at some point. Erik Durm and Sebastien Rode will miss the rest of the season thanks to their respective injuries, and Dan-Axel Zagadou is still suffering from a muscular problem which will probably rule him out for another week at least.
Stuttgart themselves have only one injury to contend with for this game. Timo Baumgartl has missed the past could of games with a concussion and is ruled out of this one too. Andreas Beck does return from suspension though and is likely to complete a back consisting also of Benjamin Pavard and Holger Badstuber. Also likely to feature for the visitors is Jacob Brunn Larsen, on loan from ourselves.
Having had a decent start to the season, Stuttgart dropped off the pace halfway through. Their poor run of results and flirt with relegation over Christmas saw the end of Hannes Wolfe’s reign at The MercedesBenz Arena. Tayfun Corkut was drafted in in January to save their flailing season and has managed to do so. He has made his side an awkward one to face and have picked up some impressive results along the way. They have now won their last three away games and Corkut is feeling confident ahead of this game. “We will not be adjusting our target of always wanting to take points – that takes priority. [We will be] travelling to Dortmund brimming with confidence.” Korkut added: “We’ve secured three consecutive wins away from home and we will be capable of competing there too.”
Having encountered difficult times earlier in the season Stuttgart are now on an eight match unbeaten run. As impressive as that is, we ourselves were unbeaten in our previous twelve up until last week. All good things must come to an end and, for Stuttgart, there would be no shame in that being the case on Sunday at Signal Iduna Park. For BVB, a win and a convincing one are surely the order of the day. Putting the debacle of last Saturday behind us is imperative. It is likely to be the final nail in Peter Stoeger’s coffin but he still has a job to do. As he said himself, we went into that game on the back of two good home wins. Was last week just a blip or is the start of a slippery slope that will see us finish outside of the Champions League places this season? Only time will tell and this game will be a big indicator either way.