Borussia Dortmund travel to Hertha Berlin on Saturday [15.30 CET kick-off] for what is a do-or-die match for Lucien Favre. Here is what he and sporting director Michael Zorc told a news conference on Friday.
Favre confirmed on Friday that Paco Alcácer (gastritis) and Thomas Delaney (out with an ankle injury until January) will be out due to injury. “As for the rest, we have to wait and see for the final team training,” he said.
According to Ruhr Nachrichten, Julian Weigl did not travel with the team. Instead, Tobias Raschl, who was in the matchday squad in the scoreless Revierderby and is playing for the under-23, travelled with the team.
Jacob Bruun Larsen is also out with a knee injury.
If dealing with a terrible streak of results weren’t enough, Borussia Dortmund also have to deal with unnerving sideshows. On Wednesday, Jadon Sancho started on the bench against Barcelona because he wasn’t “focused and ready” according to Favre.
We later learned that the 19-year-old showed up late to the team briefing. WDR also reported that Sancho also missed the breakfast and the team’s warm-up ahead of the UEFA Champions League match but sporting director Zorc refuted these claims. The 57-year-old said: “This isn’t entirely correct as it has been reported. We have already discussed this issue internally with [Jadon] and with the team and so for us, this matter has been dealt with. We are looking ahead now. Jadon is a regular part of the team.”
The Independent reported that Dortmund are ready to sell Sancho in the winter but these claims are unlikely to be true. Zorc said: “I believe that Jadon showed a great reaction after his substitution [at the Camp Nou]. His performance was very good. The questions today basically want to solicit an answer about whether [he] is ‘pushing’ for a winter transfer. I do not have that impression after the many talks we had with [Jadon] and also his agency. I hope that he reaches his full performance potential tomorrow.”
Putting lipstick on a pig
It appears that both Favre and Zorc had a more positive impression of the team’s performance at the Camp Nou than others.
“We can’t criticise the team for the last match in Barcelona,” Favre said about the 3-1 loss in which Barca hardly had to play their best football to deal with the Black and Yellows, adding: “We have to continue to play like this. When you analyse the game, you see that we have two big chances in the first half and then again, during the final 25 minutes, we have three or four big opportunities. It’s not all negative. We didn’t play poorly in Barcelona and I think we have to see that in a more positive light.”
Zorc added to Favre’s summary: “We’ve sold ourselves a bit short because we gave the goals away too easily due to individual errors. Mats very self-critically conceded his error before the second goal. We managed to create a few chances. And after all, we played in Barcelona and not on some random meadow. Now, we want and must turn our form around. That’s a difficult task in Berlin, who just installed a new head coach [with Jürgen Klinsmann]. We hope and expect our team to play in a way that we can fly home with a smile on our faces.”
Hans-Joachim Watzke set an implicit ultimatum at Sunday’s member’s assembly when he said: “At the end of the day, football is defined by results. […] We have to show in the next two difficult games at the Nou Camp and away to Hertha Berlin that we enter these games with an attitude. We are still Borussia Dortmund but that has to be visible.”
Favre was asked about him being in the hot seat ahead of the Hertha game. He replied: “I’m focused on what’s essential. My own situation is irrelevant. It’s part of the business nowadays and it happens quickly if you don’t get the results. I accept that but I continue because I have trust in my team and in myself.”
Meanwhile, Zorc was asked what speaks for Favre still being on the bench for the following match against Düsseldorf. But the sporting director was not willing to make any guarantees.
He said: “Everything about that subject has already been said at the member’s assembly. We continue to have trust in Lucien and he continues to work very hard. We hope for the turnaround but we’ll stay in reality and won’t get into the subjunctive.”
What about Marco?
It is painstakingly obvious that Marco Reus is not in the best form of his life. In 17 appearances this season he scored 7 goals and picked up one assist. However, it is fair to say that BVB’s short-lived upward trend in form and the coinciding three-game winning streak against Gladbach in the DFB Pokal, VfL Wolfsburg in the league and Inter Milan in the Champions League correlated with Reus’ injury that allowed Julian Brandt to play as no. 10.
So it was fair to ask whether Favre would consider benching the team captain for the sake of letting Brandt play in his best position but the 62-year-old shot that down immediately: “No, Marco Reus is very important for us. He made the difference for us so often. It doesn’t matter which player you talk about, none will be in the best form all the time. It sometimes takes a few weeks for them to regain their form. That’s not only something that Dortmund have to deal with but every club.”