Borussia Dortmund draw 2-2 at home against Werder Bremen after leading at halftime on Saturday night.
The Black and Yellows slide further down the table to 7th place, now overtaken by FC Schalke who showed all the virtues on Saturday against Leipzig that BVB are missing. Hope for an actual title race with Dortmund’s involvement is dwindling as Lucien Favre’s men have won only one game (4-0 against Leverkusen) of the last four in the Bundesliga (1 out of 5 in all competitions).
The 61-year-old made changes to last week’s starting eleven, maybe with the Champions League against Slavia Prague on Wednesday in mind.
Mario Götze made his first start of the season instead of Paco Alcácer, Lukasz Piszczek started instead of left-back Raphael Guerreiro with Achraf Hakimi moving to the left and Mahmoud Dahoud started instead of Thomas Delaney in midfield. Some were surprised to see Julian Weigl start as centre-back next to Manuel Akanji in Mats Hummels’ absence, leaving Dan-Axel Zagadou and Leonardo Balerdi on the bench.
Defence the weak link
Saturday’s Topspiel arguably was a must-win game against a Werder Bremen team that travelled to the Westfalenstadion with many injury worries in their own backline.
But, of course, it were Dortmund with the first lapse. Milot Rashica, who returned from injury just in time, pounced on Akanji’s positional error only six minutes into the match. Davy Klaassen won the ball of Witsel in BVB’s own half and one pass to his forward was enough to unlock the Black and Yellows.
Dortmund responded within two minutes with Götze scoring a rare header off a Piszczek cross to equalise in the ninth minute.
Marco Reus made it 2-1 shortly before halftime, heading the ball into the net off a Thorgan Hazard cross in the 41st minute. But whoever thought the lead would give the hosts comfort was gravely mistaken.
10 minutes into the second half, the all too predictable set-piece goal came. Josh Sargent extended a corner at the near post for Marco Friedle to tap-in at the far post. A set-piece routine that had already worked like a charm against BVB for Cologne.
The replay showed that 10 BVB players were rooted to the ground on one line while three Bremen players were all rushing toward the far post.
Sure, it was shocking how few chances the hosts created in the remaining half-hour but the more pressing issue is at the back. After six matchdays, Dortmund have already conceded nine goals. That makes them the ninth-best defence in the league, which is simply unacceptable for a team with the ambition to compete for the first place.
According to sporting director Michael Zorc, Favre was hired to “bring back a balance” to Dortmund, where success is once again built on defensive solidity. However, it takes very little to score goals against Dortmund — be it via set-pieces or on the break. It seems as though opponents need a good 10 minutes to dail up the intensity and voilà, they score.
Last season, Dortmund conceded 1.12 goals per game on average in the Hinrunde. In the Rückrunde, it were 1.56 GA/game. After six games in 2019-20, the average is at 1.5 GA/game. In other words, for Dortmund, this is the new normal.