Borussia Dortmund has the “most important week of the season so far” behind it, but there is still no real trend to be seen. Raphael Guerreiro proves he’s no defender and Jude Bellingham is chasing his peak form. The findings after BVB’s 2: 2 in the Revierderby at Schalke.
BVB and the “most important week of the season so far”
Won 2-1 against Leipzig, lost 2-0 at Chelsea and eliminated from the Champions League, plus the 2-2 in the Revierderby at FC Schalke 04 – so what’s next for Borussia Dortmund? A question that the Dortmunders asked themselves and that can be answered clearly, at least in the case of the premier class: no longer there.
“We sat down after the game against Hoffenheim and said that this will probably be the most important week of the season so far. In these three games you will see a tendency to see how things will continue,” said BVB coach Edin Terzic said ten days ago. Now the week with the three important games, which was previously described as potentially groundbreaking, is over and the report for the black and yellow is poor.
The win against Leipzig was flattering, the bankruptcy against the Blues deserved and the two points lost with arch-rivals were enormously unnecessary – even in the race for the championship title there was an emotional damper in the Revierderby of all places. So this week’s result is definitely room for improvement, but is the status quo really bad when it comes to the league?
“In the last few weeks, topics have come up again and again – such as whether we are ready for the championship,” said Terzic sky. “We have always said that we have to remain humble and still have to turn off our own issues.”
BVB: The pronounced winning mentality is still missing
BVB is still undefeated in Germany in 2023 and that’s one of the reasons why it became a candidate for first place in the first place. Borussia is probably not (yet) a really mature top team that has staying power and a strong winning mentality. So humility is good for the squad, although the anger on Saturday evening rightly outweighs it.
“We gave away two points, but otherwise we’re right on track,” commented sports director Sebastian Kehl after he recalled the last eight wins in a row. Nevertheless, he does not hope “that these two points will hurt us completely in the end”.
Wonders in what ways they might hurt. If you look at Dortmund’s goals for the season, it is currently not possible to draw a conclusion as to how the season could be evaluated at the end. At European level, after the embarrassing last year, they have at least rehabilitated themselves and regained some of the reputation they had lost. At least reaching the final counts in the cup, which is undoubtedly made more difficult by the upcoming away game at RB Leipzig.
BVB: The rest of the program in the Bundesliga
|25||1. FC Cologne (H)|
|26||Bayern Munich (A)|
|27||Union Berlin (H)|
|28||VfB Stuttgart (A)|
|29||Eintracht Frankfurt (H)|
|30||VfL Bochum (A)|
|31||VfL Wolfsburg (H)|
|32||Borussia M’Gladbach (H)|
|33||FC Augsburg (A)|
|34||Mainz 05 (H)|
BVB: Next week of truth after the international break
The winning streak helped in the league that the inevitable CL qualification was achieved in the end. The lead in fifth place could be reduced to five points, but it seems more than feasible to end up in the target corridor. That would then be rated as a decent year, since it would mean the necessary increase compared to the previous season and you are in a period of upheaval characterized by many injuries and new appointments at numerous levels.
Finally, the emphasis in Terzic’s sentence of March 2 was also on the word “so far”. Because he added: “We hope that there will be even more important weeks.” It is already clear that this hope will be fulfilled.
After the international break, there are three games in seven days: the top game at Bayern, the aforementioned cup duel in Leipzig and the encounter at home against pursuers Union Berlin. There is a good chance that significantly more than one trend will then be discernible.
BVB: Raphaël Guerreiro is not a defender!
Matthias Sammer contributed on Tuesday in his role as a TV expert Prime video said you know it well enough. Dortmund’s external advisor was asked about Raphaël Guerreiro, who played at left-back as usual against Chelsea and not only had significant problems on his side in the first 45 minutes.
Sammer didn’t want to give a specific answer. What he said sounded more like the motto: We don’t have to talk about Guerreiro’s defensive weaknesses, they are well known. Sammer is right about that, but that doesn’t change the fact that the Portuguese has played as a full-back most of the time in the seven years he’s been playing for BVB. And as such, you shouldn’t have any defensive weaknesses.
Thomas Tuchel was the first and basically only Dortmund coach who knew directly: Guerreiro is not a defender. Tuchel used him in midfield in the left half-space, so that Guerreiro could always move to the center. There he shone with strong performances – just like he did on Saturday against Schalke.
Since Guerreiro played as a left-eighth and for the first time this season not as a left-back. The result: The 29-year-old scored a great goal and set up the lead. It was his fifth shack in the Revierderby, which together with the three assists no one has managed in this particular game since data collection began in 2003/2004.
BVB: Guerreiro lacks the important attributes against the ball
“He was active in ball actions. It was also a game in which we wanted to try to introduce a football element in midfield because of Schalke’s man-orientation. He didn’t just do that very, very well because of his goal,” the sporting director praised him throat.
Guerreiro has been named the best footballer in the squad for years and it is indeed a feast for the eyes with which technique the national player handles the ball. He is a real gambler who has a high level of understanding of the game and intuitively creates advantages for himself with free movements – but above all on the offensive.
The bottom line is that he often acts neatly to solidly against the ball, but more often sleepily and passively. Since he lacks the most important attributes such as duel strength, greed and intransigence.
Guerreiro’s contract expires at the end of the season. With the impending signing of Gladbach’s Ramy Bensebaini and the winter transfer of Julian Ryerson, it’s very possible Guerreiro played his last derby on Saturday.
It was good business for BVB, no question. But the phlegm that he was never able to get rid of will probably be his undoing as he builds up the “new” Borussia. Until then, however, Terzic should think twice about leaving Guerreiro in midfield if possible.
BVB: Jude Bellingham is chasing his top form
Only Nico Schlotterbeck has played more for Dortmund this season than Jude Bellingham: the central defender has a whopping 52-minute lead. With ten competitive goals, Bellingham are the club’s top scorer and there’s no denying that he’s had an outstanding season in which he’s made another leap forward.
The Englishman scored nine of these ten goals in the past half-year. The Bellingham from the first half of the season has been lost a little bit lately. Despite his never-ending commitment, you sometimes notice that he has to pay tribute to the stress and high intensity of his playing style in the current phase of the season.
“Of course he played a lot,” said coach Terzic, asked a question and answered it himself. “And why? Because he’s just good.” Kehl also commented on Bellingham: “Perhaps he’s missing a goal at one point or another, which he scored more often in the first half. He works, he does and does, he wants and wants. Nevertheless, there are phases , where that’s okay too. You also have to admit that a player doesn’t always play at the highest level. I know with him that he works hard on himself and then it goes on.”
BVB: Bellingham is struggling with a knee problem
What the 19-year-old also lacks from time to time is the necessary clarity in his game. He then becomes too lax in possession and tries to do something special instead of playing the simple, obvious pass. This playfulness sometimes drives him into actions in which he wants to bang his head through the wall against several teammates – and recently that hasn’t been quite as common.
The fact that Bellingham is chasing his top form may also have something to do with an injury. He has worn a bandage around his left knee since the first leg against Chelsea. “He’s been doing it for a few days now,” Kehl soothed, but then became clearer: “To be honest, he’s had regular treatment for the last few weeks. That may end up costing one or two percent. We Hope we can get this sorted out quickly.”
When asked if it was an injury, Kehl thought for a while and then took a deep breath. “As long as he can play, everything is fine,” said the sporting director. With a view to the international break, in which Bellingham will be challenged in two games with England, and the subsequent smash against FC Bayern, it might make sense to give the midfielder a break in the upcoming match against Cologne.