It was just another one of those days for Borussia Dortmund. They did little wrong though, as Bayern Munich raced to a 5-1 win over Eintracht Frankfurt. Dortmund themselves beat Monchengladbach 2-0 courtesy of goals from Jadon Sancho and Marco Reus.
But the damage was done a while back by BVB. They obviously didn’t do anything wrong on Saturday, but they still have themselves to blame for their failure to win the Bundesliga title.
That too during a season when many have dubbed this to be a transition season for Bayern Munich, Dortmund failed to capitalize and slipped up at key moments throughout the campaign. During those moments, Bayern did not slip up and made up for times when they slipped up earlier in the season.
It became a sign when Tottenham breezed past Dortmund by a 4-0 scoreline in the Champions League and it was a sign of things to come. Due to Abdou Diallo’s injury, the BVB defense failed to be itself. They lacked the experience to dig games out and crippled at crucial moments.
Against Bremen, they squandered a 2 goal lead and did the same against Schalke. It happened against Hoffenheim in February. The lost a game against Fortuna Dusseldorf and failed to put Hertha Berlin away after being a goal up, conceding a stoppage-time leveler.
Bayern messed their season up early in the season, but Dortmund did the same later in the campaign. And went onto lose 5-0 against them. Doing that never wins you the league.
They have been forced to make do with a younger team a lot of times. And after a point, Favre’s substitutions became predictable. Paco Alcacer became a super-sub early on in the season, but it became obvious after a point. It lost the charm of it being a shock. And consistent injury problems for the Spaniard never really helped.
The red card to Marco Reus proved disastrous too. It saw them lose the Ruhr Valley derby against Schalke and then slip up at Bremen. A fit Diallo could have shored the backline up better, but Julian Weigl was forced to play centre-back. A centre midfielder who was linked with moves to Manchester City and United, Weigl did an alright job but it wasn’t as good as Diallo could have done.
Or perhaps, having the experience of Sokratis might have helped. Manuel Akanji too sustained an injury at one point, forcing Favre to play a completely new defense. They played Dan-Axel Zagadou and Omer Toprak at the back and it was a massive step down.
But one thing is for sure. Dortmund should not be disheartened at all. They have a very young, upcoming side despite Christian Pulisic leaving. Alexander Isak has impressed at Willem II and he will come into the first team next season.
Thorgan Hazard is being linked with a switch to Dortmund and so is Wilfried Zaha. Even if Jadon Sancho leaves, Dortmund will be fine. The foundation is certainly there. They have an identity to take forward into the future. With experience and the right recruitment, they will be back at the top again.