Key takeaways from Borussia Dortmund’s first half of the season

Borussia Dortmund players look dejected after their game against Sporting (Photo by Eric Verhoeven/Soccrates/Getty Images)
Borussia Dortmund players look dejected after their game against Sporting (Photo by Eric Verhoeven/Soccrates/Getty Images) /
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Axel Witsel. (Photo by Alex Grimm/Getty Images)
Axel Witsel. (Photo by Alex Grimm/Getty Images) /

Dortmund’s defensive frailties are ever-present

A round up of Dortmund’s first half of the season would be incomplete if we didn’t mention the fact that the defense is still as problematic as it was, if not more so, than in previous seasons. Since the start of the season, Dortmund have allowed a total of 26 goals in 17 games. To allow this many goals in the first half of the season and remain second in the league is nothing short of a miracle.

There are quite a few reasons behind Dortmund’s current leakiness. They haven’t been one of the best defensive teams in years, but this year in particular has been tough in part due to the injury crisis previously mentioned. It’s hard for any team to gain any synergy in the back-line when there is constant rotation. When looking at the current squad, Mats Hummels and Manuel Akanji would be the first choice central defensive pairing when healthy and available. The problem is, thats rarely been the case this season.

The same goes for the left back position. Raphaël Guerreiro has been out injured quite frequently over the course of the season so far, which has left Dortmund very thin in this position as well. While Rapha himself isn’t exactly the most defensively oriented player in his own right, his replacement, Nico Schulz, has had very few bright performances on either the attacking or defensive front.

On top of injuries and the unavailability of starting defensive players, those who would be a natural fit to replace them in the starting 11 have also been out injured. Dan-Axel Zagadou, for example, only made it back onto the pitch at the tail end of the Hinrunde. His return also offered little respite as his minutes still needed to be managed, leaving the defensive pairing of Marin Pongracic and defensive midfielder Axel Witsel to play together centrally, which is almost as makeshift as it gets for Dortmund.

The lack of any viable depth also made sure that when fit, neither Hummels nor Akanji had any time to be rested. They were consistently on the front lines in every game, which likely did little to help maintain their fitness in the long run. It is because of this that Dortmund need to look for quality depth options as quickly as possible. While I personally want to believe that Zagadou can become a viable defensive option, his injury record suggests Dortmund may need more than just him to cover the position.

This is why links to players of Nico Schlotterbeck‘s and Konstantinos Mavropanos’ caliber are so important. Dortmund need to look into getting in more defensive quality to help stop the incessant flow of goals plaguing them. It’s insane for a keeper of Gregor Kobel’s quality to have only 3 clean sheets in the league considering the performances that he has put in for Dortmund since joining in the summer. Many of the goals that have gone in have been a result of the Swiss International not having the proper personnel in front of him to help subdue the amount of shots coming his way. One can hope that Dortmund follow through on this interest in defensive players sooner rather than later.