Borussia Dortmund’s Julian Brandt: “I’d rather play badly and win than shine and lose.”

STUTTGART, GERMANY - NOVEMBER 11: Julian Brandt of Borussia Dortmund looks on prior to the Bundesliga match between VfB Stuttgart and Borussia Dortmund at MHPArena on November 11, 2023 in Stuttgart, Germany. (Photo by Adam Pretty/Getty Images)
STUTTGART, GERMANY - NOVEMBER 11: Julian Brandt of Borussia Dortmund looks on prior to the Bundesliga match between VfB Stuttgart and Borussia Dortmund at MHPArena on November 11, 2023 in Stuttgart, Germany. (Photo by Adam Pretty/Getty Images) /

Borussia Dortmund’s Julian Brandt commented on the speculation and criticism surrounding the squad in recent weeks due to their performances.

Borussia Dortmund’s Julian Brandt has spoken to the media regarding Dortmund’s last run of results. The criticism, while warranted according to Brandt, has been blown out of proportion:

"“If you don’t deliver results, it’s normal for things to be questioned. The defeat against Bayern was our first of the season and the second of the entire year – in November. And we can’t present ourselves like we did in Stuttgart. But you have to put the whole thing into perspective: We are currently in first place in the Champions League and are in the last 16 of the DFB Cup. But nevertheless, there are always topics that come up that make you think: Phew….”"

Brandt is correct in his assessment of that fact that  the team is well situated in other competitions. They are fairing quite well in the vaunted “group of death” in the Champions League and the DFB Pokal is certainly still very much within their reach, but the fact remains that their performances in the league will inevitably be scrutinized with a fine tooth comb, particularly because last season they established themselves as contenders for the domestic title, losing out on the last day.

The glum assessments surrounding these performances are built upon the bedrock of disappointment that stems from that loss on the final day of the season. Their push to get to that point shows what the team is capable of and clearly exacerbates the dullness of their recent performances on the pitch. Taking a step back from those performances and showing a different face to the team that has been dubbed resilient in recent weeks will always garner criticism.

Brandt also made a comment on how he’d simply prefer to play poorly and win than playing stylishly and losing:

"“People have been moaning about our style of play for weeks – even when we win games. But that’s totally unimportant at this stage. I’d rather play badly and win than shine and lose. We have to get that into our heads. We won a lot of games last season, which made all of our fans happy. Me too. But that’s not the norm. Sometimes it’s also good to win games 1:0. Even if our goal is to score more goals again, to show more beautiful soccer and to perform differently than in Stuttgart.”"

At the end of the day points are what matter so Brandt’s statement at face value makes sense, but recent performances have shown that the style of play Dortmund have been employing has its limits. The game against Stuttgart was neither a pretty performance nor was it an effective one, so the complaints in question about Dortmund’s style of play are validated, especially if this non “sexy football” isn’t sustainable in the long run from a points-gained basis. Hence the criticism isn’t necessarily about “sexy football” at all, merely a criticism of the effectiveness surrounding their current showings on the pitch.

The other snag in this argument of Brandt’s is that if Dortmund get into a habit of struggling in the league, this could bleed over into their form in the other competitors just as easily. The weaknesses in play highlighted against Stuttgart are by no means blips but symptoms of a longer-standing tendency for the team to build themselves up with a strong showing, only to relapse and perform below their own standards.

Even if we take into account the fact that Dortmund have only lost twice this season and calendar year, there were still many draws this season as well as the season prior that didn’t show the team in the best of lights. The draws in question could have severely changed the course of their season had they been wins.

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The games against Bochum and Heidenheim this season, as well as their clashes with Bochum and Schalke last season, are examples of detrimental results despite being draws, especially when looked at based on the context of the position in which these results placed the team. It is up to the players to focus on improving on current results rather than pointing to this record as a reason to quell the alarm bells. Julian Brandt is a phenomenal player at a club that can and should strive for more, and it is my hope that despite the difficulty of the games ahead they truly do bounce back and push for the trophies and silverware this club has been bereft of to a substantial degree.