BVB’s loss to Mainz confirms importance of having strong core of squad players to back up the first team

Borussia Dortmund’s loss to Mainz highlights that Dortmund need to restructure not only the first team, but also add squad players capable of pshing and backing up the starting 11 when needed.
1. FSV Mainz 05 v Borussia Dortmund - Bundesliga
1. FSV Mainz 05 v Borussia Dortmund - Bundesliga / Sebastian El-Saqqa - firo sportphoto/GettyImages

Borussia Dortmund’s second-to-last game in the Bundesliga this season ended in defeat as they lost 3-0 to Mainz. Mainz, as we’ve seen in recent meetings between the two clubs, tends to be a frustrating opponent for Dortmund, with the club being responsible for holding Dortmund to a 2-2 draw that saw them lose out on the Bundesliga last season. This was followed up by yet another stab draw, this time the most recent 1-1 in December.

Dortmund’s loss to Mainz in this weekend's game holds more significance to a Mainz side fighting against relegation, while Dortmund themselves had nothing to play for in the league. The lineup produced by Edin Terzić highlighted that the focus was very much on the upcoming Champions League final at Wembley against Real Madrid. Many players expected to start against Madrid were rested, and players who haven’t often gotten minutes this season were given a runout, and while this worked out very nicely against Augsburg two match days ago, this time, Dortmund’s second string suffered.

While it’s completely understandable (and encouraged) that Dortmund and Terzić would put out a lineup that allows many players to rest after their Herculean effort against Paris Saint-German in the second leg of the semi-finals, there is an element of pride that seemed to be missing in the Dortmund team at the weekend. Marco Reus was on the pitch, and as commentators were quick to say, he was likely frustrated with the performance because it was his second to last game in the Bundesliga for the club. Reus was one of the better players on the pitch but had a lack of support from many players who should have been jumping at the chance for minutes to show what they could do.

Quite a few of the players that come to mind are also players that have contracts expiring at the end of the season with Dortmund, and their performances underline just his important it is for Dortmund to be parting ways with them at this point to help facilitate this long awaited reconstruction of the squad. This restructuring will of course focus mainly on first-team talent and rightfully so, but higher quality in terms of squad players is also needed moving forward.

Taking Marius Wolf as an example, who chimed in with a 77% pass accuracy, 1 interception, 2 blocks and 5 progressive passes out of a total of 87 passes attempted and 67 passes completed. Taking into account that the majority of his passes were not of a progressive nature, having a player at right back losing out on 20-ish passes per game that were not going forward is worrying.

Wolf is just one example of quite a few others that were rather ineffective, but with those players vying for minutes or set to leave, the chance to perform was one to put them higher in the pecking order for future games or perhaps to put themselves in the shop window for any club who may wish to extend the offer of a contract in the future. Their inability to grasp this opportunity was somewhat baffling.

Then there are players like Mateu Morey, who, as we know, has suffered immeasurably at the hand of injuries. Morey’s lack of performance can be chalked down to simply that: lack of minutes and contending with an injury history that could have and has ended the careers of many footballers prematurely. In Morey’s case, the player can’t necessarily be faulted, but the performance shows that for him to get back to his very best he needs to play in a lower-pressure environment consistently to find the necessary momentum to revive his career. The lack of contract on Dortmund’s end may prove to be a blessing in disguise for the player who will still likely find a club willing to take a risk on him as a first-team player at a lower level instead of sitting third or fourth in the pecking order for Dortmund next season.

All in all, while the match can be viewed as a disappointing result where Dortmund didn’t exact revenge on Mainz by sending them one step closer to relegation, it was also a damning display of just how deep this rebuild needs to be and is an opportunity for the club to up the standards by which it holds even players who do not get minutes week in, week out. There are many examples of dedicated and proficient squad players having direct and lasting impacts on their respective team's season(s), with Joselu for Real Madrid this season and Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting for Bayern coming to mind. In this restructuring, Dortmund must work harder to bring in this profile of player as well as players to reinforce the first-team spine; players that can play an effective role when necessary and called upon.