The curious case of Sebastien Haller and his struggles at Borussia Dortmund

Despite finding success wherever he's gone and recently winning the Africa Cup of Nations, Sebastien Haller has endured a difficult season with Borussia Dortmund. We examine where things have gone wrong for him in recent months.
Borussia Dortmund v Paris Saint-Germain: Group F - UEFA Champions League 2023/24
Borussia Dortmund v Paris Saint-Germain: Group F - UEFA Champions League 2023/24 / BSR Agency/GettyImages
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Sebastien Haller's form was poor with Borussia Dortmund to open the current season as the striker was clearly struggling for fitness, but he still earned a call-up to the Ivory Coast squad for the Africa Cup of Nations. While Haller sat out the group stage with injury, he watched his team pick up a 2-0 win against Guinea-Bissau before losing to Nigeria 0-1 and Equatorial Guinea 0-4.

The Ivorians barely qualified for the knockouts. By the last-16, Haller was fit again, scoring in the penalty shootout win over Senegal. He then played the entire second half of Ivory Coast's 2-1 quarterfinal win over Mali, before starting the semifinal against the DR Congo, where he scored the only goal, leading Ivory Coast to the AFCON final.

The final was a rematch with Nigeria, but what was different about this game? Sebastien Haller started... AND scored the winning goal in Ivory Coast's 2-1 win, making them African Champions. His comeback was complete! Yet, after scoring the 81st minute winner, Haller was substituted seven minutes later with a recurrence of his ankle injury, one that is keeping him out of action currently.

This brings us back to Borussia Dortmund, where Haller continues to struggle. I speak for many BVB fans in being happy for Sebastien Haller. As much as I want him to perform well in black and yellow, I'm excited to see him hift a trophy with his national team. Nobody expected Haller to return to his top form after a diagnosis like cancer, but he's managed just that, albeit not in a Dortmund jersey.

So why has Haller struggled so much this season? Haller has made eleven league appearances without a goal or assist. With 354 total minutes, Haller's expected goals is still lower than one. Why is this?

It's a stark contrast between Haller's performances in AFCON, and what he's shown for Borussia Dortmund this season. Is it simply a matter of Haller's inability to reach full fitness? It's hard to blame someone for this after recovering from cancer only a year ago.