Borussia Dortmund may be seven points adrift of leaders RB Leipzig at the halfway stage of the season, but defender Manuel Akanji isn’t ruling out his side’s chances of winning the Bundesliga Meisterschale just yet, saying “everything’s still possible”.
The-24-year-old played more minutes (1,366) than any of his teammates prior to the winter break and readily admits that both he and Dortmund didn’t always fulfill their potential.
Lucien Favre’s side slipped to avoidable defeats against Union Berlin and Hoffenheim, and dropped points from winning positions against Eintracht Frankfurt, Werder Bremen and Freiburg, leaving them fourth in the standings, behind Bayern Munich, Borussia Mönchengadbach and Leipizig.
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“I didn’t always perform the way I wanted too,” Akanji told Kicker. “But I don’t think I only played badly so far, but it was easier for me last season too. When things go well in the team, you automatically look better.
“We talked to each other and knew that we had to change something, which we did. It was about how we can play better as a team on the pitch. Now we have to continue to build on the football that we’ve played in recent weeks.”
That form yielded 10 points from a possible 12 between the end of November and mid-November, as Dortmund beat Hertha Berlin, Fortuna Düsseldorf and Mainz, before drawing 3-3 with Leipzig to help them stay within touching distance at the top.
"In the summer we communicated clearly what we want at the end of the season,” Akanji continued. “Of course it is not always possible to achieve everything, but we’ll do everything we can in the second half of the campaign. Everything’s still possible.”
The Dortmund No.16 also conceded that being the hunter, rather than hunted – BVB were six points clear at the top of the table at this stage last season – could suit them this time around: "It might, we'll see. I hope it will be enough for us in the end."