Borussia Dortmund may have stumbled in the Bundesliga recently but they remain top of their UEFA Champions League group and are into the last 16 of the DFB Cup. bundesliga.com takes a look at their season so far…
Dortmund began the 2023/24 campaign well, with six wins and two draws from their opening eight games in the German top flight. With a 2-0 defeat to Paris Saint-Germain in Champions League Group F in that time, it looked like success at home might be more likely than abroad.
Edin Terzić's side had only missed out on the Bundesliga title on goal-difference to Bayern Munich on the final day of last season, and looked to have been drawn in the proverbial Group of Death in Europe, with AC Milan and Newcastle as well as PSG for company.
Watch: A look back at last season's final day drama
"In the Champions League no match is easy and we knew that as soon as the draw came out," the head coach had said when he found out his early-season continental fate. "To qualify you usually need 10 points…"
Two months later and Die Schwarzgelben are three points off that figure, having held Milan to a goalless draw before beating Newcastle home and away. BVB now haven't conceded in more than 300 minutes of European football.
But the wheels have started to loosen if not fall off, domestically. Defeat to Bayern at the Signal Iduna Park will have smarted in its own right. At 4-0, it was their heaviest ever home loss to their Klassiker rivals.
Watch: Highlights of Dortmund's Klassiker defeat
But it was sandwiched by a 3-3 draw at Eintracht Frankfurt, where Dortmund twice came from behind, and a 2-1 loss to VfB Stuttgart on Matchday 11 in which they only mustered five shots on goal to their opponents' 25.
"People have been moaning about our style of play for weeks - even when we win games," said BVB's four goal top scorer Julian Brandt recently. "But that's totally unimportant at this stage. I'd rather play badly and win than shine and lose."
Unfortunately for Dortmund, they did both last week: played badly and lost.
Brandt has been shining this season, though, with his four goals and four assists in the Bundesliga complemented by one of each in the DFB Cup and the second strike in their 2-0 win over Newcastle in their most recent meeting with the English Premier League side. With a goal-involvement every 106 minutes, he remains, perhaps understandably, optimistic.
"If you don't deliver results, it's normal for things to be questioned," he said. "The defeat against Bayern was our first of the season [though], and the second of the entire year - in November… you have to put the whole thing in perspective."
Brandt's form aside, there are other reasons for optimism. Marco Reus surrendered the captain's armband to Emre Can this summer but looks back to his best on the field, taking just 128 minutes on average for his six goal-involvements across league and cup outings.
Goalkeeper Gregor Kobel - one of Can's understudies on the team council - has thwarted 36 per cent of the big chances against him, meanwhile, which is comfortably the best record in the Bundesliga by that measure.
Dortmund take on fellow Borussias, Mönchengladbach, in their first game back after the international break. They have won their last nine home games against the Foals with an aggregate scored of 32-5.
Die Schwarzgelben may have been a dash more Schwarz than Gelb of late, but it would be premature to paint the season black.
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