Nuremberg - After a defeat against SSC Napoli in the UEFA Champions League in midweek, and then the loss of their 100 per cent Bundesliga record after drawing with 1. FC Nürnberg on Saturday afternoon, Borussia Dortmund had their worst week of the season so far.
Curiously enough, however, coach Jürgen Klopp was remarkably upbeat. “Of course we can play better football,” the 46-year-old said. “But we’re not unhappy with the point, even if it could have been more. The Bundesliga is a competitive business, and my team fought well.”
Returning to domestic action and the confidence provided by their unbeaten start could have been a tonic for Dortmund’s ills after a destabilising loss in Naples. Instead, 63 hours after the final whistle on the Mediterranean, an unfamiliar-looking BVB side lined up in Nürnberg to take on Der Club, a side desperate for their first Bundesliga win but hardened by the arrival of Japanese international Makoto Hasebe. Neither side came away from the Grundig stadium with the sought-after three points, but the 1-1 draw means Dortmund still sit top of the Bundesliga, albeit by a closer margin than before Matchday 6.
Klopp's charges will have the chance to exorcise some demons in Tuesday’s DFB Cup fixture with Bundesliga 2 outfit TSV 1860 Munich, and if Dortmund are to balance aspirations of competing in the latter stages of the Champions League, and being successful domestically, games coming thick and fast should not be a worry for a squad enhanced by big-name summer arrivals.
One such recruit currently sits joint-top of the Bundesliga scoring charts: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. The Gabon international’s rapid adaption to Bundesliga life has excited fans as quickly as the speedster beats his marker, and a hat-trick against FC Augsburg along with a brace against Hamburger SV are hardly a bad return for a man with only six Bundesliga games under his belt. One of Dortmund’s other summer signings, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, has already proved his undoubted class by scoring three times after recovering from an early injury setback. The Armenian’s fluent early combinations with fellow midfielders Marco Reus and Jakub Blaszczykowski promise much.
Reus and Blaszczykowski were in the starting line-up against Nürnberg, while Mkhitaryan had to make do with a place on the bench. Also in the starting line-up were 21-year-old defender Erik Durm and 19-year-old striker Marvin Ducksch, who was “over the moon” to make his full Bundesliga debut. Neither looked out of place at Bundesliga level, and along with fellow youngster Jonas Hofmann are at the forefront of an impressive cluster of talent emerging in the Dortmund ranks.
"Dortmund means an experience"
With three key players in Dortmund’s run to the Champions League final last season - Sebastian Kehl, Lukasz Pisczek and Ilkay Gündogan - all poised to return, things are far rosier in Klopp’s garden than this under-par week could have implied.
And after all, for Klopp, despairing after one or two disappointing results is unthinkable: “Borussia Dortmund don't just play for a result, Borussia Dortmund means an experience.”