Dortmund - The year 2013 has been one of the most memorable in Borussia Dortmund’s recent history, but unfortunately for the club, it ended in rather disappointing fashion.
'Could do with a break'
Jürgen Klopp's men were unable to give their fans the festive send-off they were hoping for on Matchday 17, slumping to a 2-1 defeat against Hertha Berlin and losing yet more ground at the top of the table. "We didn’t do enough in the game and we've taken too few points," said goalkeeper Roman Weidenfeller, one of the stars of the team that reached the UEFA Champions League final back in May.
"That’s not how we wanted to go into the winter break," continued Weidenfeller. "We need to start 2014 totally differently and show people the old Borussia again." A few weeks off over the festive period would appear to be just what the players need following their third home league defeat on the trot - the first time since March 2000 the club has suffered such a torrid run and the first time in head coach Klopp's five-year tenure.
"We need more of a killer instinct to decide these matches," surmised Nuri Sahin. "Hertha took advantage of the mistakes we made. It's frustrating and we only have ourselves to blame." Klopp, meanwhile, was relieved that a break in the schedule has now arrived. "We can use the winter break and the rest very well," said the 46-year-old. "Right now none of my players would want to play another three or four games. The final third of this half of the season has been particularly tough for us."
Dortmund's injury woes have been well documented this term. Mats Hummels, Neven Subotic, Marcel Schmelzer, Ilkay Gündogan, Lukasz Piszczek, Sahin and Sven Bender - seven of the 11 players that began BVB’s final game of 2012/13, Wembley's showpiece final against Bundesliga rivals FC Bayern München, have missed large portions of the season, with Klopp having to stretch his resources meagrely over three competitions.
Youngsters such as Erik Durm and Marian Sarr have been thrown in at the deep end, and while they have acquitted themselves admirably, the Hertha reverse illustrated how sorely the senior players have been missed with both of the Berliners’ goals arising from mistakes by the fresh-faced duo.
New Year, new start
Dortmund, and their charismatic coach, won themselves plenty of admirers after reaching the final of Europe’s premier club competition last season and to end the year so disappointingly - they could be 15 points behind Bayern, who have a game in hand, when the league season resumes in January - is a major come-down.
Nevertheless, Klopp remains determined that better times lie in store for his patched-up group of warriors: "This has been a terrible end to the year, but it could precede a fantastic start to 2014." Having the aforementioned injury victims back and raring to go would certainly help in that respect.