- Dortmund back on track after Wolfsburg win.
- Defeat at Benfica belied an excellent performance.
- Tuchel keen to reiterate it is a transitional season.
After a turbulent few weeks on and off the pitch, Borussia Dortmund took what they hope will prove a longer-term step in the right direction on Matchday 21 with a 3-0 home win against VfL Wolfsburg.
Speaking in the wake of his team's impressive display against the admittedly fairly toothless Wolves, head coach Thomas Tuchel said, "That makes ten points now from the last five games, which is good." He was especially satisfied with the clean sheet, noting, "Our defensive work is very intense and disciplined at the moment."
As well as extending their unbeaten home run in the Bundesliga to 31 games, the win also lifted Dortmund up to third in the table, good enough for a group stage ticket to the Champions League. In this oft-cited 'transition season', qualification for Europe's top club competition is still the minimum target for those in charge at BVB.
Watch: Highlights of Dortmund's 3-0 win over Wolfsburg:
The main stumbling block at the moment is Die Schwarzgelben's wildly inconsistent form. To a degree, it can be explained by the ongoing hierarchical restructuring following last summer's departure of pivotal trio Ilkay Gündogan, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and skipper Mats Hummels. In their stead, a raft of young talents are conjuring up a mix of exhilarating football and quite unexpected lapses – such as Matchday 20's 2-1 defeat at cellar dwellers SV Darmstadt 98.
Following that one, Tuchel candidly observed, "We're not just the sum of our performances against Leipzig and Bayern – how we played against Darmstadt is part of what we are as well. I've been saying something along those lines all season. Maybe that's just the way it is this year and it would be helpful if the message trickled through."
On the rebound from the loss at Darmstadt, Tuchel's charges put in a decent shift at SL Benfica in the first leg of their Champions League Round of 16 meeting. They lost 1-0 in Lisbon but only some poor finishing denied them a more comfortable launching pad for the tricky return game at the Signal Iduna Park.
Dropped points and missed chances notwithstanding, Dortmund remain very much in the mix on three fronts, DFB Cup included. With a squad of such rich promise at their disposal, it is surely only a matter of time before they find the requisite degree of consistency to one again challenge at the very top end. As to the setbacks of recent weeks – this club have certainly come through a lot worse.