Peter Stöger (2nd.l) has put smiles back on the faces of the Borussia Dortmund players in no time at all. - © © imago
Peter Stöger (2nd.l) has put smiles back on the faces of the Borussia Dortmund players in no time at all. - © © imago

Borussia Dortmund feel the full force of the Stöger Effect


Peter Stöger was only given 48 hours to prepare for his first game in charge of Borussia Dortmund, yet that proved time enough for the Austrian to mastermind his new side's first win since the end of September.

The most important statistic from that 2-0 win away to Mainz on Matchday 16 is right there in the scoreline: 0. For the first time since Matchday 5, Dortmund kept a clean sheet, and it is perhaps no surprise that it coincided with them finally snapping an eight-game winless streak in the Bundesliga.

"There's a real sense of joy and relief," Stöger admitted afterwards. "It's great to have got a win after a long drought. It wasn't easy for us in the first half, but we ironed a few things out at half-time and after that we improved. It's an important result."

Watch: Stöger on his Dortmund predecessor Peter Bosz

Defensive stability, after all, was the foundation on which former BVB coach Peter Bosz built his early success. The Black-and-Yellows didn't concede a single goal in their first five outings of the campaign, picking up 13 points from a possible 15. Once the floodgates opened, though, it proved tricky to get them shut again.

Set up in a 4-3-3 formation against Mainz, Dortmund admittedly looked a little shaky to begin with - understandable given their recent form - but the visitors grew in confidence as the game progressed. Their centre-back partnership of Ömer Toprak and Sokratis Papastathopoulos kept their composure throughout, and as well as keeping the Mainz forwards quiet, they combined for the opening goal on 55 minutes.

"It was really important for us to win today," the Greece international said. "We did a good job and managed to stay compact in defence. Our next games are going to be crucial, because we want to make sure we put this negative run behind us."

Sokratis' goal was his first since facing Stöger's former side Cologne on Matchday 4 - while Stöger himself oversaw a Bundesliga victory for the first time since another 2-0 win over Mainz on the final day of last season.

Dortmund's upward trend under their new coach continued on Matchday 17 with a hard-fought 2-1 triumph at home to Hoffenheim, extending their unbeaten run against the Sinsheim outfit to nine Bundesliga outings (five wins, four draws).

As crucial as the result was for rebuilding the team's fragile confidence, the strength of character the 51-year-old's charges showed in coming from behind to seal the win thanks to Christian Pulisic's last-gasp strike will have been equally satisfying. With two victories from as many games under Stöger and BVB back up to third in the table over the winter break, there is now rightly a renewed sense of optimism once more in Dortmund.

Watch: Highlights of Dortmund's win over Hoffenheim

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