• Dortmund skipper eyes improvement in the Rückrunde.
  • BVB often conceded an early goal during the first half of the season.
  • Schmelzer played in 4-1 friendly win over PSV on 7 January.

Marcel Schmelzer is hoping for a defensive improvement from Borussia Dortmund in the second half of the Bundesliga season.

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Die Schwarzgelben finished the Hinrunde in sixth place, and will resume the 2016/17 Bundesliga season on a four-game unbeaten run.

But a habit of conceding an early goal meant that Schmelzer's side have often played catch-up, carving out three consecutive draws immediately before the Winterpause to keep the five-time champions in touch with the sides above them going in to the second half of the season.

"Our primary objective is to stop falling behind as often – and especially not to the opposition's first chance of the match," the Dortmund skipper told the club's official website. "If you manage that, you only need to score the one goal, and not two."

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Schmelzer, who turns 29 the day after Dortmund return to Bundesliga action, was part of the side that enjoyed a comfortable 4-1 win over PSV Eindhoven. © imago / Club Soccer

A fascinating opening half of the season that has seen RB Leipzig challenge for first place and TSG 1899 Hoffenheim remain unbeaten is, for Schmelzer, symptomatic of how tough it is to break teams down in the Bundesliga.

He adds, "The other teams have tightened up at the back considerably, meaning it is harder than ever to score against them."

Schmelzer and the rest of the Dortmund squad are at their winter training camp in Marbella, using their time at the Spanish resort to stay sharp and prepare for their league programme to resume at SV Werder Bremen on Saturday 21 January (15:30CET).

"We've got a great training ground, a nice hotel," the 28-year-old said. "The sun is a nice bonus. We're looking forward to the coming days here, we're with each other 24 hours a day, and the injured players are here too. We have plenty of opportunities to catch up with one another."

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One player absent from Dortmund's winter camp is Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who is with host country Gabon at the Africa Cup of Nations. The Bundesliga’s top scorer with 16 goals, Aubameyang could be away until 5 February, but Schmelzer is confident that fellow striker Adrian Ramos can provide Dortmund with the necessary firepower up front.

"Auba is simply irreplaceable. But we have got great quality on the bench with Adrian. He is a great guy and a very good football player. We trust him completely."

Watch: Who can catch Aubameyang in the Bundesliga top-scorer race?

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