Borussia Dortmund are third in the Bundesliga just four points off the top, have a couple of the most exciting young attacking talents in the world and have a Champions League tie against a potentially vulnerable PSG coming up.
So why will the talk that coach Lucien Favre is not long for the job not go away? In short, it’s because they should be so much better than this, and because the same failings keep appearing again and again.
Dortmund lost 4-3 to Bayer Leverkusen at the weekend despite leading twice in the game, and on the European edition of the Totally Football Show this week, Rafa Honigstein explained why this is just such a typical way for Dortmund to lose.
“They’re the one side who can go away from home, score three goals and you still can’t quite back them to win the game. This is what transpired: they were 3-2 up with ten minutes to go and managed to concede two goals.
“It was a big, big defeat which felt especially painful because it brought back all the discussions about their defensive ineptitude, and they couldn’t outscore their opponents. Even Erling Haaland didn’t score…it’s back to square one for them.”
As Julien Laurens noted, it was quite surprising how open Favre was after the game, saying that he had never had a team with so many difficulties and problems as this one.
“Dortmund might be saying the same about him,” said Rafa. “They can’t figure it out. Different players, different people from Dortmund are putting forward different theories as to why it doesn’t work. Is it individual? A lack of application? A lack of aggression? A lack of organisation?
“They fell apart in the second half of last season to gift the title to Bayern, and this year when they’re vulnerable by their standards, Dortmund aren’t taking advantage. They can’t defend, which is very galling and difficult for the bosses to take.
“Privately Favre will always point at the players and say “this guy is not quite right, this guy makes mistakes or this guy can’t defend”, but at some stage you have to deal with those issues and help this team collectively do better. They’re such an easy touch – they’re so soft it’s ridiculous.”
“I think it’s a bit easy [for Favre] to say “I don’t have the right players.” So many teams would love to swap squads with Dortmund, even in defence, and one of the reasons Favre has come under so much criticism is because a lot of people suspect another manager, with a more defensive set-up, could get more out of them.
“Axel Zagado who in terms of physique and ability has the potential to be a sensational centre-back – strong, pacy, good on the ball – next to him you’ve got a guy in Mats Hummels who’s won the World Cup with Germany, who might not be at his best but he’s still pretty good.”
So if not Favre, then who?
“If Dortmund knew, I think Favre would’ve been gone in the summer. But like Bayern, they can’t quite figure out who that man would be, and who’s available. This was another game to suggest Favre will not stick around beyond end of the season.”
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