The Start - An Analysis (Part One)
Seven points in seven games, another injury crisis, 13th in the Bundesliga standings. Six points in two games, a perfect match against Arsenal. No goals conceded in Europe. Borussia Dortmund have been a bag of tricks in those first couple of weeks of the 2014/2015 season.
What happened? And why did it happen?
Four of best editors offer you some insight before the return of Bundesliga at the weekend. On Saturday, our lads make the short trip to Cologne, where they will take on newly promoted 1.FC Köln. With the gap to the Champions League spots opening up to six points, we need to finally get back to winning ways ahead of the Champions League trip to Istanbul.
But today, in our first part, San, Web, Nadja and Vanni look back on the start of the campaign.
San: Talking about the Bundesliga only you can of course only call it a bad start. Like Kehl said 7 points from 7 games is “catastrophic” especially when you see against what kind of teams we dropped points against. Despite everything we should have at least been able to beat Mainz, Stuttgart or Hamburg. Losing the derby in between all those games didn’t help either of course.
Web: The start of the season could not meet the expectations. 7 points after 7 Bundesliga matches including a well-deserved derby defeat and home games that could not be won against the teams with the worst form at the time (Stuttgart and HSV). That is just not good enough.
And the perfect start into the Champions League makes the performance in Bundesliga even harder to swallow, because it showed that the quality is there. Klopp has seen some shaky times during his BVB spell, like being "king of the draws" during his first season and being "the worst champion of all times" at the beginning of 11/12, but this might be his biggest challenge yet.
Nadja: The start of the season sure wasn't good. Not only the number of points we have gathered so far is an issue, also the way we played and lost all these points is quite scary. If it wouldn't be our boys, I would almost say that they are not willing. In some ways, the start is very similar to the 2011/2012 campaign. I don't say that because I am hoping for a similar ending (even though I do), but because also back then we had a lot of games in the beginning where there seemed to be a lack of concentration and willingness.
Vanni: Apart from Bundesliga, the start into the new season was picture-perfect. We gained two victories in the Champions League and managed to succeed to the second round of the DFB cup. However, Bundesliga is the most important competition so our start was overshadowed by several dumb defeats and a loss in the all-important derby away at GE.
Seven points out of seven matches is not enough for the quality of our squad (even with all the injured players) but I'm pretty more bummed with the fact that the squad seems to be more motivated in Champions League encounters than in Bundesliga clashes which makes me mad especially when I think about the derby which is THE match of the year for every supporter in black and yellow.
San: I think it would be too easy to just excuse it with the injured players. Those 11 players who have been on the pitch in each game should have been capable of winning some of them at least. I personally also think one of the problems is that we rotated the back four too often, in general rotation is not a bad thing but I don’t think it helps the team that we play a different formation there in every single game.
Sometimes it can’t be helped due to injuries and no full match fitness of course like before Hummels came back but in general I think we rotated too often there. Where I would have to bring up the injuries is in defensive midfield, it’s just very unfortunate that we keep having at least 3 players out at the same time there, you could see the difference it makes to our game with only having Bender and Kehl playing there for both Champions League games. Sahin’s unexpected long injury especially hurt us there I think.
Web: Yes, we had many injuries and a lot of our players still need to find back into the daily routine after an exhausting World Cup, but that does not explain performances like the HSV match. We lost a cornerstone of the team in Lewandowski and his replacements Immobile and Ramos are completely different players. So Klopp, who always liked to stick to one tactical system (the famous 4-2-3-1), came up with the idea to give his team more flexibility.
We have seen various tactical line-ups so far this season and the team seems to be overchallenged to make them work. But this is not inexplicable: Due to the delayed season-prep of the World Cup starters and the injuries of key players, Klopp hardly ever had the chance to train these different systems with the whole squad. And the coach also faces a new challenge. He never had a squad like this with lots of players on roughly the same level, that allow him to change the line-up and the tactical system for every match. He still has to prove that he can make this work. So far it alsways seemed to go best for him if he could stick to his preferred system and to his regular starters.
But all of these reasons can not explain why Adrian Ramos serves perfect assists to decisive goals against Gelsenkirchen and Hamburg. He is a seasoned Bundesliga player making mistakes a youngster could not get away with. Some players need to work on the basics, if we want to turn this season around.
Nadja: It's hard to tell why our start was so bad without being able to look into the head of the players. Sure all the injuries didn't help, but it would just be too easy to blame it all on that. We still have a squad on the pitch that should be able to beat all the opponents we lost points against this season (That said, Leverkusen might be the only exception.).
I think it's more of an issue in the players head. They want, maybe they even want a bit too badly. Maybe they are putting too much pressure on themselves. A gesture as the one after the Hamburg game would certainly help in this case.
Vanni: Our team lacks continuity. Due to several injuries and the consequences of the World Cup, Jürgen Klopp was hardly able to field the same starting line up in two consecutive matches. This can especially be seen in our defense where several changes are made to the center backs and even on the wings each and every week. Neven Subotic was not at 100 percent at the start of the season, Mats Hummels still isn't and Erik Durm, Marcel Schmelzer and Lukasz Piszczek fight injures from time to time. This leads to the fact that the defense is not well-practised, resulting in too many easy mistakes. Our offensive line is pretty okay concerning the injuries of important players like Marco Reus or Henrikh Mkhitaryan.
Vanni, Nadja, San, Web, 14.10.2014