Borussia Dortmund, one of the formidable teams in European football, finds itself in a tense situation ahead of their highly anticipated clash against Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) in the UEFA Champions League. The German club’s start to the season has been far from ideal, raising concerns among its loyal supporters. As they gear up for a demanding away fixture against SC Freiburg and with just three days until their visit to Parc des Princes, Dortmund must address their shortcomings and strive for a resolute performance in the group stage opener against PSG.
The disappointment of the final matchday of the 2022-2023 Bundesliga season still lingers for Borussia Dortmund. Failing to secure a victory against Mainz (2-2) on May 27th allowed arch-rivals Bayern Munich to clinch their tenth consecutive league title. A single win would have crowned Dortmund champions, but their inability to do so has left fans questioning the team’s resilience. The repercussions of that setback seem to have spilled over into the new season, as Dortmund has only managed to accumulate five points from their first three Bundesliga fixtures, exposing several weaknesses in their gameplay.
One of the key concerns for Dortmund has been their recruitment strategy. Losing Jude Bellingham, the Bundesliga’s Player of the Season, to Real Madrid for a staggering €103 million has undoubtedly left a void in their midfield. While the club made some additions, such as Ramy Bensebaini, Felix Nmecha, and Marcel Sabitzer, they have failed to make a significant impact thus far. Critics argue that Dortmund’s summer signings have not matched the caliber of those made by rivals like Leverkusen or Leipzig, leading to doubts about the overall strength of their squad.
The spotlight also falls on Dortmund’s head coach, Edin Terzic, whose position has come under scrutiny due to a disappointing start to the season. Despite an impressive second half of the previous campaign, Terzic now faces mounting pressure, exacerbated by his strained relationship with the club’s sporting director, Sebastian Kehl, and tactical indecisiveness. If he fails to reverse the team’s fortunes and Dortmund does not progress past the group stage, Terzic’s tenure may come to an abrupt end. As former Dortmund player and international Andreas Möller aptly noted, “Edin is a young coach (aged 40) who still has much to learn. Dortmund is a club where the pressure is intense, and he must quickly find the right solutions.”
The struggles of striker Sébastien Haller have further compounded Dortmund’s woes. The Ivorian forward has been plagued by a lack of efficiency and a dearth of quality service, mirroring the team’s overall performance. Haller’s recent naïve foul, leading to a penalty and a 2-2 draw against newly-promoted side Heidenheim, is emblematic of his current lack of confidence. Karl-Heinz Riedle, a former German international, aptly remarked, “Seb is lacking confidence, and his profligacy in front of goal reflects the team’s struggles.”
Dortmund’s defensive line, consisting of Mats Hummels, Niklas Süle, and Nico Schlotterbeck, raises concerns as well. With just three recognized central defenders in their squad, Dortmund is taking a significant risk, considering the injury-prone nature of these German internationals. Even when fit, they have shown signs of vulnerability since the start of the season. Süle and Hummels have struggled to compensate for their lack of pace with their positional awareness, while Schlotterbeck has been inconsistent. Even goalkeeper Gregor Kobel, once a pillar of confidence, has displayed signs of unease.
As Borussia Dortmund braces itself for the challenge that lies ahead, the encounter with PSG provides an opportunity for redemption. The team must address its recruitment shortcomings, find stability in coaching, rejuvenate the misfiring attack, and solidify the defense to regain the trust of its supporters. The Champions League clash against PSG serves as a turning point for Dortmund, an opportunity to prove their mettle and reclaim their status among Europe’s elite clubs.