But at least resistance: no defense, no title – BVB

But at least resistance
No defense, no title – BVB

By Stephan Uersfeld

Bayern Munich beat Borussia Dortmund in the German Supercup. It is the sixth competitive success against Dortmund in a row. The situation remains hopeless. The record champions will rush to the tenth title in a row. Or? After all, BVB is now defending itself. That is new.

In the end, it was like always in the last clash between Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich. BVB offered a little resistance and then had to surrender to the superior force from the south. For six games now, the Westphalia have not even wrested a draw from their big rival. The balance of power in Germany could not be clearer. Another season is looming, which catapults German football further in the direction of international insignificance and degenerates into a predictable spectacle nationally, which gains its importance through the excitement placed in the Sunday “double pass” and not through its sporting competition.

At the Supercup, which was jazzed up this season by the new coaches of both clubs for the first real title game of the season, the eternal duel between Bayern and Dortmund, you didn’t have to look long to find small signs of hope. Driven by a lack of humility, which is unusual for Borussia standards, there was a remarkable argument between Marco Reus and Joshua Kimmich early on in the game. The Dortmund captain had put down in this wonderfully heated duel in the nervous and breathless jerking Westfalenstadion Dayot Upamecano with 25,000 spectators. Before he could pick up the yellow card he deserved, Kimmich wanted to exchange a few words with him. Borussia in recent years would have listened to it and accepted it, but something different. Reus showed no respect, pushed back and the surprisingly robust Borussia stayed with this line. They resisted, they showed tough duels, were poisonous, but in the end they were also the well-deserved losers.

The Dortmund defense problem

The fact that this came about was primarily due to the outstanding Robert Lewandowski, the dramatically poor Dortmund defense, which Bayern brought into play again and again. Starting the game without numerous regular players such as Mats Hummels, Raphael Guerreiro and Emre Can, they always offered enough opportunities to Bayern, who were in good shape. They gladly took advantage of them and won the Supercup, the unofficial Club World Championship and, as all observers were certain, the tenth championship in a row. Which there can hardly be any doubt if something doesn’t change for Dortmund on the transfer market. Otherwise it will continue with Nico Schulz on the left defense and Felix Passlack on the right.

The verdict on the 23-year-old is quickly made. He was completely overwhelmed with his job as a right-back. Already under observation after his own goal against Eintracht Frankfurt, he made numerous hair-raising mistakes. He initiated Bayern’s first chances with bad passes, was seldom up to date and allowed himself to be duped on his side again and again. Once he played a free kick straight into the feet of a Bayern player. Clear case: BVB has a serious problem in the right-back position. Belgian international Thomas Meunier is going into the current season with the burden of an average debut season at best and a corona infection during preparation, with the return of Spanish youngster Mateu Morey after his terrible knee injury in May for the foreseeable future not to be expected. There remains the option of new commitment.

The Dortmund financial problem

But like all clubs, BVB is paralyzed by the spectatorless time in the midst of the pandemic. Loss, Loss, Loss. The financial turnaround? Not foreseeable. So Felix Passlack remains for the time being. “I won’t let my boys get in the way. Felix has worked hard for such tasks,” said BVB coach Marco Rose after the game, protecting the defender. Certainly also with a view to the special story of the former heavenly striker, who was under contract with BVB until the end of the season.

As a super talent flushed into professional football, Passlack only reported back in Dortmund last season – after a long, unstoppable case. Shortly after the attack on the players in the Borussia team bus in April 2017, his career came to a standstill, as did his voice during his testimony before the Dortmund district court the following year. It was awarded again and again, first to TSG Hoffenheim, then to Norwich and finally to the Dutch club Fortuna Sittard. Only there, on the verge of football insignificance in the province of Limburg, could he stop his case. At the beginning of last season he came on a few missions, but soon disappeared from view. In April Passlack appeared in the Regionalliga West in the U23. In the busy farewell game of the Bender twins, it was enough for another Bundesliga appearance. Surprisingly even to a new contract.

Another transition season?

The now prevailing misery after the departure of the club legend Lukasz Piszczek and in the midst of the financial crisis, Passlack now flushed directly into the main formation. Where he, as yesterday evening showed, has the greatest difficulties at the highest level. But currently Dortmund only has the option of passport varnish. It’s not a good one, but it also stands for a remarkable path that BVB was forced to take. The players who are there now are trusted. Sure, they wouldn’t have any objection to a few departures in Dortmund, but at Borsigplatz you earn good money and hardly anyone can currently afford the packages of salary and transfer. There are no buyers for players like Julian Brandt or Thomas Delaney, for whom Sevilla recently placed an offer that was far too low. Without exits, no additions. This is how we work with those who are there.

Their backs are strengthened, as the case of Passlack shows, so that they can appear as a unit to the outside world. So that they feel after the game, just like Jude Bellingham (click on the adjacent box for the wonderful text by colleague Tobias Nordmann) take care of taking everyone in the stadium. Closed against external resistance, aggressive and strong-willed on the pitch and open to the inside: That could be Dortmund’s recipe for success this season. The 3-1 defeat against Bayern was a step in the right direction despite the undeniable defensive weakness. But Marco Rose, the sixth coach in the seventh year after Jürgen Klopp, will need time for that. Very likely, and that’s the bad news, more than one season. Another transition season in Dortmund, you ask yourself, shaking with horror? It will be like that. And then Erling Haaland goes and the next one follows. It is a doom-loop. But if they are not winning any more championships, then at least they are fighting back. A start.