BVB without Reus to London – What Witsel now demands
For months Borussia Dortmund has been racing through the different competitions. But after the third game in a row, in which the BVB gave away a lead, the warning lights go on at Schwarzgelb. “We have to win another game as soon as possible,” demands leader Axel Witsel – thinking of the difficult task in the Champions League at the Tottenham Hotspur.
The cap pulled over his eyes, the scarf under his nose: There wasn’t much to see of Manuel Akanji’s face on Sunday morning. But it was enough to identify him on the training ground. Earlier than expected, the Swiss entered the team training of the BVB – and thus gave an important signal at the end of a week in which his team had been eliminated in the DFB Cup and had recklessly given up two league victories due to his own negligence.
The defence chief is urgently needed in view of seven goals against Frankfurt (1:1), Bremen (3:3 after 120 minutes) and Hoffenheim (3:3). But it will take a few days until Akanji can help again. Since 18 December, the 23-year-old has no longer been on the pitch in a compulsory game. The upcoming Champions League duel at the Spurs therefore comes too early. And Marco Reus, who missed the match against Hoffenheim due to an undefined thigh injury, will not be on the team plane on Tuesday when the BVB will go on a business trip to London. Lukasz Piszczek’s mission, who still suffers from foot problems, is wobbling.
Goals scored according to standards: “We’re not the biggest either”.
So other players will have to judge it. First and foremost Axel Witsel, this so far so strong and sovereign leader in the defensive midfield of Borussia. The Belgian seemed to have everything under control against Hoffenheim as well, but when the visitors attacked him at 3-0, he too was crushed by the physical force that developed in 1899. “Normally we have to be able to control the game,” Witsel said self-critically, “but we didn’t have so much possession after the break. Nevertheless, our quality should have prevented the goals we scored.”
As against Bremen, it was also against Hoffenheim that goals were scored according to standards, which deprived Dortmund of the victory they had believed they could win. Known mistakes – based on known problems. “On the one hand, standards are a matter of mentality, but we’re not the biggest either,” said BVB co-trainer Edin Terzic, who represented the sick head coach Lucien Favre together with Manfred Stefes on Saturday. In order to counteract this, the assistant duo, in consultation with Favre, replaced the tall central defender Ömer Toprak in the final phase. Without success.
Witsel promotes normality
“Every team has a phase like this,” Witsel later wooed for normality. “We have to stay focused and positive now. And win another game as soon as possible.” The next opportunity will be in London on Wednesday, when BVB will play in the Champions League’s round of 16 at Tottenham Hotspur. “Ideally,” Witsel said, “we’ll be able to win there because it’s a very important game.”