Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League round of 16: Back from the end of the world

Lucien Favre may change his mind again. It will take a few days before Borussia Dortmund will play the final group game of the Champions League at Zenit St. Petersburg next Tuesday. A win against the knocked-down bottom of the table would bring 2.7 million euros to the corona-torn account and win the group. But neither one nor the other attracted the BVB coach for almost a week. “First place is not relevant,” said Favre after the 1-1 draw against Lazio, “only qualifying for the round of 16 counts.”

He liked to point out “the end of the world” twice, which he saw proclaimed by the media after the 3-1 defeat in the first leg and a very poor performance. At that time Favre had promised that “we will get through”, now he had kept the promise and smugly remarked: “Lazio is not yet qualified.”

One topic was through, another will occupy the Dortmund even more in the coming weeks. Erling Haaland is due to a torn hamstring “until the beginning of January,” as Favre said. The striker, who scored 16 goals in 13 competitive games of the season, will be missing in at least four Bundesliga games and the game in the DFB Cup at Eintracht Braunschweig. BVB’s second best goalscorer in the Bundesliga may also be canceled. But he is much more important for another reason, because Mats Hummels is the defense chief who is in consistently good shape. Hummels has the word on the square. He praises, divides, builds up, including the game.

Shortly before the end of the game against Lazio, the central defender went down and immediately indicated that he would have to be replaced. “We hope that it was just a blow on the foot and that it will go again quickly,” said sports director Michael Zorc. Hummels contacted Instagram after midnight. He’s just come out of the hospital and it looks like it’s “not that bad.” He thinks he’ll be back on the pitch very soon. But he could only say more details after further investigation.

With Raphaël Guerreiro, the goalscorer against Lazio had previously been replaced. “He felt something,” said the trainer, pointing to the back of the thigh. Haaland, Hummels, Guerreiro – the three pillars of the team may break away together for the game on Saturday at Eintracht Frankfurt.

At Haaland, the longer break is even a certainty. When asked how Favre intends to make up for the loss, he repeated the list he had heard many times before. Julian Brandt could play “as the wrong striker”, Marco Reus and Thorgan Hazard are also “options up front”.

Against Lazio, Reus and Hazard often alternated in the central attack. Hazard stood out with a nice preparatory work for the opening goal, Reus with a few passes that accelerated the game. However, he himself lost almost all running duels. His duel behavior, his approach to the opponent – that is qualitatively much worse than that of a Haaland. Brandt also has clear deficits here, Hazard is solid on these points.

BVB can be happy that Youssoufa Moukoko is now 16 years and a few days old. Borussia has a classic center forward in the squad who is technically perhaps a bit further than Haaland because the discrepancy between strong and weak feet is not that big. “We’ll see what happens to Youssoufa,” said Favre when asked whether Moukoko will be in the starting XI in the coming weeks.

Five away games until Christmas

Five away games – at Eintracht Frankfurt, Zenit St. Petersburg, Werder Bremen, 1. FC Union Berlin and Eintracht Braunschweig – as well as the game against VfB Stuttgart are scheduled for BVB until Christmas. A week ago it looked as if the Dortmunders could successfully cope with the program and distribute the load as fairly as possible due to a balanced squad. Then came the defeat against 1. FC Köln, where players like Brandt and Alex Witsel showed that their form was not right. In addition, Thomas Meunier, a professional who Favre likes to have on the team, injured himself. In addition, his absence showed once again the value of Guerreiro very clearly.

Then Haaland, Emre Can also fell out against Lazio, then Guerreiro again, then Hummels. It would have an appeal for Favre if the defense chief were correct with his first diagnosis.

Icon: The mirror