Some may call it autumn, but in Dortmund, it's definitely fall. Freefall to be exact, as Borussia Dortmund extended their winless streak to five in the Bundesliga, losing 2-1 away to newly-promoted VfB Stuttgart on Friday night.
The once-upon-a-time league-leaders have only claimed a single point from their last four matches, including two deserved losses against promoted teams. BVB are light years away from their current ambitions and could find themselves as low as seventh place after the weekend.
Dortmund did not manage to turn their luck around after the international break and by now are in full-fledged crisis mode. Negative headlines like Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's suspension add to an all-in-all pretty dire outlook.
Despite going down early in the game due to an atrocious mistake by centre-half Marc Bartra, the Black and Yellow were utterly dominant in the first half and scored a deserved equaliser in stoppage time of the opening 45 minutes. Bosz had admitted that teams had better adjusted to his tactics and thus has to come up with new ideas. Going by the first half, Dortmund looked very settled apart from the individual lapse and that is something they can build on.
In the 51st minute, Bartra needlessly lost the ball high up the field and exposed his entire defence. Substitute Josip Brekalo nutmegged substitute Dan-Axel Zagadou and goalkeeper Roman Burki as his shot found the back of the net. This time, however, Dortmund did not recover as Bosz's side had no answer to Hannes Wolf's half-time adjustments. BVB once again lost the plot, with any sort of structured positional play going right out of the window while clever runs up front ceased to exist.
In the second half, Dortmund looked dead in the water with a brittle defence and an attack without a spark as not even the individual quality was up to standard to save the day for them.
Manager rating out of 10
3 -- The credit for his adjustments going into the game has to be wiped away due to the fact that Bosz was comprehensively out-coached by his counterpart in the second half.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Roman Burki, 5 -- The Swiss goalkeeper was without much of a chance to prevent either goal.
DF Jeremy Toljan, 6 -- Especially in the first half, Toljan had an excellent game as he was the only player left open by the hosts. However, utilised the awarded space as well as he could and should use this match to cement his place at right-back.
DF Sokratis Papastathopoulos, 5 -- Could not continue after the first 45 minutes after a Daniel Ginczek's knee got him in the rib cage. Sokratis having to leave a constantly reshuffled backline did not help.
DF Marc Bartra, 2 -- Bartra's overhit pass back to Burki was another moment for Dortmund's already extensive blooper reel, as his keeper could not control the ball. Chadrac Akolo simply walked it into the net. In the second half, Bartra turned into a "wannabe" Mats Hummels and tried to win the ball in midfield. An atrocious decision that was the beginning of the end for Dortmund.
DF Marcel Schmelzer, 4 -- Could not play a precise pass over 10 metres in the first 20 minutes but improved afterwards. As Bartra moved up the field before Stuttgart's winning goal, Schmelzer underestimated the looming danger and did not fall back.
MF Julian Weigl, 3 -- After a formidable first-half performance, Weigl played a key role in the second-half collapse.
MF Shinji Kagawa, 5 -- Was one of the better players in the first half due to his clever positioning and combination play in midfield though lacked the necessary punch in the second half.
MF Mario Gotze, 7 -- Gotze was excellent in the first half, making plays left, right, and centre. He could not quite keep his level of tenacity up in the second half and grew subsequently frustrated as teammates hardly offered options for him.
FW Andrey Yarmolenko, 5 -- The Ukraine international had some flashy back heels and intelligent runs in the first half. In the second half, Christian Pulisic, who picked up a muscular problem shortly before the match, was duly missed. Yarmolenko could not win any of his one-on-ones against Timo Baumgartl and was far away from being the difference maker that BVB needed.
FW Andre Schurrle, 5 -- In the first half, Schurrle added a dimension to Dortmund's game as he dropped deep and redistributed the ball as he replaced the suspended Aubameyang up front. His penalty was weak enough for Ron-Robert Zieler to save the first spot-kick of his Bundesliga career at the end of the first half. Luckily for Schurrle, Maximilian Philipp converted the rebound. In the second half, the German international was taken out of the match by his own bad first touch.
FW Maximilian Philipp, 5 -- Like his colleagues, Philipp's movements looked rather smooth as Dortmund found space. His goal almost broke the net but in the second half he was as ineffective as the rest.
DF Dan-Axel Zagadou, 4 -- The 18-year-old could not clean up Bartra's mess in the 51st minute. Afterwards, he won a lot of aerials but is simply missing the support of his teammates.
MF Mahmoud Dahoud, 3 -- The €12 million signing has not seen as many minutes as he had hoped for when he made the move from Gladbach. He replaced Kagawa after 62 minutes but instead of reinvigorating the midfield, he repeatedly gave possession away in spaces where it really hurt.
FW Raphael Guerreiro, NR -- Replaced Schurrle with a good 10 minutes left to play but had no significant impact whatsoever.