There’s not much Jurgen Klopp is asking for – just a defender or two back from their injuries. Just when he thought Mats Hummels was coming back from his, it turns out he’ll be out for two more weeks, leaving Dortmund once again with only one player in the back four that originally was planned to start there.
Hummels returned to action in the 2-1 win over Braunschweig last weekend, playing quite well for someone who has been out of action since mid-November with a ligament injury. Dortmund haven’t been winning at all in recent times, so the stability brought by the international centre back who has Germany’s staff worried as well was more than welcome as Dortmund focus on finishing in the top three and not slipping away any further behind Leverkusen and Bayern Munich.
However, this isn’t a season of good news for Dortmund. Klopp hasn’t changed the style because of the absentees, which means defenders that aren’t equipped to handle the one on one situations the counter attacking system generates or replace Hummels’ attacking abilities and especially passing skills are filling in for him and Subotic, who won’t be playing again this season. No wonder things have been looking so bad recently.
Lukasz Piszczek and Marcel Schmelzer are healthy (although only Schmelzer started in the previous match) so it isn’t all that bad, but a central defense made up of Sokratis and Sebastian Kehl isn’t going to be very imposing or confidence building. Not having Ilkay Gundogan in the middle of the field to help Dortmund keep possession with Nuri Sahin not coming back the same player from his adventures at Madrid and Liverpool has been another huge issue that’s hurting their defensive efforts as well.
Dortmund don’t have the means to compete with Bayern when it comes to chasing after players and offering bloated salaries. Doing that will lead to the same thing that almost bankrupt the club 10 years ago and took some time to recover from. However, looking at this season and trying to dissect lessons from it is difficult, because it is hard to think of a top team in Europe that has suffered from injuries like Dortmund have, which gives them and Klopp a pass for what has so far been a disappointing season.