A torn ACL for Jakub Blaszczykowski is just another blow in a long list of injuries that have crippled Borussia Dortmund this season, ruining their chances of competing for the German Bundesliga title and more than likely leaving them with a very small chance of actually repeating their achievement from last year in the Champions League.
Kuba lasted only three minutes on the pitch, making a surprise start instead of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. He stuck his leg awkwardly in the ground and his season was over. Dortmund finished the match in a 2-2 draw with Augsburg, which helped them reach third place, but that’s hardly any comfort.
Dortmund have won only once in their last seven home matches. They’re four points behind Bayer Leverkusen and 14 behind Bayern Munich, who have also played a game less.
The season started out so well. The arrivals of Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Aubameyang looked like great signings – the kind that would help Dortmund compete with Bayern snatching Mario Gotze and adding Pep Guardiola to the coaching staff. Dortmund beat Bayern 4-2 in the Super Cup and won their first six league matches.
Then came the Champions League loss to Napoli after their goalkeeper was sent off, and the first loss of points in the league on the road against Nurnberg. Losses at Monchengladbach, Wolfsburgh and finally a home humiliation against Bayern meant that his wasn’t going to be the season in which they win back the Bundesliga. The last month before the Christmas break was a sign they weren’t even going to compete: Dortmund haven’t won a league match since November 30, picking up only two points from their last four league matches. They’ve done especially terrible against their rivals in the top 7, losing to all of them except for Schalke.
But it’s not just bad football; it’s impossible to expect a team to succeed when their defense is in shambles. Marcel Schmelzer was the only player in the back four against Augsburg who was intended to start in the position when this season began. Ilkay Gundogan, Mats Hummels, Lukasz Piszczek and Neven Subotic are out, which leaves Dortmund with a defensive line of Sven Bender, Kevin Grosskreutz and Sokratis Papastathopoulos, and things were worse before the Christmas break with players like Marian Sarr and Oliver Kirch forced to fill the lines, not doing too well in the process.
A lost season? Probably, but it’s not the only problem. With every year Dortmund fail to compete with Bayern Munich for the title, the chances of Klopp’s project falling to pieces grow. Robert Lewandowski is leaving for nothing at the end of this season, and convincing top players to stay with the prospect of titles becoming more difficult to project makes Klopp’s job close to impossible.