When Borussia Dortmund won consecutive Bundesliga titles it seemed to awake the snoozing Bayern Munich into a record-breaking frenzy.
Last term, Dortmund finished as runners up to their Allianz Arena foes by a mammoth 25 points in the German top flight. Reaching the Champions League final, although ultimately falling to Bayern once again, was seen to cap a successful season though.
This year, there’s little chance of that. Dortmund travel to face Zenit St Petersburg in their Champions League round-of-16 first leg having lost 3-0 to Hamburg, who were in a tailspin of eight defeats before facing Jurgen Klopp’s side.
20 points are wedged between the Westfalenstadion inhabitants and Bayern and their place in next term’s Champions League is under threat, with just three points separating them in third and Wolfsburg in fifth.
But where has it all gone wrong for the loveable Klopp?
The obvious answer is injuries. The spectacled-boss hasn’t had his first-choice back four available to for the majority of the season and as a result Dortmund have kept three clean sheets in the last 19 games. Zenit are understandably 4/11 to capitalise on that frailty by scoring, with Dortmund shutting the Russians out 15/8.
But it isn’t just a packed physio room that’s scuppering Die Borussen’s season. The lure of Munich’s brightly lit trophy cabinet continues to attract Dortmund’s best players away. Mario Gotze flew the nest last summer and Robert Lewandowski is due to follow.
Losses of that quality put serious pressure on a young squad that has just six players over the age of 27 to guide them through tougher times. That inexperience perhaps explains why they’ve collected just three points (the win over Schalke) from their games against the top seven, losing all of the other six. Last term, they lost just four games against the teams from those same positions.
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