Borussia Dortmund underperformed massively in the first half of the 2016/17 season. The draw against FC Augsburg on the final matchday before the winter break left the Bundesliga giants 12 points off the top of the table, and 2 points adrift of 4th place. What does Borussia Dortmund need to do to ensure they qualify for the UEFA Champions League next season?
Sort out that leaking defence
One major reason why the BVB have underperformed this season is that the team is conceding too many goals.
They are the second top scorers in the league this season, but their 19 goals conceded is the most of any team in the current top seven.
One game that perfectly summarised Dortmund’s leaky defence was the 8-4 win against Legia Warsaw in the Champions League.
They might have found the back of the net eight times, but allowing Legia Warsaw score on four occasions says a lot about the defensive composition of the team.
One major reason why they have looked shaky at the back this season is the form of new signing Marc Batra who has struggled to replace the accomplished Matt Hummels.
If Thomas Tuchel can get Bartra back to his best, then the team should be able to climb the table.
Keep Ousmane Dembele firing
Ousmane Dembele has arguably been the best U21 in Europe this season; his 11 goals make him the highest scoring youngster in Europe.
There tends to be an over-reliance on Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang for goals, and without Dembele’s rich vein of form, Dortmund will be even lower in the standings.
Blessed with pace, trickery and a magical left foot, and recently receiving the approval of the great Zinedine Zidane, the attention surrounding Dembele is set to increase next season.
If he can keep delivering goals and assists at the same rate, he and Aubameyang might be enough to push Dortmund into the top four.
Get a different striking option
With 16 goals in 15 games this season, it is evident that Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is one of the hottest strikers at this time in World Football. But if Borussia Dortmund are to put a run of wins together to threaten the top of the Bundesliga, they need a more capable plan B.
Dortmund will lose their star striker in January to the African Cup of Nations, and as Gabon are the hosts, it is possible they’ll make a deep run into the competition.
Thomas Tuchel has shown so far that he has little or no faith in backup striker Adrian Ramos, and cannot afford to gamble on the Hertha Berlin striker for six weeks.
BVB should be looking to bolster their attacking ranks as early as possible in the January transfer window if they are to keep up with their top 4 rivals.
Make the Signal-Iduna Park a fortress
After starting the season in free-scoring form at home, Borussia Dortmund have been less than impressive in their last few home games, winning only two of the last five league matches.
This sequence has seen them drop points against Hertha BSC, Schalke 04 and Augsburg.
Hertha Berlin have dropped only three points at home in the league all season, while RB Leipzig have dropped just two.
If Borussia Dortmund are to close the gap on Bayern Munich and displace the teams who are occupying their traditional spot, their home form will have to improve considerably.
Keep Marco Reus, and Mario Gotze fit
When fit and in form, Marco Reus is right up there with Eden Hazard as one of the best wingers in Europe. Since his return from a six-month injury, he has scored four goals and delivered six assists in just 360 minutes of football.
In the absence of Reus, BVB are forced to deploy Schurrle which makes them predictable coming off the left flank.
A trio of Aubameyang, Reus and Dembele possesses the right mix of finishing, dribbling, pace and directness, to cause problems for defenders.
Mario Gotze’s return to the Signal Iduna Park hasn’t gone exactly as planned as injuries and loss of form have not seen him perform as well as we all know he can.
He has been limited to just 1,151 game minutes this season, and his absence has meant Dembele has had to feature more than the manager might have planned at the start of the season.
If Dortmund can keep both of these star players fit, then the overall quality of the squad win to improve, thus giving them a fighting chance of finishing within the top four.