Berlin (AFP) – Borussia Dortmund lost their status as Bundesliga leaders and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has stopped scoring, but coach Peter Bosz denies talk of a crisis before Wednesday’s Champions League tie against APOEL.
Dortmund face an uphill fight to reach the knockout stages of Europe, as they trail both Real Madrid and Tottenham Hotspur by six points in Group H after three matches.
Defeats by Tottenham and Real, before a draw at APOEL in Nicosia a fortnight ago, have left Dortmund, Champions League finalists in 2013, facing a group-stage exit.
All is not well in the Dortmund camp, despite what Bosz says.
A 5-0 German Cup victory at third-division Magdeburg last week is Dortmund’s only win in their last five games.
“There was no crisis – and there is no crisis – Hanover were just more aggressive than us,” the Dutchman insisted after Saturday’s 4-2 defeat at Hanover 96 saw Bayern Munich replace Dortmund at the top of the Bundesliga.
To make matters worse, Aubameyang, the Bundesliga’s top scorer last season, is goalless in his last three games despite netting 15 times in all competitions so far this term.
Director of sport Michael Zorc said he was left “speechless” by the team’s sudden dip in form.
APOEL will fancy their chances at Dortmund’s Signal Iduna Park where defeat will end either team’s last 16 hopes.
The teams drew 1-1 in the first meeting when a blunder by Dortmund goalkeeper Roman Burki saw Mickael Pote give APOEL a shock lead before defender Sokratis Papastathopoulos equalised with a header.
On Saturday, Dortmund’s shaky defence was brutally exposed by Hanover 96, who mercilessly dismantled the visitors with a series of counter-attacks.
For the third league game in a row, Dortmund’s 4-1-4-1 system left far too many holes to exploit.
“For the first time, we have bid farewell to top spot in the Bundesliga – that is something which is unacceptable,” said captain Marcel Schmelzer.
“Our attitude wasn’t good enough and we quickly need to find the form which has made us strong.”
The German media is blaming Dortmund’s struggles on Bosz’s system, which the Dutch coach continues to defend.
“The questions about the system are just an alibi. It’s about winning our challenges and facing the opponent in a robust way to win the second ball, that is what we are missing at the moment,” said Zorc.
In the space of two weeks, Dortmund have seen a five-point lead evaporate and they now trail Bayern by three points in Germany.
Dortmund and Bosz need a win, not just to boost their fading Champions League chances, but to get their entire season back on track.
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