Borussia Dortmund dreadful in shock 2-1 defeat to last-placed Darmstadt
Borussia Dortmund handed last-placed SV Darmstadt their first win since October with what can only be described as an embarrassing performance from the Ruhr side. Darmstadt thoroughly deserved their 2-1 win on Saturday, while the Black and Yellows will have to take a long and hard look in the mirror after this one.
Eintracht Frankfurt's defeat to Bayer Leverkusen is the only positive news for Dortmund this weekend, as it means they won't lose even more ground in the fight for a Champions League spot. Dortmund could have started a chase for second place given that RB Leipzig also lost to Hamburg, but instead they'll need to be on high alert to not lose out on their most important season objective.
Dortmund have a habit of rising to the occasion in big matches, but completely losing the plot against inferior opposition. Thomas Tuchel said ahead of the match that it would take mental toughness for his team to persevere at Darmstadt and they did not show it.
Dortmund found no ways to utilise their individual superiority up front, while their reshuffled back line did not look like a defence with Bundesliga quality on Saturday. The hosts could have easily scored four goals with a bit more proficiency on their end, as BVB lacked the necessary aggression for a competitive game. It bordered on arrogance.
Manager rating out of 10
3 -- With both Marcel Schmelzer and Lukasz Piszczek out, handing 18-year-old Dzenis Burnic his debut as a left centre-back in a back-three formation turned out to be the wrong decision from Tuchel. Overall, his players didn't seem like they had a clue of how to break down Darmstadt or avoid counter-attacks. A poor performance by coach and players alike.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Roman Burki, 9 -- Denied Terrence Boyd early on with a reflex save and was absolutely furious with his defenders when the U.S. international striker put the ball in the net after 21 minutes. Had to show some heroics to keep Darmstadt down to two goals.
DF Sokratis Papastathopoulos, 4 -- Utilised his pace to break down a couple of Darmstadt's counter-attacks, but failed to organise his back line. Played some shrewd passes out from the back.
DF Matthias Ginter, 3 -- Did not provide much help for the young debutant next to him. Was easily caught out of position and struggled with build-up play.
DF Dzenis Burnic, 3 -- Received little to no cover by his teammates on his debut. Was not up to the task, inviting Darmstadt with a couple of errors, but it's hard to fault him in his first Bundesliga match.
MF Julian Weigl, 4 -- Could not impose himself on the game and overlooked too many open players.
MF Erik Durm, 4 -- Had problems controlling the ball and hardly created space with his runs. Instigated Dortmund's goal with a shrewd pass to Emre Mor.
MF Emre Mor, 4 -- Played a great flick over the defence to assist Raphael Guerreiro. Huffed and puffed, using his skill to dribble past opponents time and again, but more often than not he lost the ball by running into defenders wearing blue shirts. Overall, his actions weren't thought through.
MF Christian Pulisic, 3 -- Let his skills flash a couple of times, but over 90 minutes it wasn't enough to cause Darmstadt trouble.
MF Raphael Guerreiro, 4 -- Equalised just before half-time with a thumping strike from close range, redeeming himself for a terrible giveaway that led to the hosts' opener. Lacked the urgency that was required to dominate in midfield. Is not in the form that Dortmund require of him.
FW Marco Reus, 4 -- Was again the culprit of spurning chances, as he couldn't beat Michael Esser from close range. His free kick struck the bar in the first half, but it was hardly inspiring stuff from the deputy captain.
FW Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, 2 -- Was barely involved in the match and hardly any of his 25 touches were good. A truly forgettable game from the league's top-scorer -- also due to a lack of service.
MF Shinji Kagawa, 5 -- Replaced Guerriero after 62 minutes and looked lively on the ball, but rarely found somebody to link up with in the final third.
MF Ousmane Dembele, 3 -- Has impacted the game for the worse as a substitute in 2017. It was his poor giveaway in midfield that led to Darmstadt's second and he couldn't find the spark to create something up front.
MF Andre Schurrle, N/R -- Played below expectations, as is so often the case. Was clueless like the rest of his teammates in the 13 minutes he featured.
Stefan Buczko covers Borussia Dortmund for ESPN FC. Twitter: @StefanBuczko.