Marc Bartra, Dortmund backline spatially unaware against Spurs
DORTMUND, Germany -- Borussia Dortmund's farewell tour in the UEFA Champions League extended to five winless games out of five in Group H as Tottenham Hotspur came from behind to win 2-1 at the Westfalenstadion on Tuesday night.
Overall, Dortmund have only one win out of their last nine games, which came against third-division Magdeburg in the DFB-Pokal. Chances are, the Black and Yellows will enter the Europa League without having won a single match in the Champions League group stage, which is light-years away from their ambitions.
On Saturday, Ruhr rivals Schalke will show up in Dortmund for the big Revierderby clash. It's a match that will put enormous pressure on the Black and Yellows with the Royal Blues sitting in second place in the Bundesliga and seemingly going in an opposite direction from Dortmund.
A more conservative approach by the Black and Yellows suited them well against a Tottenham team that did not see the heavy rotation coach Mauricio Pochettino alluded to on Monday. Dortmund sacrificed a bit of possession and set up a few yards deeper, with holding midfielder Julian Weigl lining up a bit closer to his defence. BVB were always going to allow chances against a Tottenham side that recently beat Real Madrid in the Champions League. Dortmund was not carved open the way they have been in the past. For what it's worth, Dortmund's half-time lead was deserved.
The half-time lead only lasted until the 47th minute, when Harry Kane made use of BVB's inconsequential defending. It never looked for a minute like Dortmund would recover from going behind -- neither mentally nor tactically. After a good hour mark, the hosts looked flat like a pancake. With 15 minutes to spare, Son Heung-min scored his obligatory goal, now boasting a record of eight goals in 10 games against Dortmund. Adding insult to injury, Roman Burki had to be carried off on a stretcher after Fernando Llorente's foot caught him in the forehead. If the mission was to build confidence ahead of a crucial derby, the mission failed.
Manager rating out of 10
4 -- Peter Bosz is making adjustments, but those adjustments seem more like twists and turns rather than eradicating more deep-lying issues such as stamina and mentality.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Roman Burki, 8 -- He stretched and stretched and stretched to keep Erik Dier's header out with a finger-tip save in the first half. He was without a chance to deny Kane or Son in the second half and his clash with Llorente at the end of the match could see him ruled out for the derby.
DF Jeremy Toljan, 5 -- Toljan still has a great deal to improve on if he wants to become a regular starter for Dortmund in the long term. For now, though, he has won his spot as long as Lukasz Piszczek is out and Marc Bartra is not forced to play at right-back.
DF Marc Bartra, 3 -- Positional awareness does not seem to be a strong point for the Spaniard these days. Paired with a lack of physicality, Bartra too often exposed his backline and could have been punished even worse.
DF Dan-Axel Zagadou, 5 -- Did not cover himself in glory either as Kane funnelled his shot between the centre-backs early in the second half.
DF Marcel Schmelzer, 4 -- Marcel "no man's land" Schmelzer. His positional awareness is on a similar level with Bartra's, leaving Dormtund's left side constantly exposed as wingers can dart into space with runs behind the captain's back.
MF Julian Weigl, 5 -- Could not build on his improved first-half performance, running out of steam with the half-time whistle.
MF Shinji Kagawa, 5 -- The Japanese had a lot of bright ideas early on in the match but lacked execution. As Dortmund mostly ignored their central midfielders in the build-up phase, Kagawa was not as influential as he often is.
MF Mario Gotze, 5 -- There are many debates going on regarding whether Dortmund have leaders on the field. The fact of the matter is that Gotze could not impose himself on the game whatsoever in the second half. It's something that could be expected of an experienced midfielder such as the 25-year-old.
FW Andriy Yarmolenko, 5 -- His cheeky back-heel to set up Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang for the opener was a moment of brilliance that provoked the stadium to utter a collective "uuhh". However, Yarmolenko needs to find those moments on a more consistent basis. It's normal for youth players to be inconsistent but a 28-year-old should do better.
FW Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, 6 -- Got his goal after his one-game suspension against Stuttgart due to disciplinary measures.
FW Raphael Guerreiro, 6 -- The ray of light in the first half. With Guerreiro playing as a left winger and occasionally dribbling into the half-space, the hosts actually created something of a threat. Unsurprisingly, the Portuguese initiated BVB"s opener but also ran out of steam early in the second half.
MF Gonzalo Castro, 5 -- Replaced a hapless Kagawa after 66 minutes. Huffed and puffed, tried to string up a one-man Gegenpressing but without much of a gain.
DF Omer Toprak, NR -- It's a big problem that Dortmund's centre-backs are falling like flies. Toprak came on for Zagadou, who had to go off injured at the 78th minute. The constant reshuffle of the backline doesn't help.
GK Roman Weidenfeller, NR -- A short cameo for the veteran goalkeeper as Burki was carried off the field.
Stefan Buczko covers Borussia Dortmund for ESPN FC. Twitter: @StefanBuczko.