Juergen Klopp admits he has some thinking to do as Borussia Dortmund head into the winter break having won just one of their last six Bundesliga games.
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Dortmund have now taken just four points from a potential 18 since their 6-1 thrashing of Stuttgart on Nov. 1, and Saturday’s 2-1 defeat to Hertha Berlin marked a third successive defeat at the Westfalenstadion -- a run last witnessed in the 1999-2000 campaign under the luckless coach Bernd Krauss.
Borussia now sit fourth in the table, just two points ahead of Wolfsburg in fifth, and have lost every game they have played against the teams in the European qualification places.
“Especially the last third of the year was unbelievably tough for us,” Klopp told a news conference, as reported by the club's official website. “We can really use the winter break and a rest. We have gotten ourselves in this position and have things that we need to think about during the break. That’s what I will do now, and on Jan. 5 we start from scratch again.”
Dortmund’s task has been complicated by long-term injuries to key defenders Marcel Schmelzer, Neven Subotic, Mats Hummels and Lukasz Piszczek but, despite Germany midfielder Ilkay Gundogan being the only notable absentee further up the pitch, there is a sense that they are also lacking in attack.
“Juergen Klopp has to analyse unforeseen problems during the winter break,” the German football magazine kicker commented. “His team lacks a Plan B and obviously also the attitude of the past.”
BVB have also not seen the best of Jakub Blaszczykowski this season, and summer signing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has not connected with Dortmund’s style of play despite scoring nine goals.
Beyond the injury problems, Dortmund’s primary issue appears to be a failure to cope with the loss of Mario Goetze, who controversially agreed a move to Bayern Munich late last season. Henrikh Mkhitaryan, signed for a record fee to replace the Germany midfielder, had begun the season well but has shown signs of exhaustion towards the end of the year.
“Our hopes rest on the fact that, in 2014, several injured players will return to the squad,” sporting director Michael Zorc told reporters after the Hertha defeat. “If top players like Mats Hummels and Ilkay Gundogan return we have more options.”
Zorc did not comment on potential winter transfers, instead underlining Dortmund’s philosophy of trusting in young players.
However, he added: “Right now, it’s not a good feeling ... You can’t argue the injuries away, but there are many other reasons that cause results like against Hertha.”