It was about 20 months ago when Borussia Dortmund was in dreamland, making it to the Champions League final only to lose to Bundesliga rivals Bayern Munich. The Gelsenkirchen club has finished back-to-back seasons as Bundesliga runners-up to the Bavarian club after crowning themselves champions of Germany in 2011 and 2012. However despite their sizzling form in Europe this season, the BVB find themselves rooted at the bottom of the league table after just 2 wins in their last 16 outings. Dortmund finished on-top of their Champions League group but where has it all gone wrong for them in domestic football?
The Dortmund project is based on the development of players from youth level and recruiting players at a young age hoping that they will be able to realize their potential. Centred to that was their former poster boy Mario Gotze, an academy graduate. His controversial departure to Bayern Munich hit the club significantly and left a huge hole in their ranks. Their problems were then compounded with the departure of their top striker and one of the best in the world, Robert Lewandowski. The Pole's exit left Dortmund reeling as they had lost two of their best players in consecutive years.
The stability of the Signal Iduna Park club was again shaken by Bayern's chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge. The German legend confirmed their ambition to sign Dortmund's star player Marco Reus and also revealed that a release clause of just €25M is in the 25 years old contract. It is widely expected that the Dortmund-born speedster will leave the club at the end of the season leaving Jurgen Klopp scratching his head facing the prospect of losing his three best players in three years.
There is also constant speculation surrounding the future of club captain Mats Hummels as well as their midfield maestro Ilkay Gundogan. It was just this week that the agent of Armeninan superstar Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Mino Raiola, revealed that the playmaker wants to leave the Signal Iduna Park at the end of this season. The prospect of a summer clearance is at its highest which has clearly left the dressing room in a sad state. BVB's CEO Hans Joachim Watzke also has to face speculations surrounding the manager himself with several of Europe's top club interested in his services. German expert Raphael Honigstein also hinted that Klopp may be on his way to the Premier League and he is already equipped to take charge with English being his second best language.
On the pitch, the Yellow Wall has witnessed their heroes finding it difficult to breakdown teams that sit deep behind the ball. The exquisite touch and move stylish passing in and around the penalty area seems to a thing of the pass as the players are failing to find the right combinations. There is also a lack of pace in their play as well as movement and power in the final third, something that Lewandowski had provided in his time at the club.
There may be a need for a different approach from Borussia Dortmund but at the moment Klopp doesn't seem to have the answer. It will also be difficult to change their approach with the type of players they've got in the squad. Injuries have also played a part in their rapid decline from grace with the star players unable to get a run of games under their belts to get fully fit and sharp in order to perform at their best. The constant chopping and changing will harm even the best teams around therefore it of the utmost importance for the BVB to find stability on the pitch.
There is no doubt that they have the players and enough quality to put a decent run together to get themselves out of trouble. However every team is the Bundesliga is sitting deep asking Dortmund to find a way through which is working at the moment. However, there is no doubt the legacy of Lweandowski and Gotze is hanging over the club and the imminent departure of Reus and possibly two other stars has left the club feeling at ransom. The football world will be hoping Klopp and his boys can turn things around because the Signal Iduna Park club is just too good to be in their position and to be relegated to the Bundesliga 2.