Will BVB’s wobbly defense become stable again? Top newcomers, but still many question marks

Coach Edin Terzic is spoiled for choice in the new defensive center of Borussia Dortmund, but there are still a few question marks on the flanks. What could the future chain of defense look like, what potential does the squad have, who could strengthen BVB? provides an overview.

On Wednesday, Edin Terzic, in his second term as Borussia Dortmund’s head coach, invites the team to start training. A few national players will still be missing, but one of the priorities should be clear. The vulnerable defensive. In the pre-season, with 52 goals conceded, they revealed blatant weaknesses that ultimately led to Marco Rose’s undoing. In terms of a Bundesliga season, it was Dortmund’s weakest defensive performance since 2007/08.

Terzic has to fix some construction sites with his protégés: A striking number of goals were conceded after losing the ball in the forward movement – in addition, eight goals conceded resulted from serious, individual mistakes. Together with SC Freiburg, that was the highest value in the past Bundesliga season. There was a clear lack of players with leadership qualities and experience at the highest level.

Will Süle and Schlotterbeck solve all problems at BVB?

To solve these weaknesses, Terzic now has real specialists at his disposal: the former Champions League winner and series champion Niklas Süle from FC Bayern and Nico Schlotterbeck, perhaps the most talented central defender in the country.

The now 33-year-old Mats Hummels is almost forgotten because of these top-class newcomers. Since Terzic has only played with a back four in the past, one of the players mentioned is likely to be put on the bench.

Due to the competitive situation at headquarters, the club can even afford that Manuel Akanji should be sold and that mega-talent Soumaïla Coulibaly will hardly play a role.

Defensive outside positions must be strengthened

Terzic is anything but spoiled for choice on the defensive flanks. In the past, Thomas Meunier, Marius Wolf, Felix Passlack and Emre Can have all tried their hand at the right – without providing lasting stability.

A perceived newcomer is Mateu Morey, who after his “total damage” in his knee in May 2021 is slowly but surely becoming an option as a right-back again. The Spaniard experienced his best time before this serious injury under coach Terzic. Accordingly, he was “happy” about the choice of the new (old) coach. Despite the lack of consistency, Meunier should still be number one in the first training sessions.

Identifying a favorite on the left side of defense is not that easy. Portuguese Raphael Guerreiro has done so in the past, but this past season he was infected by the uncertainty. Guerreiro’s sixth season was one of BVB’s weakest. A few goals came down his left-back and he was far from his best attackingly with four goals and two assists – ten assists in 2020/21.

With the sale of the still disappointing Nico Schulz, Guerreiro would be the only serious option at left-back.

David Raum: Expensive and sought after

Sporting director Sebastian Kehl is dealing with another German national player: David Raum from 1899 Hoffenheim, who was the focus of attention right away in his first Bundesliga season.

According to “Sport1”, the 24-year-old’s exit clause will only take effect in the coming season, and Hoffenheim should call for a transfer fee of 40 million euros this summer.

A big hurdle for BVB, which one would probably only want to jump if there were good proceeds for Akanji and Schulz. In addition, the Premier League clubs Manchester United, West Ham and Newcastle should lure the left-back.

Does Terzic continue to trust a back four at BVB?

Terzic can or must plan with an experienced center defense and shaky external positions, which could look like this: Meunier – Süle – Schlotterbeck (Hummels) – Guerreiro.

In his first term, the coach always trusted a back four with one exception. An alternative would be a triple chain consisting of Süle, Hummels and Schlotterbeck. Three trained central defenders who would each play in their best position.

As much as BVB trusts Terzic and his tactical and human qualities, the former successor to Lucien Favre was unable to sustainably remedy the defensive construction sites in his early days. In only nine of the 32 competitive games – not even a third – was the zero.

Compared to Rose (10.7 shots on average), BVB under Terzic even allowed more attempts (12.3) per Bundesliga game.

BVB are still missing a few pieces of the puzzle

Terzic recommended himself as a future BVB coach mainly because of his impressive final sprint of eight wins in a row, including the 4-1 win in the DFB Cup final.

What he also managed: to convey fun and trust. The team acted as a unit. This was shown, among other things, in the duel behavior: In the first Terzic period, BVB had the best duel record of all Bundesliga clubs with 54 percent.

“Edin knows what adjustments we want to make in order to be able to offer our fans successful football,” said Sebastian Kehl at the presentation of his new, old coach at the end of May.

Michael Zorc’s successor has made sure in an impressive manner that Terzic gets the right pieces of the puzzle. However, the defensive axis has not yet been finalised.

Lars Wiedemann

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