Three things we learned as Borussia Dortmund were left frustrated yet again by Mainz at the Westfalenstadion

Borussia Dortmund were left frustrated once again at the Westfalenstadion with a 1-1 draw against a stubborn Mainz side. It would be the hosts probing the early questions with five shots in the first ten minutes, the best coming from a Jamie Bynoe-Gittens effort that cannoned off the crossbar. However, as Dortmund’s attacking presence began to quieten, a sublime Julian Brandt freekick nestled into the top corner to give the hosts a deserved 1-0 lead. Nevertheless, in spite of the hosts’ dominance, it would be a former Schalke defender coming back to haunt BvB, as Sepp van den Berg’s header levelled the tie just before halftime.

After the interval, the rhythm of the game shifted compared to that of the first half. While Dortmund would be the ones cascading forward, the hosts offered very little bite, and Mainz rarely looked under threat. Giovanni Reyna thought he had won it late on, but the offside flag came to Mainz’s rescue, who had looked more likely to find a winner in the second half. Regardless, the points were shared as Mainz are given hope in the relegation battle, while Dortmund’s domestic season continues to fall apart with just one league victory in their last eight outings.

Edin Terzić is under fire

The Champions League has truly been Borussia Dortmund’s saving grace this season. While they continue to drastically underwhelm in the Bundesliga, now finding themselves 13 points behind league leaders Bayer Leverkusen, who have a game in hand, the distraction of European football has somewhat spared Edin Terzić’s blushes.

However, when the Bundesliga returns from the winter break, Dortmund’s head coach has six league games to navigate through before they travel to PSV for the first leg of their Round of 16 tie. This means that there will be no hiding for Dortmund and Terzić, who will certainly come under significant pressure if performances and results fail to improve.

In a first half that saw BvB dominate proceedings, they would once again be punished for not taking their chances, despite tallying an impressive 13 shots to Mainz’s three before the interval. Regardless, a lacklustre second-half showing proved why Dortmund are closer to Bochum in 16th than Leverkusen in pole position. Change is required, and an important winter break awaits Edin Terzić.

Reasons for optimism at Mainz

A 2-0 victory over RB Leipzig on matchday ten offered the Mainz faithful reason to be optimistic about life after Bo Svensson. However, since then, three draws and two defeats have seen the Carnival Club score just one goal prior to their encounter with Die Schwarzgelben.

Nevertheless, with little expectation placed on the visitors, Jan Siewert’s side were able to frustrate Dortmund yet again at the Westfalenstadion, with the hosts struggling to find a way past Daniel Batz in goal. While the first half was far from inspirational from a Mainz perspective, they were able to display reliance and character to find a route back into a game they appeared to be playing an insignificant role in.

It would be easy to sit back and aim for damage limitation, but Siewert’s side were ready to battle Dortmund, even more so after Sepp van den Berg’s equaliser. The second half would see the roles reversed, as Mainz appeared the most likely to find a winner until injury time, when Dortmund kicked into gear. However, they would hold on for a valuable point that will undoubtedly go a long way for the mentality of this side.

Dortmund continue to rely on the same three players

When one casts an eye to the top of the Bundesliga, Bayer Leverkusen, Bayern Munich, and VfB Stuttgart are three of the sides that will catch your eye. However, sitting in fifth and behind the chasing pack is Borussia Dortmund, who are rapidly descending down the league. A particularly strange site, especially when considering that Die Schwarzgelben were fingertips away from the Meisterschale last season.

Nevertheless, the characteristic that all three sides have in common compared to Dortmund is that they resemble a competent team. As for Terzić’s side, without the defensive abilities of Mats Hummels and the goalkeeping prowess of Gregor Kobel, the Black and Yellows would be even more of a defensive disaster than they already are. Slow, sluggish, and porous at the best of times, there is a reason that BvB have the second-worst defensive record in the top half of the Bundesliga.

As well as this, if Dortmund were to lose Julian Brandt, there is a real possibility that their attack would almost cease to exist. Yet again, it would be the 27-year-old to offer Dortmund the upper hand, and with 15 goal contributions in all competitions this season, without him, Terzić’s side would have very little creativity in the attacking third to rely upon. The loss of identity and backwards transformation of this Dortmund side compared to last season is staggering, and it is clear to see why they have fallen so far out of the title race.

GGFN | Will Shopland

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