Borussia Dortmund host Stuttgart on Saturday, with manager Edin Terzic urging his side to be more “mature” and find the “motivation” needed to prevent another season slipping away.
Despite a 2-0 win away against Hannover on Wednesday which saw Dortmund through to the next round of the German Cup, Terzic complained his side “don’t learn from our mistakes” and seemed to lack the necessary desire and fight a title-challenging side needs.
“It takes a form of intrinsic motivation — (a motivation) that the boys need to switch on themselves,” Terzic said.
“It’s not like it’s happening on purpose. But what’s missing is we aren’t fighting back.”
Lose against Stuttgart and Dortmund could finish the round six points behind Bayern Munich — and 10 points behind leaders Union Berlin — with less than a third of the season played.
This time last year Dortmund sat in second with 24 points and a goal difference of +12, but now sit in eighth and have just 16 points and a differential of -1.
Sporting director Sebastian Kehl agreed with his coach, telling AFP on Wednesday “we have to get back on track quickly”.
“We’ve shown in the past few weeks that we can do better” Kehl said.
Dortmund needed to bring the increasingly crucial English teenager Jude Bellingham from the bench to seal the game against Hannover, with the 19-year-old winning and converting a penalty within 10 minutes of his second-half introduction.
“Of course, it’s nice when you can bring a Jude Bellingham from the bench,” Kehl said. “We would have liked to leave him out longer, but he showed us why he plays so often.”
Their opponents on Saturday, Stuttgart, have scored 10 goals and conceded just once in their past two games since firing American manager Pellegrino Matarazzo.
Despite still looking for a coach, Stuttgart sporting director Sven Mislintat — who did the same job at Dortmund for 11 years until moving to Arsenal in 2017 — said the side’s strong form under Michael Wimmer was a “luxury problem” and that the popular interim manager would remain a part of the coaching set-up “even if someone else comes”.
One to watch: Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting
Amid all the hand-wringing after the off-season departure of striker Robert Lewandowski, it seems that plenty — including many in the Munich — forgot that Bayern had a number nine in Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting already on the books.
Since slowly making his way back from kidney stone surgery and a groin injury, the former Paris Saint-Germain and Stoke City striker has scored three goals in his past two games.
Even more importantly for Bayern, he has served as both a target and a link-man up front, making the side more dangerous and unpredictable.
After scoring two to help Bayern past Augsburg in the German Cup on Wednesday, sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic said “we know what we have in him”, while manager Julian Nagelsmann said he was “glad to have him in our squad”.
Perhaps the best endorsement of the Hamburg-born striker’s impact on the team came from teenage forward Jamal Musiala, who simply said playing with ‘Choupo’ was “really fun”.
5 – number of assists for Frankfurt striker Randal Kolo Muani, the most in the Bundesliga this term. Muani, who arrived on a free transfer from Ligue 1 side Nantes in the summer, also has three goals for the Eagles.
28 – Julian Nagelsmann’s age when taking over as head coach of Hoffenheim, making him the youngest coach in Bundesliga history (a record he still holds). Nagelsmann, now 35, faces Hoffenheim with his Bayern side this Saturday.
4 – just four points separate places second (Bayern Munich) to 11th (Mainz). Top-of-the-table Union Berlin sit four points ahead of the chasing pack.
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