Only way is up for Dortmund

Jurgen Klopp (Supplied)
Jurgen Klopp (Supplied)

Berlin - Borussia Dortmund are last in the Bundesliga after their latest defeat Sunday and the champions in 2011 and 2012 will hope that having finally hit the bottom, they can only go up from their current position.

Borussia Dortmund may sit top of Champions League Group D but Sunday's latest domestic loss has left them bottom of the Bundesliga.

"The middle of the relegation battle," was how sport director Michael Zorc chose to describe Dortmund's situation following the 2-0 defeat to Eintracht Frankfurt.

The Dortmund homepage, cataloguing their misery, pointed out that never before had the side lost eight of the opening 13 Bundesliga games and only once - in 1985/86 - had they accumulated fewer than their present tally of 11 points at this stage.

There are some minor positives for Dortmund to take from their current fate. Now last, they cannot sink any further, and they are only one point behind SV Hamburg, Stuttgart and Freiburg. Even fourth place, the final Champions League qualifying berth, is only 10 points away.

But bridging that 10-point gap currently looks well beyond a side not only lacking confidence but playing, undisputably, like a relegation struggler rather than a title contender.

"We wanted to improve our situation dramatically with a win in Frankfurt but we didn't succeed, on the contrary in fact," coach Jurgen Klopp said.

"We will continue nevertheless, and have to break through this situation. Ultimately it's about being more consistent in some areas to steer the game in the right direction."

Klopp took responsibility for the team's position but dismissed talk of resigning, saying he would not leave until someone better for the team was available, and was strongly backed by his boss.

"We are convinced that we will come out of this situation with him," Zorc said.

But votes of confidence are infamously meaningless in football and both men, as professionals, know that the reassurance offered by Zorc counts for nothing if results do not improve quickly.

Klopp's delivery of two Bundesliga titles, a German Cup and a magnificent run to the 2013 Champions League final means he has a built up a significant amount of credit with the fans.

However, the past is a weak currency in a sport which demands constant success and the supporters made no secret of their frustration following the Frankfurt defeat.

"We are giving them a hard time at the moment," Klopp said. "They booed us at the end, and I can understand their displeasure.

"They didn't congratulate us but we have given them few reasons to do so in the last couple of weeks. We know that we must work hard now to earn their trust back."

Regaining that trust is made harder by a series of injuries which has already seen Marco Reus, Ilkay Guendogan, Mats Hummels, Nuri Sahin and Sokratis miss substantial parts of the season. And Lukasz Piszczek limping off with a thigh problem Sunday is unlikely to improve matters.

"The opponent doesn't need to do much to score a goal," Klopp said, lamenting two more defensive errors which handed Frankfurt victory. The second strike in particular, following a mix up between keeper Roman Weidenfeller and Matthias Ginter, was a gift.

Klopp rightly pointed out Dortmund had chances of their own and but for a wonder-save from home keeper Felix Wiedwald would have equalized. But that cannot be allowed to distract from the terrible defending, the weak midfield and the absence of the famous pressing which made the side so feared in recent seasons.

Dortmund's next match, on Friday, is at home to Champions League chasers Hoffenheim. A win could prove decisive in turning their season round but another poor performance, and a negative reaction from their massive home support, will cause more questions to be asked of coach and players alike.

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