BERLIN (Reuters) – Bundesliga title contenders Borussia Dortmund are hosting injury-plagued Werder Bremen on Saturday, hoping to bounce back from last week’s surprise draw against Eintracht Frankfurt and prove they are not dealing with a “mentality issue”.
The Ruhr valley club twice squandered a lead to draw 2-2 with Frankfurt last week, that was preceded by a goalless draw with Barcelona in the Champions League.
Dortmund have won one of their last three league games prompting some to question whether the talented team is indeed mentally strong enough to rival champions Bayern Munich for the title over an entire season.
Last season they had carved out a nine-point lead over Bayern midway through but caved in after the winter break to see the Bavarians win their seventh straight league crown.
“It makes me furious, your mentality crap every week,” Dortmund captain Marco Reus told reporters when asked about whether his team had a mental problem and struggled to kill of games.
“Really. I mean we were dumb with the 2-2 (in the 88th through a Michael Delaney own goal). But please don’t start with this mentality crap. That’s enough with this thing now”
Whether there is indeed a mental issue there or not, Dortmund will need to beat Werder if they are not to lose touch with the top spots early.
With more than half a dozen players out injured, Bremen on paper looks like the perfect opponent for Dortmund at this moment in the season.
With the return of Nico Schulz from injury, Dortmund’s squad is brimming with talent that includes in-form teenager Jadon Sancho, Reus, Spaniard Paco Alcacer, Germany international Julian Brandt and Belgian midfielder Axel Witsel among others.
But they have to start a winning run soon as they have yet to show consistently what they are capable of, having failed to win more than two games in a row.
With Champions League action awaiting next week again Dortmund are quickly running out of time to settle into the season and coach Lucien Favre’s team will have to start delivering.
Dortmund are in third place on 10 points, three behind leaders RB Leipzig and one behind Bayern.
Leipzig are hosting improving Schalke 04, who have won their last three league matches to be on 10 points. Victory would put Schalke, who battled to avoid relegation last season, into the top spots.
The Bavarians have a seemingly easier task than Leipzig, travelling to promoted Paderborn on Saturday.
(Reporting by Karolos Grohmann; Editing by Amlan Chakraborty)