AP NEWS

Dortmund in crisis again, Hertha not far behind

November 25, 2019
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Borussia Dortmund's Julian Brandt controls the ball during a German Bundesliga soccer match against SC Paderborn 07, Friday, Nov. 21, 2019, in Dortmund, Germany. (David Inderlied/dpa via AP)
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Borussia Dortmund's Julian Brandt controls the ball during a German Bundesliga soccer match against SC Paderborn 07, Friday, Nov. 21, 2019, in Dortmund, Germany. (David Inderlied/dpa via AP)

BERLIN (AP) — Borussia Dortmund is going through another crisis and the next blow may prove the last for Lucien Favre as coach.

Dortmund’s 3-3 draw at home to last-place Paderborn in the Bundesliga on Friday was just the latest example of a dysfunctional performance, coming after its 4-0 drubbing at Bayern Munich in the previous round.

“Shameful,” captain Marco Reus called a first half in which it conceded three goals to a side that has won only one league game so far.

Dortmund’s only saving grace is that rivals have been faltering, too. Borussia Mönchengladbach leads after 12 rounds, one point ahead of Leipzig and defending champion Bayern Munich, while Dortmund is five points off the pace despite dropping points in seven games so far.

Dortmund chief executive Hans-Joachim Watzke and sporting director Michael Zorc met for crisis talks on Saturday, but Watzke said Sunday the club is sticking with Favre for now.

“Lucien, you still have our trust, but one thing is clear — football is always measured on results in the end. We hope it’s possible to bring about a change for the better,” Watzke told Dortmund’s AGM.

The team, already berated by angry fans after the draw with Paderborn, was greeted by whistles and boos by some of the 1,200 club members to the AGM. Some shouted, “shame on you,” and “Favre out.”

But Watzke also criticized fans for ironically celebrating Paderborn goals.

“Whoever claims to be a Dortmund fan and celebrates an opponent’s goals should simply leave the club,” Watzke said.

The Dortmund CEO acknowledged a mistake in squad rebuilding over the summer, namely in not signing another striker to ease the burden on Paco Alcácer, who hobbled off injured before halftime on Friday.

Watzke called on the players to deliver a statement against Barcelona in the Champions League on Wednesday and then Hertha Berlin in the Bundesliga on Saturday.

“We’re Borussia Dortmund, we have to show that. Pull yourselves together, suffer for the team. Play as Borussen are expected to play,” Watzke told the team.

“You can lose a game, but you have to give our 11 million fans in Germany the feeling that you did everything you could so that wouldn’t happen,” the 60-year-old said.

Favre, now in his second season at the club, has been criticized for not being quick enough to react with changes during games. But he received support from team captain Marco Reus, who said the players were to blame for the poor performances, not the coach.

“From Wednesday we have to show we can do better, and we can,” Reus said.

HERTHA’S HUMBLING EXPERIMENT

Hertha Berlin’s decision to place its faith in its under-23 coach Ante Covic to lead the side following Pál Dárdai’s summer departure hasn’t paid off.

Covic’s team lost 4-0 at fellow struggler Augsburg on Sunday, continuing a run of four straight defeats, including the painful 1-0 loss at city rival Union Berlin in the derby.

Hertha has only 11 points from a possible 36 so far and looks a better bet for relegation than a European place, particularly after the last two lackluster performances.

“The team seemed constrained,” Covic said.

Hertha started the season full of enthusiasm after a summer investment of 125 million euros ($140 million) from financier Lars Windhorst, who increased his stake in the club to 49.9% for another 99 million euros ($110 million) this month.

Windhorst envisages Hertha establishing itself among Germany’s best clubs. At the moment it’s not even the best in Berlin.

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Ciarán Fahey on Twitter: https://twitter.com/cfaheyAP