Borussia Dortmund supporters wait on the stands prior to the Champions League group H soccer match between Tottenham and Borussia Dortmund, at the Wembley stadium in London, Sept 13, 2017. (KIRSTY WIGGLESWORTH / AP)
BERLIN - Disappointment was evident on Peter Bosz' face after 2012 German Champion Borussia Dortmund struggled to come to terms with a painful 3-1 defeat in their 2017/2018 Champions League opener against Premier League Tottenham Hotspur.
"It didn't work," the Dutchmen admitted after his tactics turned out to be a mistake. But making tactical mistakes is nothing new for Bosz when they meet English clubs.
It will take a while for Dortmund to get over the defeat
The match against Spurs and Mauricio Pochettino, was Bosz' first ever appearance in the Champions League as a coach. It was the second important contest that he has lost against a side from England's top tier. In May when in charge of Ajax Amsterdam, he was defeated in the Europa League final by Manchester United and Jose Mourinho 2-0.
Like in spring, Bosz this Wednesday evening was unhappy with Tottenham's defensive game. Against Manchester, he accused their coach of using boring tactics with far too many long balls. Mourinho struck back by saying, "In football, you have many poets, but poets don't win titles."
As Tottenham and Dortmund seem to be battling for second place in the group behind title-holders Real Madrid, the German outfit are now in danger of missing the next round due to Bosz' coaching error.
Dortmund's coach Peter Boss waves to supporters at the end of the Champions League group H soccer match between Tottenham and Borussia Dortmund, at the Wembley stadium in London, Sept 13, 2017. (KIRSTY WIGGLESWORTH / AP)
"This is a final for the second place," Dortmund CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke commented in advance of the match in London before continuing, "Now we have to strike back at home against Tottenham. It's going to be a real challenge as we're in the most difficult group of all."
Dortmund will face Real at home on September 26 and Tottenham on November 21.
While Tottenham played a 5-4-1 system with a strong defense and fast counter attacking, Dortmund used defensive midfield system (4-2-1-3) that failed to prevent the Londoners' fast attacks. "Dortmund was far too open for a Champions League game," wrote the Sueddeutsche newspaper. According to the Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung, "Dortmund only gained experience against Tottenham"
It will take a while for Dortmund to get over the defeat. After three league games and one cup encounter, it was the first time they had conceded a goal this season. It will be interesting to see how team and coach deal with the first defeat that could affect their entire Champions league campaign as the next round is seen as a major goal. The game in London showed the team might need a lot more time to adopt their new coach's strategy.
While Bosz' came under fire, the club's officials complained about the performance of referee Gianluca Rocchi. The Italian missed a foul by Harry Kane just before Tottenham's second goal and wrongly disallowed a Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang strike for offside. "If we had leveled the scores at 2-2, I'd have loved to see how the game would have developed. I haven't got a clue why the referee saw an offside. The ref didn't match the high quality of the game," Dortmund's managing director Michael Zorc said.
The same judgement might also apply for coach Bosz and his tactics. It is said he stubbornly sticks to his path without considering other options often enough. This time Bosz seems to believe in a second chance. "They have to come to Dortmund and then we see what happens," he said talking about the return Tottenham in late November.
But first he and Dortmund will have to deal with 2016/2017 Champions league winner Real Madrid. As Real is a Spanish team, Bosz and Borussia could well go into the game with greater optimism.