Do Dortmund deserve to win the Bundesliga?
Edin Terzic's side have been neck-and-neck with Bayern Munich for most of 2023, but the Westfalen club still lack the performances and results to suggest they're ready to win the league title.
And all of a sudden there was chaos. As if Friday’s feisty Ruhrderby hadn’t offered enough entertainment and drama on the pitch, emotions quickly spilled off it at full time when Borussia Dortmund’s camp were given the opportunity to bemoan a referee decision that, according to them, robbed the Bundesliga title challengers of two justified points and forced them to share the spoils in a hard-fought 1-1 draw with Bochum.
"I simply told the referee and the entire team what I think of these decisions and how much is at stake here,” said an incensed Edin Terzic at full time, referring to referee Sascha Stegemann’s decision to not award a penalty in the 65th minute when Karim Adeyemi was brought down in the Bochum box by a clumsy slide tackle form Danilo Soares. "I said it last week, it's a once-in-a-lifetime chance for us, maybe a once-in-a-lifetime chance for me to get so close to the championship trophy in my life. And then there are decisions like that."
Terzic had a point. The tackle from Soares was entirely needless and even if Adeyemi had leaned into the oncoming defender to draw the foul, it still seemed like a clear and obvious call. Bizarrely, Stegemann didn’t even seem to consider the foul and got no feedback from the team in Köln that VAR would offer up a different call. A move that drove Dortmund sporting director, Sebastian Kehl, apoplectic in the mixed zone after the game. When asked about the officials not taking a second look at the call, the former club captain said: “If you don't use the means you have at your disposal in this situation, don't watch it, then I think that's negligent, cowardly and completely wrong."
However, to slightly alter the old saying, “Hell hath no fury like a football club scorned’ and while Kehl & Co. may have felt justified in their post-match claims, such indignation couldn’t have possibly matched the undoubted but perhaps subconscious relief of having something and someone so clear to blame for another dreadful performance. Had the referee missed a few important calls? Undoubtedly. Did Dortmund feel just as angry about Bochum’s clear penalty claim 10 minutes before the Adeyemi call, when Mats Hummels unquestionably brought down Takuma Asano? Of course not.
In truth, Dortmund may have huffed and puffed at the Ruhrstadion, but when we take a closer look at the performance and indeed the kind of season Terzic’s side are having, there’s far more to suggest that these apparent title contenders are hardly performing above and beyond their capacity or that they were robbed of three points and a clear path to the Bundesliga title.
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