BERLIN (Reuters) - Last season’s Bundesliga runners-up Borussia Dortmund could never have imagined that Saturday’s league clash against strugglers Freiburg will be key in their battle to avoid relegation.
But even the former European champions’ most hardcore fans woke up to the danger ahead when Dortmund lost 1-0 to visitors Augsburg on Wednesday to stay firmly in last place after their 11th loss in 19 games.
They are now anchored in 18th spot on 16 points with Freiburg two ahead in 15th and if they are not to lose touch with the other relegation-threatened teams then they have to land their first win of the year.
Since the season restart last week, Dortmund, champions in 2011 and 2012 as well as Champions League finalists in 2013, have managed just one point from their two games so far, continuing their disastrous season.
”We keep making mistakes and we need to stop that instantly,“ coach Juergen Klopp said. ”We are fitter than in the first half of the season but we need to show a reaction against Freiburg.
“We have to go there and show that we still operate as one unit.”
Klopp will not have midfielder Kevin Grosskreutz at his disposal after the Germany international picked up a thigh muscle injury on Wednesday.
With fans’ patience quickly running out and some Dortmund players rushing to them after the defeat to talk to them, Klopp knows he needs results, and he needs them now.
“What should the people do?” he said after his team was jeered off the pitch. “The fans are disappointed and angry. Some of them fear for the future of the club. This is fully understandable.”
At the other end of the table, Bundesliga leaders Bayern Munich may still be eight points clear at the top but are also yet to win this year.
There is no talk of any crisis at Bayern, who travel to lowly VfB Stuttgart, but Pep Guardiola’s team has so far failed to convince, slumping to their first league loss at VfL Wolfsburg last week and drawing 1-1 at home against Schalke on Tuesday.
“We have been improving since the 4-1 at Wolfsburg,” Bayern midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger said. “But now we will go to Stuttgart to win.”
Second-placed Wolfsburg will keep up their hunt of Bayern with new club-record signing Andre Schurrle in the squad against Hoffenheim.
Editing by Sudipto Ganguly