A lethargic and uninspired Dortmund played to a scoreless draw away to Malaga on Wednesday in the first leg of the clubs' Champions League quarterfinals tie.
The German champions were heavy favorites entering the match, having dispatched a strong Shakhtar Donetsk side by a 5-2 aggregate score in the Round of 16, and being drawn against one of the weaker sides remaining in the competition.
Yet, a slew of chances went begging and Jurgen Klopp's disappointing side seemed fully content to take a scoreless draw into the second leg.
The tie could have been done and dusted by now, with Mario Gotze failing to beat Willy on two occasions in which he found himself one-on-one with the Malaga goalkeeper.
The 20-year-old missed again in the second half, albeit from a tighter angle, after Robert Lewandowski fired painfully wide when found unmarked near the penalty spot.
Gotze's partner in crime, Marco Reus, was more disappointing. Usually far more clinical, the Germany international had one free kick flash wide and another shot from distance cause little trouble for Willy. Other than that, he had precious little to offer.
BVB lacked sharpness not only in finishing, but in possession. Their pass completion rate was just a hair over 75 percent, a far cry from their usual slick selves.
Dortmund were the better team at La Rosaleda, but this did not look the same side that beat Real Madrid and Manchester City last fall. They pressed less and moved less as a unit; in the first half especially, there was space between midfield and defense for Malaga to attack.
And although they tightened up defensively after the break, they were always just one shot from heading into the second leg with their backs against the wall.
Poor mentality is an epidemic in modern German football. It cost Dortmund in last year's Champions League, as stage fright clearly got the better of them and they were eliminated in the group stage.
It similarly cost Bayern Munich in the Champions League final last season, and Germany at Euro 2012. And for all the good Dortmund have done on the international stage this season, it seems they may have suffered a relapse—one that could not have come at a worse time.
BVB are a young team, and they are in uncharted territory now. Maybe they will turn it all around with a dominant display at home next week, but if they do advance, a performance away from home similar to that they gave on Wednesday will surely see them eliminated in the semifinals.
Dortmund remain favorites to advance at Malaga's expense, but they looked far from Champions League contenders on Wednesday night. Their dream lives on, but they have it all to do if they are to advance to the semifinals.
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