Matthias Sammer was in top form in contrast to the players on the pitch. The final whistle from Spanish referee Jesus Gil Manzano at the Prinzenpark Stadium was not long ago when Borussia Dortmund’s official advisor launched into a tirade against the referee. In the panel of experts on broadcaster Amazon Prime, Sammer complained about the referee’s “total wrong decision” shortly after the restart. Manzano had whistled for a handball by BVB defender Niklas Süle in the penalty area, and Kylian Mbappé converted the resulting penalty to secure a 1-0 lead.

Sammer saw the decision – at least that’s what he conveyed to TV viewers – as the real reason for Dortmund’s 2-0 defeat. “But when you play against Paris, the 1-0 is very decisive,” analyzed Sammer in a sound in which, as is typical for Sammer, a slightly offended tone mixed with indignation. He casually admitted that “PSG was better than Dortmund, of course.”

The fact that Sammer’s judgment on the hand penalty may have been subjective is demonstrated by a judgment by former DFB referee Thorsten Kinhöfer, who evaluated controversial decisions for the “Bild” newspaper: “The interpretation corresponds to UEFA’s specifications. That’s why the referee did everything right . (…).” Kinhöfer, however, added that such decisions were not in the “spirit of football”. This can of course be understood as a concession to angry BVB fans and the general anger that regularly boils up over handball decisions.

The real purpose of Sammer’s tirade about vain and misguided referees (“They’re strutting”) may have been different: to light a smokescreen and distract from the team’s real problems. The defeat in Paris made it clear that there is a growing gap between expectations and reality at BVB. As with the mixed start to the Bundesliga, the team seemed unsettled at the start of the Champions League. Sammer at least admitted that these were “really bad signals,” particularly coming from the weak offensive that evening in Paris.

Coach Edin Terzic opted for a defensive approach against PSG, while he let Karim Adeyemi and Donyell Malen play in the attack. That went terribly wrong. The tactics with three central defenders, a five-man chain and no central striker apparently paralyzed the team. BVB did not take advantage of the open spaces that Paris offered. Instead, Dortmund produced one bad pass after another in the forward game. Only when Terzic brought Marco Reus, Niclas Füllkrug and Jamie Bynoe-Gittens did things get a little better. However, there was only one real threat to the Paris goal when Bynoe-Gittens hit the outside post with a long-range shot. Terzic will have to be blamed for his defensive tactics after the unsuccessful start to the Champions League. “We ran after the ball a lot,” complained Emre Can.

In this form, Dortmund has no chance of survival in the demanding group with PSG, Milan and Newcastle United, and there are likely to be problems in the Bundesliga if the coach doesn’t get the obvious problems under control. Sports director Sebastian Kehl saw “too much larifari” among the players after the game against PSG and therefore an attitude problem. In the league, Schluffi’s attitude led to draws against VfL Bochum and 1. FC Heidenheim. One reason for the “Larifari” was observed in Paris: the BVB professionals lacked mutual support.

The problems on offense are also obvious. Of all the attackers, only Donyell Malen has scored three times so far. Sébastien Haller, Niclas Füllkrug, Youssoufa Moukoko and Karim Adeyemi are yet to score in the Bundesliga. Only Marco Reus scored once as a substitute to make it 4-2 against ten Freiburg players in the final phase.

Kehl may also have to listen to criticism soon. The departures of Jude Bellingham (to Real Madrid) and Raphael Guerreiro (to Bayern Munich) in particular mean a loss of quality. It remains to be seen whether the expensive successors Felix Nmecha or Marcel Sabitzer will compensate for the loss. There are doubts, especially with Nmecha. The same applies to the decision to appoint Emre Can as the team’s captain. Can undoubtedly has a great fighting heart and the necessary professionalism, but is too limited in terms of play to meet the highest quality standards.

It is too early to talk about a real crisis. BVB is currently in 7th place in the table, but is only two points behind the top. But in Dortmund the debates quickly boil up, including about the coach. The conditions for a crisis are met. But it is not clear whether she will actually come. What is clear is that the climate will become significantly harsher if there is no significant improvement in the next Bundesliga game on Saturday at home against Wolfsburg.

Sources: “Amazon Prime”, DPA