Dortmund try to get back in the race without the top dog

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Borussia Dortmund coach, Peter Bosz, is weary of striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s tardiness and will seek to restart his team’s title challenge without him. BVB have not won a league game since September 30th and their six point lead over Bayern Munich at the top of the Bundesliga has been reversed. Moreover, their Champions league ambitions are in tatters with the club lying third in Group H and with only two points.

The Ruhr club’s top scorer, was half an hour late for the final training session ahead of the big game tonight, against VfB Stuttgart. As a result, Bosz has dropped him. The Gabon International striker’s lack of discipline has been something of an issue in the past. In fact he was left out of a Champions League game by then coach, Thomas Tuchel this time last year for making an unauthorised trip to Milan. If Tuchel’s decision was intended to instil a sense of discipline in the player then it does not appear to have worked.

Numerous German sports media outlets report that the 28 year old frequently reports late for training. It must be very easy to overlook such behaviour when the player is banging in the goals. Indeed, Aubameyang’s goal scoring record this season is impressive. So far he has netted 10 goals in 11 games. However, Borussia Dortmund’s fifth highest Bundesliga scorer of all time is going through a dry spell and has not found the back of the net since the Leipzig game in mid October. Given that he is not exactly delivering the goods it may have been a good idea if he turned up for his shift on time. You also have to ask what kind of message you’re sending your team mates.

Understandably the BVB coach, who is himself under pressure, has decided to draw a line in the sand and has left him behind.

Perhaps part of Aubameyang’s problem is that he is clearly the top dog. There isn’t really anyone else in the squad who plays as a central striker that can challenge him. Aleksander Isak is, presumably set to replace him in the long term but at 18 he is very young and still not ready. As it happens the tender Swede is also injured. Without the pressure of competition it’s easy for even the top players to pick up bad habits and become complacent.

On the other hand travelling to Stuttgart, who have yet to lose at home this season, without your top scorer is a bold move to say the least. Of course, Bosz has plenty of options up front and will probably look to combine Andriy Yarmolenko, Christian Pulisic and Maximilian Philipp in attack. Who knows, perhaps even the fit again André Schürrle, will play a role. Despite the contrasting form of both teams, the chances of Dortmund returning from Swabia with three points are still pretty good.

After being dropped a year ago, Aubameyang bounced back and scored in the next game against HSV. Dortmund’s next fixture, after Stuttgart, is a home Champions League game against Tottenham Hotspur. Perhaps this is a ruse by Peter Bosz to jump-start his chief goal getter’s batteries and score in this crucial match. While qualification for the knockout stage from their current position seems fanciful, the Europa League is still a realistic option for BVB. In fact it is not just realistic. It is essential. To not be playing European football after the Winter Break would be a sporting and financial blow and further intensify the criticism of the club and its coach.