Dortmund have been branded too “immature” to win the Bundesliga title race with Bayern Munich after mistakes by youngsters Dan-Axel Zagadou and Achraf Hakimi contributed to their shock defeat at Augsburg.
Dortmund’s title ambitions were dented by Friday’s 2-1 away defeat after a slip by Zagadou, 19, led to Ji Dong-won scoring Augsburg’s first goal before the South Korean striker pounced on a lazy pass by Hakimi, 20, to score his second.
“They are immature, just immature,” Eurosport pundit and ex-Dortmund coach Matthias Sammer said of the leaders’ defence, which has an average age of 21.
“The game was decided in the head.”
Sammer believes the lack of experience, among the likes of Zagadou, Hakimi and England winger Jadon Sancho, 18, is a contributing factor in Dortmund winning just one of their last seven games in all competitions.
It’s poor preparation for hosting Tottenham Hotspur on Tuesday in the Champions League last 16, return leg tie needing to overturn a 3-0 first-leg defeat.
Zagadou and Hakimi’s mistakes in Augsburg could “prevent” Dortmund being champions this season — “and you can’t be a champion at just 19 or 20,” insisted Sammer, 51, an external advisor for Dortmund since August.
Paco Alcacer scored Dortmund’s late consolation goal, but the leaders could finish the weekend level on 54 points with defending champions Bayern if Niko Kovac’s side win at Borussia Moenchengladbach on Saturday.
Having so far surrendered 10 league points to struggling teams Hanover 96, Fortuna Duesseldorf, bottom side Nuremberg and now Augsburg, Sammer says Dortmund played “not like champions, but like an average team” in each case.
Following Friday’s defeat, Dortmund goalkeeper Roman Burki said he showed great restraint “not to rip anyone’s head off” while captain Marco Reus said Dortmund effectively scored Augsburg’s goals “ourselves after two individual mistakes”.
Head coach Lucien Favre refused to recognise a growing pattern of defensive lapses “we always have our chances”, but Sammer slammed the Swiss boss for his approach as poor recent results have cut Dortmund’s lead down from nine points.
“If you want to achieve something big, but do not publicly point to the problem, then things can get difficult,” said Sammer “that gets on my nerves”.