Thursday, January 1, 2015

Cursing Borussia Dortmund

After the World Cup last year I decided to pick a team to support in each of the major European football leagues. For the Bundesliga I was drawn towards Borussia Dortmund. I liked their logo, colours, and name, and I remembered watching them in my hotel room on holiday stage a miraculous comeback in their UEFA Champions League semi-final against Malaga. I even went so far as to order from their online shop this t-shirt:

Basically as soon as I pulled that t-shirt on Dortmund’s fortunes plummeted. While they have continued to perform well in the Champions League this season, in the Bundesliga they are perilously close to relegation, as I continue to wake up week after week and quietly curse as I see that they have lost another match. As a result I have fallen victim to the old sports fan’s superstition that somehow me choosing to follow them has caused them to crash.
I wondered if I could trace the fall back to specific players, or the absence thereof due to injury, similar to how I have done on this blog before for AFL clubs. But in the course of trying to find the player statistics I came across the team statistics, and was struck by how decent they were. Consider how Dortmund rank this season:
Borussia Dortmund’s ranking in Bundesliga for 2014/15 season, as of end 2014:
General play:
Possession: #2
Pass success %: #4
Shots per game: #3
Shots on target per game: #5
Defense (higher number indicates better performance):
Shots conceded per game: #16
Fouls per game: #16
Generally these are things that appear to have been found to help a team win. Essentially the one thing that stands out that Dortmund hasn’t done well – apart from, well, kick goals – is getting shots from within six yards of goal, where they rank dead last. It looks to me then that Dortmund have not performed particularly badly, or at least not as badly as their ladder position suggests; they just haven’t been winning. Which is a different type of ‘cursing’ I suppose, though one that should correct itself. That is, assuming that my t-shirt purchase doesn’t cause Borussia Dortmund to be playing off in the Bundesliga 2 next season.  

Postscript: Here is some further analysis I found on Borussia Dortmund's statistics this season.

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