Borussia Dortmund must tighten their defence and trust teenage striker Erling Braut Haaland to provide the goals against Bundesliga giant-killers Eintracht Frankfurt on Friday after a “week to forget”.
Dortmund conceded two goals inside 82 seconds late on during last Saturday’s 4-3 defeat at Bayer Leverkusen which left senior club bosses fuming.
After eight goals in his four previous games, it was the first time new signing Haaland, 19, had failed to score for Dortmund.
Former captain Sebastian Kehl said the Leverkusen defeat capped a “week to forget”, four days after being dumped out of the German Cup with a 3-2 loss at Werder Bremen.
“We’re conceding too many goals, which often means we lose the reward for our work as we’re scoring enough,” said sporting director Michael Zorc.
The league and cup disappointments leave third-placed Dortmund lagging four points behind leaders Bayern Munich.
It will be no easy task to reboot their title challenge at Signal Iduna Park against Frankfurt, while they also have Tuesday’s Champions League last-16 first leg against Paris Saint-Germain looming on the horizon.
Dortmund are missing injured forwards Marco Reus and Julian Brandt, while visitors Frankfurt have already claimed two big scalps in the league this season.
Bayern suffered a humiliating 5-1 defeat in Frankfurt last November, and second-placed RB Leipzig also went down 2-0 at the Commerzbank Arena in January.
Dortmund coach Lucien Favre has been correcting defensive flaws in training after neither Manuel Akanji nor centre-back partner Mats Hummels covered themselves in glory in Leverkusen.
“It takes time to correct a few things, but it’s coming,” said Favre, who comes under more pressure with each defeat.
“I don’t see any other solution apart from work, work, work.”
In the four Bundesliga games since the winter break, Dortmund have scored 18 goals but conceded eight.
January signing Emre Can urged his teammates to “play dirty – a foul here, defend better there”.
Eintracht welcome back Dutch striker Bas Dost after a stomach bug kept him sidelined for last weekend’s 5-0 thumping of Augsburg.
Bayern could be without captain and goalkeeper Manuel Neuer at Cologne on Sunday as the Germany skipper has a virus, with reserve keeper Sven Ulreich on stand-by.
The reigning champions are bidding for a seventh win in eight league games, after being held to a goalless draw by Leipzig last Sunday.
The spotlight falls on Hertha Berlin’s new caretaker coach for Saturday’s league game at bottom side Paderborn after Jurgen Klinsmann’s midweek bombshell, with the former Germany striker quitting after just 10 weeks in charge.
Having agreed to coach Hertha for the rest of the season, Klinsmann explained his abrupt decision by hinting at a power struggle with Hertha general manager Michael Preetz.
However, Hertha investor Lars Windhorst issued a damning rebuke of Klinsmann’s behaviour.
“You can do that in your youth, but not in professional business, where you have to fulfil agreements,” said the wealthy businessman.
Nouri, who has been sacked by Bremen and second-division Ingolstadt in recent seasons, has his work cut out rebuilding confidence as last Saturday’s 3-1 defeat at home to Mainz pushed Hertha towards the relegation places.
36 – Number of goals Haaland has scored this season in 27 games for Salzburg and Dortmund.
7 – Goals Dortmund have conceded in their last two games.
76 – Days that Jurgen Klinsmann spent as head coach of Hertha Berlin.
Fixtures (all times 1430 GMT unless stated)
Borussia Dortmund v Eintracht Frankfurt (1930)
RB Leipzig v Werder Bremen, Hoffenheim v VfL Wolfsburg, Augsburg v Freiburg, Paderborn v Hertha Berlin, Union Berlin v Bayer Leverkusen, Fortuna Duesseldorf v Borussia Moenchengladbach (1730)
Cologne v Bayern Munich, Mainz 05 v Schalke 04 (1700)