More questions than answers for Dortmund coach Rose after Cup exit

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Bundesliga - VfL Wolfsburg v Borussia Dortmund - Volkswagen Arena, Wolfsburg, Germany - November 27, 2021 Borussia Dortmund coach Marco Rose before the match REUTERS/Cathrin Mueller /File Photo

BERLIN (Reuters) - Borussia Dortmund coach Marco Rose had imagined his first season at the Ruhr valley club differently but just past the halfway mark, his team is playing catch-up, with fourth-placed Hoffenheim awaiting on Saturday.

Rose, who came to Dortmund from Borussia Moenchengladbach on a five million euro transfer, now has only the Bundesliga title and the Europa League to fight for.

Having been eliminated from the Champions League at the group stage, Dortmund were hoping to defend their German Cup title with favourites and league leaders Bayern Munich already being eliminated.

Instead, they suffered a 2-1 loss to second-tier club St Pauli to crash out of the competition on Tuesday.

For Rose, whose task was to form a team that could seriously challenge Bayern for domestic silverware, there are now more questions about Dortmund's inconsistency this season than about which title they could still win.

"We have to take that next step as a team," a frustrated Rose said after their German Cup exit. "We have to be able to show from the start the energy that we will invest in a game as a team because it is about titles."

Adding to Rose's woes is top striker Erling Haaland's complaints about what he calls pressure from club bosses to discuss his contract.

The Norwegian striker, one of the hottest transfer targets for top European clubs, has bagged a staggering 79 goals in 78 matches in all competitions for Dortmund, including eight goals in seven German Cup matches.

Lying in second place, six points behind Bayern, Dortmund are by no means out of the Bundesliga title race.

But they must cut down on defensive errors and become more consistent in their performances if they are to stay in the Bundesliga race.

Dortmund have conceded 29 goals this season, three more than 17th-placed Arminia Bielefeld. They have won three of their last six league games and are on 40 points, with Bayern on 46.

"We will hopefully now train hard and make sure that on Saturday we find a way to somehow react to the (German Cup) result," Rose said.

Any slipup at this stage could prove costly for Dortmund's Bundesliga season as they chase their first league title in a decade.

Bayern, hunting a record-extending 10th straight league crown, travel to Hertha Berlin on Sunday.

(Reporting by Karolos Grohmann; Editing by Karishma Singh)

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