By Enis Koylu
Once upon a time, Borussia Dortmund were the most exciting team in Europe. With a host of young stars, an upstart maverick of a coach and one of the most iconic stadiums in the world, watching BVB play was always a tantalising experience.
How times have changed. The 2-1 loss to Zenit St Petersburg was one of the worst performances they have produced in the Jurgen Klopp era and entirely in keeping with a season which has had more than its fair share of difficulties.
Despite the defeat, they can count on a place in pot two of next season's Champions League draw as their 4-2 win in Russia three weeks ago ensured qualification for this edition's quarter-finals. However, they are about to receive a massive dose of reality about their future in the competition.
It looked like a fairly inconspicuous incident when Robert Lewandowski went flying at a corner into the Zenit box, but a slight nudge in the back forced him to handle the ball and pick up a harsh yellow card from referee Alberto Undiano.
|DIRE DORTMUND LIMP THROUGH
Match stats | BVB 1-2 Zenit
The display they produced against the Russians was dreadful. Zenit are going through a horror season of their own, which cost long-standing coach Luciano Spalletti his job in between the two legs, yet BVB were unable to craft clear-cut chances, despite their territorial advantage. And that was with Lewandowski.
It leaves you wondering how they would cope with a better team than the St Petersburg side. Last term, they failed to win a single knockout game away from home, but were able to rely on their home form. This time, they have already lost four games at Signal Iduna Park in the Bundesliga and two in the Champions League.
Dortmund have always been a team capable of upsetting the odds and turning up when their backs are against the wall. The last three years have been littered with victories over Bayern Munich and few will forget the 4-1 thrashing of Real Madrid in last season's semi-final.
But they have been rattled this term as they deal with numerous high-profile sales and injuries, and Lewandowski's suspension is the last thing they can afford. Soon enough, they will have to cope without him on a full-time basis as he nears his free transfer to the Allianz Arena. The quarter-final will be a harsh glimpse of what awaits BVB next season.
On their run to the final last season, the club's social media team was using #Fairytale at the end of every Tweet. #Nightmare might be more apt for what lies ahead.