'If we still had Erling Haaland, we'd win the league!' - Dortmund legend Karl-Heinz Riedle on finding the maturity to win the title and USMNT star Gio Reyna's difficult season
- Riedle on the Bundesliga race
- Believes Haaland would make difference
- Backs Reyna to shine when healthy
WHAT HAPPENED? Speaking to GOAL after Dortmund announced that they'll face Chelsea in Chicago this summer, Riedle reflected on the current campaign, which sees Dortmund sitting one point behind Bayern Munich with four games remaining. Both sides have had several chances to pull away, but have dropped points, leading to a thrilling end of the Bundesliga season.
Riedle, who won the league twice with Dortmund and once with Werder Bremen, believes Dortmund are right there with Bayern but may just lack the maturity needed to claim the title, although the presence of Haaland would have made up for that lack of maturity if he hadn't departed to join Manchester City this summer.
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WHAT THEY SAID: "It's difficult to explain," Riedle told GOAL. "If we would have Haaland still in the team, I'm quite sure this season, we would be many more points in front! 30 goals, whatever he scored last year or however many, we are missing this a little bit, but the team is doing quite well. We've been a little bit lucky because Bayern Munich were dropping too many points that nobody expected and Dortmund in the last few games have dropped points where you normally shouldn't drop points in Schalke, Werder Bremen and Stuttgart.
"At Bochum, we've been very unlucky with decisions from the VAR, but at the end of the day, it's always the same thing. We were very close but in very, very crucial games, they are not performing like they should perform when you want to win a title and that is the problem for the last six, seven years.
"Two or three seasons before we were about nine points clear of Bayern Munich and we lost games there. It looks like the team in the moment is still not mature enough to win a title but you'll never know... We hope that we can do it, but it will be tough."
AND WHAT'S MORE: When asked about a current Dortmund player, Reyna, Riedle was quick to praise the young U.S. men's national team star.
Reyna has certainly had bright moments for Dortmund but, over the last year or so, injuries have derailed his progress. After missing much of 2022, he's largely come off the bench in 2023, having been unable to crack Dortmund's starting XI.
Riedle wants to see what a healthy Reyna can do when given the chance, and he believes the preseason trip to the U.S., where Dortmund will face the likes of Chelsea and Manchester United, will be the perfect place to prove himself.
"He is a fantastic player," Riedle said. "He's been very unlucky with injuries for nearly one year, so every time he gets really close to being in the starting lineup, something happened to him. Now, it's very difficult for him to get into the team. We have Adeyemi and Mallen in absolutely top form, so for him, he has to wait and he has to find the right moment to get in.
"There's no doubt he's a really quality player. He has everything. What do you need? He has a good finish. He is good on one-on-one. I think he needs to be calm and maybe when we come [to the U.S.] for the preseason, that's a new start for the new season and maybe he needs to be without injuries then. I think he can go a long way and he can even be one of the starting players."
THE BIGGER PICTURE: Bayern have won the Bundesliga title in each of the past 10 seasons, with Dortmund falling just short with six second-place finishes during that span. They may just have to settle for second again this season as they do have a tougher schedule over the final four games. Bayern, though, do face the most difficult match as they take on RB Leipzig in one of their final fixtures.
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WHAT NEXT? Dortmund will face Wolfsburg at home on Sunday as they look to keep up the pressure on Bayern, who take on Werder Bremen on Saturday.