Dortmund: Rose unconcerned as Haaland struggles on return to line-up
In his first start for Borussia Dortmund since mid-January, Erling Braut Haaland could not prevent his team from being held by Köln.
Erling Braut Haaland is still finding his stride after returning from injury, Borussia Dortmund head coach Marco Rose says.
Haaland started for Dortmund for the first time since 22 January on Sunday, as his team were held to a 1-1 draw at Köln to dent their hopes of mounting a Bundesliga title challenge.
It was hardly a vintage display from the 21-year-old, who managed as many touches in his own box as Köln (four), while he missed both of Dortmund's best opportunities based on Opta's expected goals (xG) model.
Haaland, who may well be entering his final few months at BVB, drilled wide in the first half when one-on-one with Marvin Schwabe, who stood firm against the forward after the break, denying Dortmund's number nine from close range.
Those opportunities had a combined xG of 0.73. Essentially, Haaland had a 73 per cent chance of getting a goal from those chances.
"He had a good game": Dortmund not worried about Haaland
However, with Haaland getting 87 minutes under his belt before making way for Reinier Jesus, Rose has no doubt his star man will return to his best form after the international break.
"I'll start with Erling," Rose told a news conference. "I think the game was important for Erling. You must create chances, which he did once today with a big one.
"He had a good game. I briefly talked to him, and he knows that he's still missing something. But I think we're on a good path and he will score again if he returns healthy from the international break."
Dortmund are unbeaten in their last six Bundesliga games but have dropped valuable points against Augsburg and now Köln during that run, allowing Bayern Munich – who thrashed Union Berlin 4-0 on Saturday – to move six points clear at the top.
"I just said it in the interview outside, I will play this game with you. If we lose a game, you say 'you screwed up', then we win a game and Bayern drops points and I get asked if we are involved again in the title race," Rose said.
"So, it's almost a running gag now. We like to be up there and want to win games. We didn't win, so we are disappointed. The result of not winning football games is that the gap between Bayern and us is growing.
"But we also already had game days like last week where we got closer. We have seven more games after the international break. We play [RB] Leipzig at home in a sold-out stadium. We want to get the maximum out of this season."