In comparison to this stage last season, Borussia Dortmund can hardly complain at the position they find themselves in.
Thomas Tuchel has led his charges to second position in the Bundesliga behind perennial leaders Bayern Munich, 17 places and 18 points better off than the same stage last season.
Dortmund’s early season form owes much to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Marco Reus’s goalscoring exploits, sharing 24 Bundesliga goals between the Bundesliga’s second top team scorers.
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BVB’s revitalised form has suffered bumps in the road, most notably a huge defeat at Bayern, but the Signal Iduna Park faithful may have more to worry about from a defeat to Hamburg two weeks ago.
Hummels' turgid performance - and not for the first time
Not only did they suffer a 3-1 reverse but also Mats Hummels’ recent form appears more a terminal decline than a temporary blip.
The 26-year-old is widely regarded as one of the world’s leading defenders and rightly so, having been an integral part of Germany’s World Cup winning side.
Yet since that famous night just over 500 days ago in Brazil, Hummels has flattered to deceive at club level.
Plagued by a persistent knee injury, his drop in form started during Dortmund’s blunder-filled 2014/15, as the German giants were forced to claw their way back from bottom place.
Hummels later admitted to being overweight for large parts of the season due to comfort eating, leaving a worrying question mark over his temperament.
He re-discovered his high standards as Dortmund made a blistering start under Tuchel until a string of recent poor performances undermined his supposed recovery.
A disastrous own goal in the defeat at HSV followed being at fault for two goals in the Revierderby vs Schalke, with questionable performances coming in games against Augsburg and Werder Bremen before that, too.
Subsequently, he started on the bench in last weekend's 4-1 victory over Stuttgart, before replacing Reus in the 80th minute of the game.
Ill-advised Tweet shows questionable mind-set
Defenders often mature in their later years and few doubt Hummels will do the same.
His mind-set and ability to handle criticism on open forums, however, needs to improve with age as well.
That the defender made such an admission about his weight problems was admirably honest and provided a rare insight into how footballer’s can be affected off-field by their on-field exploits.
However his recent Twitter rant, berating those who berated his HSV performance on social media, is the kind of reaction best kept away from the public's view.
Why? Because he is a target now. Trolls and criticisers know their Tweets will reach their intended target and harsh words will only avalanche in his direction.
Time for a fresh start?
Among his poor performances, reported rifts with manager Tuchel and a transfer request, according to some reports, is forthcoming.
A number of top European clubs are rumoured to be chasing his signature, starting with Manchester United.
But rather than signing the three-times Bundesliga winner riding on a euphoric wave from 2014, Hummels has appeared to hit a glass ceiling in Germany.
Sometimes a change seems the right decision for certain players and Hummels’ long association with BVB may have come to a natural end.
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