Bundesliga - Dortmund: Haller's curse

Bundesliga - Dortmund: Haller's curse

This season has ended badly for Sébastien Haller. After a six-month battle with testicular cancer, the Côte d'Ivoire international had returned to the Bundesliga with the intention of making up for lost time. Everything had gone swimmingly until the final matchday, when the league title fell to Bayern Munich. It was a major setback for the Elephant, who were really counting on this title to finally put behind them all the sacrifices made during their troubled period.

There are times when fate takes its toll on a person. Nothing goes right. Disillusionment follows disillusionment and worries persist. With Sébastien Haller, the 2022-2023 season is one to forget. Operated twice for a testicular tumour in July and November 2022, the Ivorian striker spent six months battling the disease. It wasn't easy.

The Elephant drew on his last resources to stay on his feet through this difficult ordeal. He never gave up the fight, and Haller always believed that he would have to keep the faith to return to the football pitch and do what he loves best in life: play. And so it proved on 22 January 2023. Haller made his comeback against Augsburg (a 4-3 victory) on matchday 16. He had been waiting six months for this moment. "I'm impressed by the speed with which Seb has found his feet. Physically, he's imposing. In training, you don't realise that he's been out for almost six months. He's a force of nature. What a great player! You can't help but have immense respect for him. What strength of character," enthused Jude Bellingham in an interview with L'Equipe.

After spending almost half the season on the sidelines, Haller stepped up a gear from January to May. With nine goals and 3 assists in 19 appearances, the former Ajax striker did extremely well, despite the long months of boredom. All that remained was the ultimate reward: the league title.

On Saturday 27 May, Sébastien Haller was able to forget all the pain he had experienced at the start of the 2022-2023 season. And on this 34th and final day of the Bundesliga, the Marsupiaux of Dortmund had their destiny in their own hands. All they needed was a home win over Mainz to finally put an end to the dictatorship of Bayern Munich, who were seeking their 11th consecutive trophy. Dortmund (70 points) had two more than their runners-up. The stage was thus set, with 80,000 spectators in the stadium. A veritable flood of yellow.

Except that what had started out as a great evening soon turned into a nightmare. Dortmund could only manage a 2-2 draw at the end of normal time, leaving Bayern to clinch the title in the process. And what about Sébastien Haller? He was simply cursed. He missed a penalty in the 19th minute when he had the equaliser under his belt. Had he scored, the match would certainly have taken a different turn. His troubles continued with a goal disallowed for offside in the 95th minute. Nothing had gone right for Haller, who had been eagerly awaited in this game.

It was an unfortunate end for the player who would have been able to forget all the suffering he had endured this season had he won the German championship. Unfortunately, that was not to be the case for Haller.

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