Borussia Dortmund have turned things around in Germany. If last season’s incredible title run was the opening act, winning Bundesliga titles back to back, going undefeated 26 matches to close out the season (not over yet), makes you think of them as potential Champions League winners next season.
Getting ahead of ourselves? Maybe, maybe not. Dortmund have the potential of becoming the second empire in Germany. They won the Champions League in 1997, but betting on a Champions League future sent the club into years of financial problems and league mediocrity, except for the 2002 surprising title.
While Bayern Munich won two of their last title with individual superiority, mostly by Franck Ribery and Luca Toni in 2008 and with Ribery and Robben in 2010, Dortmund is all about team. No wonder the biggest star on this incredible football machine is the head coach, 44 year old Jurgen Klopp.
Dortmund’s lack of success on the European stage during the last couple of seasons may benefit them in helping the team keep their best players, and most of all their manager, who has been there since 2008. It began with a sixth place finish, then fifth, and now two league titles, the club’s 8th league title.
Bayern Munich stormed out of the gates earlier this season. Robben, Ribery and Schweinsteiger were playing perfect football. Dortmund were finding it hard managing and combining life with the Champions League, were they failed in a group with Arsenal, Marseille and Olympiakos. It wasn’t just the dual competition trap. Handling life without Nuri Sahin and the injured Kagawa proved difficult, even for the meteoric Mario Gotze.
Months later, and things couldn’t have been more different for both teams. Bayern are still in the Champions League, but it seems that the social situation in the club is a mess. If Robben’s relationship with Heynckes wasn’t enough, came the dressing room fight with Franck Ribery and the little shiner under Robben’s eye. It didn’t seem to affect them against Werder Bremen, but that 90th minute win was too little, too late.
And that seems to be Dortmund’s secret, in the face of the flashy opposition. Team. Great players, but none of them a star. Gotze seems like the only one with star-quality in this team, and they did perfectly well without him as Kagawa returned from his injury. Lucas Barrios? The Paraguayan striker scored 35 goals in his first two season with the club. This year? Only one. No one seemed to miss him.
The list is long, where credits are due – Roman Weidenfeller, Neven Subotic, the captain Sebastian Kehl, Robert Lewandowski (20 goals so far this season), Ivan Perisic, Matt Hummels (one of the best centre backs in the world today), Kuba, Grosskreutz, Gundogan, Kagawa, Piszczek and Schmelzer. Who?! The best players in Germany today.
I hope this exceptional gets a little further in the Champions League next season. Watching them play against the best in the continent – Barcelona, Real Madrid, Manchester United and who knows what the power struggle will present us next season. Dortmund don’t have the ‘Champions League’ experience, they just have excellent players and an excellent team. Defending as a unit, attacking as a unit. Playing something unlike any other club in Europe today. Lets hope this group stays together for at least one more season to show just how good they are.