Borussia Dortmund: Can 'Die Schwarzgelben' provide us with a more tantalising title race in 2013/14?
Borussia Dortmund’s league form last season was, at times, patchy to say the least. Some squandered leads, amateurish defending, and lack of composure meant that points were dropped in games that they shouldn’t have been. Eventually Dortmund finished a mammoth 25 points adrift of the Bayern Munich, a stunning turn around after BVB had claimed back-to-back league titles.
The New Boys
With their chequered past, you would have been excused for thinking BVB would be afraid to spend big this summer. However, with income from recent success, outgoing transfers, and increased publicity, the club have built the capacity to spend big, and remain within their means. BVB certainly have not shirked the opportunity to spend big this summer, and it was exactly what was necessary in order to compete with Bayern Munich.
Just 3 days after the Champions League Final it was announced that an agreement had been made to sign SV Werder Bremen defender Sokratis. Also courted by Bayer Leverkusen, Sokratis has spent two years in Germany, appearing 59 times for Bremen. The reported price tag of €9.5M reflects value – Sokratis is an experienced international and, as well as his preferred centre-half position, is adept cover at right-back.
The Key Men
All of them. It can’t be stressed enough that, the way Dortmund play, they need everyone firing to reach their very best. The intense pressing game and flowing, sweeping attacks that the world was exposed to via the Champions League did not mirror BVB domestically, where the players often failed to click and break down their opponents.
Of course, there will be certain players who stand out, but truly the burden will be shared. As the lone centre-forward, Robert Lewandowski will be expected to score the majority of the goals, but he should be helped along by Marco Reus and Jakub Blaszczykowski, who will look to add to the already impressive 25 goals and 19 assists they provided between them last season. Those sort of figures can also be expected from new signings Mkhitaryan and Aubameyang – and if all 5 of these players deliver then we are in for a treat.
In terms of building on last season, the key men will arguably be Nuri Sahin and Mats Hummels. Sahin returned to Dortmund last January, and is already showing with a full pre-season under his belt what he’s capable of, with performances reminiscent of his last spell at the club. If Sahin can hit top form as a deep lying playmaker in Dortmund’s double pivot, the former BVB captain could free up Ilkay Gündogan to play a more advanced role, one he excelled in in the recent Super Cup defeat of Bayern. Hummels, by his own admission, failed to reach top form last season, and often struggled for fitness. An on-form Mats Hummels, forming a strong partnership with Neven Subotic, makes the team an entirely different proposition to face altogether. Until New Year, the performances of Kevin Großkreutz and Sokratis at right-back will be absolutely crucial to ensure that Lukasz Piszczek isn’t missed too sorely.
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