Borussia Dortmund’s start to the 2016/17 season has been disappointing.
In a season in which Bayern Munich, regardless of their quality, are going through transition, the expectation was that Dortmund would provide a strong challenge for the Bavarian side.
Dortmund’s 5-2 win over Hamburg was their first Bundesliga win since September and Thomas Tuchel’s side enters the last international break of the year in fifth place. A record of five wins, three draws and two losses isn’t horrible, but slightly surprising.
One of those losses came at the hands of the Bundesliga’s surprise team so far this season, the newly promoted Red Bull Leizpig. Red Bull are currently Bayern’s sternest challengers, and are level on points with the champions, but have yet to face the juggernaut. The other teams above Dortmund include TSG Hoffenheim, who drew with Bayern at the weekend, and Hertha Berlin.
History suggests the cream usually rises to the top and these teams will eventually fall off but Red Bull in particular seem capable of pulling a Leicester, as it were. Dortmund, meanwhile, have their own issues to sort out.
The laundry list of outgoing and incoming changes at Signal Iduna Park makes the slow start somewhat understandable. Dortmund finished 10 points off the pace last season in second place but three key faces left during the summer. Any team would have found it difficult to replace the varied talents and experience of Mats Hummels, Ilkay Gundogan and Henrikh Mkhitaryan. Dortmund’s approach saw the club bring in players who have failed to live up to their full potential, like Mario Gotze and Marc Bartra, and wonder-kids like Ousmane Dembele. The effect has been mixed.
The stand-out performer so far from the new signings is Raphael Guerreiro, the Portuguese left back who has been extremely impressive in a midfield role. Both Dembele and fellow wonder-kid, Emre Mor, have shown flashes of their potential while Bartra put in some decent performances early on. Gotze and Andre Schurrle haven’t been hugely disappointing so far but more is expected from two well-established senior internationals. Marco Reus’ constant injury issues are further cause for frustration and one can envisage a much stronger side when all the senior players are fit and firing. In total, seven new players have been brought that have played a decent role so far.
Tuchel has tried to rotate things to keep players happy and that has played a part in the early form. Those decisions will help keep legs fresh towards the end of the season, but also means players like Shinji Kagawa have yet to find their best form. Consistency across the board has been a key issue for Dortmund so far this season.
There have been good signs from some players though, with Christian Pulisic continuing to progress well and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang retaining his prolific form. Aubameyang’s goals are the cherry on top of a league-leading 25 goals, to go along with 11 in the Champions League.
That attack hasn’t suffered too much after the departures but there is work needed in the defense. The 12 goals conceded in the Bundesliga is the worst among those currently in the top seven although it is keeping in line with the 34 goals conceded in 34 games last season. More time to adapt to Hummels’ departure and the new talents to adjust defensively should fix that issue.
The January transfer will be key for Dortmund, as Tuchel will need to streamline the squad without ridding it of too much depth or quality. A place in the knockout rounds of the Champions League has already been secured and a decent run will be expected in the German Cup. Bayern will also be fighting on three fronts and their focus on the Champions League might leave them vulnerable domestically.
Carlo Ancelotti’s side has only shown glimpses of the imperious form that was on display under Pep Guardiola. The Italian’s track record in league campaigns isn’t the greatest and that has shown in Bayern’s rocky start. The league leaders will visit Dortmund when league play resumes and that game will show how much work needs to be done. It is only 10 games into the season, 11 after the derby is complete, but if Bayern find a groove it will be hard to catch up.
There is a long road ahead and certainly no need for Dortmund to panic. This is a youthful squad shorn of a few leaders, both through transfer and injuries, so some growing pains can be expected. Dortmund has the talent to surpass those ahead of them not named Bayern Munich. If the likes of Gotze, Schurrle and Reus provide the quality they are capable of then the end of the Bundesliga season will be a lot closer than previous seasons. A win against Bayern in their first meeting would be a good way to start. Dortmund bought for the future over the summer but they can get something out of the present as well.
Featured Image: All rights reserved by indolivescore
Done Deal: Swansea City sign Renato Sanches from Bayern Munich on season-long loan
In a summer transfer window full of crazy and unexpected moves, Swansea City may have just put the icing on top of the cake as the South Wales outfit have secured a deal for Bayern Munich’s Renato Sanches.
Paul Clement has well and truly proved the old cliché ‘it’s not what you know, it’s who you know’ and utilised his contacts from his time as the German side’s assistant coach to push a deal through.
Who is Renato Sanches?
The Portuguese midfielder originally made a name for himself coming through the Benfica youth system as child, being signed up in 2006, and since then he moved from Benfica ‘B’ to the first-team.
During his solitary season playing in Portugal he quickly became a key member of their starting eleven, featuring six times in the Champions League, and he alerted the attention of Europe’s elite.
But it was Bayern Munich who secured a lucrative deal for Sanches last summer, setting the Bundesliga side back £27.5 million, and it was thought that he would be the next big young midfielder.
It hasn’t quite worked out like that in the past 12 months though, starting just four league matches all season, and a spell in the Premier League may be what’s needed for him to rejuvenate his career.
What is the deal?
The two sides have come to an agreement – as reported on Swansea’s official website – that sees Sanches arriving on a season-long loan at the Liberty Stadium, completing the necessary paperwork yesterday.
Where will he fit in at the Liberty?
With talisman Gyfli Sigurdsson leaving in a £45 million move to Everton, there’s a distinct lack of attacking prowess in the Swansea City midfield and this is where Sanches is worth his weight in gold.
He is a stereotypical box-to-box midfielder, having excellent technical ability and skills when in possession of the ball and always loking to use his power try drive forward and influence attacks.
And alongside that boss Clement knows that he’ll bring his endless work-rate to the Swans, adding much-needed defensive steel to a somewhat limp current side with his natural tough-tackling play.
How Twitter reacted to Swansea City signing Bayern Munich’s Renato Sanches on loan
Swansea City have confirmed the arrival of Renato Sanches on a loan deal from Bayern Munich. Sky Sports report that the Swans will pay a loan fee in excess of £2 million to take the midfielder to the Liberty Stadium for a year. This is a remarkable deal by the club and underlines the contacts that manager Paul Clement has in the game.
The Swansea manager will have worked with the 20-year-old for a short period last season at the Allianz Arena before he took the job in the Premier League. He worked at Bayern Munich as the assistant to Carlo Ancelotti and the Italian has now done his close friend a favour by letting him have one of the most exciting young midfielders on loan for a season.
Bayern Munich want the midfielder to gain regular first-team football as he has now reached a key stage in his development. It was a frustrating first season in the Bundesliga for Sanches and he now gets the opportunity to test himself in another league. The Premier League will suit his physicality and energy in the middle of the park. It won’t have been in his plans to go on loan to a club like Swansea, but he will relish the opportunity to play regularly.
It is thought that Sanches was keen to move to Swansea over other clubs, due to his existing relationship with Clement. He joined Bayern Munich last summer for a fee of £28 million and that shows the standing he has in the European game. It is a huge coup for Swansea and one that will excite the supporters.
Last summer, Sanches was named the Young Player of the Tournament at Euro 2016 as he helped Portugal to win the competition. He showed a maturity beyond his years and established himself as one of the best young midfielders in the game. The last year hasn’t gone as well as he would have hoped, but he now has the opportunity to further his development in England.
Here is how Twitter reacted to the news:
— Swansea City AFC (@SwansOfficial) August 31, 2017
Reports that Renato Sanches to Swansea on loan is a done deal.
It's not what you know, it's who you know. pic.twitter.com/GtXA7gBEUg
— Coral (@Coral) August 30, 2017
Renato Sanches is on the verge of completing a loan move to Swansea! pic.twitter.com/e0LHKJXPmf
— Footy Accumulators (@FootyAccums) August 30, 2017
When you hear Renato Sanches is close to joining Swansea on loan… pic.twitter.com/5R3bQrYyjI
— Soccer AM (@SoccerAM) August 30, 2017
Swansea fans were understandably excited by the signing:
Now it's official I can start to celebrate Sanches signing! What a coup! Insane signing, great work by the club! Can't wait to see him play.
— Guto Llewelyn (@GutoLlewelyn) August 31, 2017
Renato Sanches signing for Swansea. https://t.co/so76vFNB32
— Bobby (@BobbyGardiner) August 31, 2017
Paul Clement at the announcement if we do sign Renato Sanches pic.twitter.com/wn0Mf11syj
— Jack Evans (@Jevski7) August 30, 2017
Supporters of other clubs were jealous of the signing:
For once I'm jealous of other clubs transfers, Jese and Renato Sanches in particular #SaintsFC
— Nat Harvey (@Nat_sfc_harvey) August 31, 2017
Paying €8.5m for a one year loan is insane but I'm still very jealous of Swansea if they get Renato Sanches
— Reubdolph Pinder?? (@MarcoReubs) August 31, 2017
God I wish West Ham were going for Renato Sanches, especially if no Carvalho deal!
— Sam Hunt ? (@SHunt_92) August 30, 2017
— Moz (@Pardiola_) August 30, 2017
Chelsea look to Bayern Munich for latest wing-back target – Is a move likely?
As Chelsea prepare for a potentially busy deadline day, German newspaper Bild suggest that one potential arrival could be Bayern Munich full-back Rafinha.
What would Rafinha bring to Stamford Bridge?
One thing that the 31-year-old can offer in abundance is experience. As a winner of the Bundesliga and Champions League with Bayern Munich, he could help the more inexperienced members of Chelsea’s squad as they return to Europe’s elite competition this season.
He also offers versatility. It is most likely that Rafinha will take up a wing-back role if he does move to Stamford Bridge, but Antonio Conte will be keen on the fact that he can play on either flank. He can also play as a central defender if required, and that could encourage Chelsea to make a move for him.
The Brazilian also shares a number of attributes with both Marcos Alonso and Victor Moses. In particular, his impressive range of passing and crossing will appeal and he is a clear threat when bombing down the flank on the attack.
Is a move likely?
Bayern are hugely reluctant to sell their man as Carlo Ancelotti feels that he is a reliable second choice right-back. With Philip Lahm having retired, he has also picked up the reigns as the experienced veteran in the Bayern defence, which carries huge importance on and off the field.
However, it’s not yet clear if the Brazilian is content with such a role. Having played just 23 minutes so far this season, he may be keen to move abroad and have a go at the Premier League as, at his age, it could be his last opportunity to do so.
Chelsea could well pursue a move for him. It’s clear that wing-back is one of their top priorities this summer as they look to add cover and competition for Marcos Alonso and Victor Moses. With only 10 months left on his contract at the Allianz Arena, they could be in a strong negotiating position.
Are Manchester United finding form at the perfect time?
Derby defeat to Cheltenham highlights wider issues for Swindon Town
Sevilla triumph will have Everton fans regretting Steven N’Zonzi failure
Brendan Rodgers should finally get Kyriakos Papadopoulos this summer
Amadou Haidara released by Leeds United, bringing an end to bizarre transfer chapter
Tottenham Hotspur2 weeks ago
Tottenham Hotspur must push Toby Alderweireld toward Barcelona
Liverpool2 weeks ago
Jurgen Klopp’s brave January decision is playing off thanks to Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
Brentford3 weeks ago
Romaine Sawyers – Blossoming in the Championship with play-off contenders Brentford
Liverpool4 weeks ago
Roberto Firmino: His performances will shape the end to Liverpool’s season
Liverpool3 weeks ago
Mohamed Salah: Is Liverpool’s Egyptian star the best player in the world right now?
Chelsea4 weeks ago
Chelsea 4-0 Hull City – Willian plays himself into Champions League contention
Liverpool2 weeks ago
Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold finds himself at the centre of Jurgen Klopp’s plans
English Premier League2 weeks ago
Liverpool 2-0 Newcastle United: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain growing into role under Jurgen Klopp