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Borussia Dortmund

Panic over for Borussia Dortmund



Nothing in football can match the feeling of a comprehensive victory over your arch rivals. In Germany, the “mother of all derbys” is the Revierderby, contested between Borussia Dortmund and fellow Ruhr outfit FC Schalke. This fixture takes precedence for the weekend, and has fans of the Black and Yellows and the Royal Blues, as well as neutrals, drooling days beforehand. The most recent Revierderby culminated in a resounding, and deserved, 3-0 success for Dortmund, making a mockery of respective league position. This has prompted many of the Gelbe Wand (Dortmund’s die-hard fans in the “yellow wall”) to believe that Jürgen Klopp’s men have weathered the storm of their appalling league form this season. This derby win was Borussia’s fourth consecutively in the Bundesliga, which actually matches the number of victories notched in the entire first half of the season in the competition. The thirteen goals scored in these four games surpass the twelve scored in the previous sixteen. Therefore, those in Germany’s eighth largest city can be forgiven for thinking that a corner has been turned.

Was there real cause for concern in the first place?

Unquestionably, a club of this stature should not be in the Bundesliga doldrums. Losing five in a row from September to November, and dropping a two goal lead at newly promoted Paderborn, stand out as particular low points. Matters came closest to breaking point following a 0-1 reverse at home to ten-man Augsburg in early February. This triggered irate fans to berate the side to such a degree that Roman Weidenfeller and Mats Hummels had to scale the pitch-side fence to reconcile the supporters. This match also marked a turning point, as the Black and Yellows won their next four games – including the aforementioned Revierderby. It should also be noted that Dortmund were pitted against top of the table Bayern Munich during the barren spell, as well as tough games against Schalke and Wolfsburg (who snatched a late equaliser courtesy of Naldo). Given the standard of some of the opposition, and the relatively short space of time before normality seemed to be restored, perhaps the alarm bells were raised too early.

However, these poor domestic performances did not transcend national borders; Borussia’s Champions League form has been more than commendable. An aggregate victory of 8-1 over Galatasaray and victories over Arsenal and Anderlecht helped Dortmund win Group D on goal difference, and qualify for the last sixteen with ease. A club in so-called “turmoil” won four games in the toughest club competition in the world. Again, perhaps the footballing world worried too soon for Dortmund.

Many point to the way in which BVB do business, as a reason for contemporary “decline”. Consistently selling your best players to your rival cannot be deemed sustainable in any way. Robert Lewandowski and Mario Götze have left the Westfalenstadion in recent years, not only harming Dortmund, but aiding Bayern Munich. The boomerang that is Shinji Kagawa left for Manchester United in 2012, returning two years later, but has failed to replicate his original form.

That said, the replacements for these players have undoubted skill and are starting to showcase their talent. Armenian Henrik Mkhitaryan is beginning to find his feet in the Bundesliga, whilst Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has ten goals so far – no mean feat in a team struggling for so long. In terms of retaining current stars, this summer is pivotal for Borussia. World Cup winners Marco Reus and Mats Hummels head a list of those expected to leave.  Marco Reus recently signed a contract extension to 2019, giving a glimmer of hope to the Dortmund fans. This may signal his intent to stay, or it may dictate that when he does leave, Die Borussen will receive a much higher transfer fee. Reus is reportedly a target for Arsenal and Real Madrid (amongst others), meaning the amount he will go for is likely to be astronomical.

With this invested wisely in the already proven academy system, and on a few big money players, Dortmund could still challenge at the top of the Bundesliga. If Reus is to stay, much hinges on his belief in the team’s recent resurgence. In terms of any potentially “better” offers he receives, only Reus can judge if the grass is greener elsewhere. Sadly, though, the allure of the Ruhr seems to be waning.

In recent history Dortmund have won back to back Bundesliga titles, in 2011 and 2012, and reached the Champions league final in 2013. When compared directly to these achievements it is natural that this season looks disappointing, and it is. Considering how just ten years ago the club was on the brink of bankruptcy, this year is far from calamitous. Then Dortmund survived due to generous loans from, amongst others, Bayern Munich. In comparison to those days, recent ill fortune is minor.

The 2014/15 Bundesliga will be one Jürgen Klopp hopes fades into distant memory, despite the current upturn in fortunes. Desires of continuing this recent rich vein of form into next year will be affected by the decisions of Reus and Hummels. However, with intelligent maneuvering in the transfer market, these two can be replaced – no player is bigger than the club. Adversity is in the DNA of Borussia Dortmund, and this season is just a minor bump in the autobahn.

History graduate and sports writer.

Borussia Dortmund

Three talking points as Tottenham secured top spot with a Champions League win over Borussia Dortmund



Tottenham Hotspur

Tottenham ensured that they progressed to the Champions League knock-out stages as Group H winners after coming from behind to see off Borussia Dortmund in Germany on Tuesday night.

Dortmund – who were reliant on Real Madrid dropping points at Cypriot minnows APOEL Nicosia in the evening’s other fixture to stand any chance of progressing to the last 16 – took the early advantage when Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang finished smartly from Andriy Yarmolenko’s clever flick.

Mauricio Pochettino’s side nearly crafted an equaliser before the break, only for both Christian Eriksen and Eric Dier to be denied in the space of a few minutes after superb work by ‘keeper Roman Burki.

But it didn’t take long for the visitors to draw level in the second-half, with Harry Kane afforded too much space on the edge of the box as he arrowed an effort into the corner with his first real chance.

Son Heung-min’s effort 15 minutes from time, a fine curling finish after tenacious work from Dele Alli, then sealed the turnaround and condemned the hosts to a shock early Champions League exit.

Tottenham bounce back after derby disappointment

After Saturday’s harrowing and disappointing defeat to old foes Arsenal, manager Mauricio Pochettino summed up Tuesday’s performance perfectly by labelling it as the ‘perfect reaction’.

It is hard to disagree with the Argentinian either, with his side displaying far more grit, determination and character at the Westfalenstadion to forget about their Premier League defeat and come from behind to beat a strong Borussia Dortmund outfit, securing their surprise status as Group H winners.

It seemed like they were suffering a North London derby hangover of sorts when Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang fired the hosts in front on the half-hour mark, but Spurs dug deep and showed that they are aiming to do more than just make up the numbers in the Champions League this campaign.

All of a sudden they burst into life after the break, with Harry Kane and Dele Alli – who were both anonymous at the Gunners – getting involved more and causing problems for a tiring home defence.

It was the former who levelled things up when Kane’s neat low drive found the back of the net, signalling his sixth Champions League goal in five appearances this season, whilst Alli was influential in assisting both goals, seeing off two Dortmund defenders before laying off to Son Heung-min for his winner.

It wasn’t a match that needed to be won, considering Tottenham had already secured their safe passage into the knock-out stages, but the manner of victory will no doubt send out a message across Europe.

Dortmund’s decline ends in Champions League exit

Yet, whilst Tottenham will be buoyant and nervously await the draw for the last 16 next month, Borussia Dortmund will be reflecting on where things went wrong after a dismal European outing this season.

Despite having a number of world-class individuals in their ranks – Aubameyang, Shinji Kagawa, the young Christian Pulisic, Mario Gotze and the injured Marco Reus are all part of the squad at the disposal of manager Peter Bosz – it’s been a stuttering season both in Europe and domestically too.

Their inability to beat Cypriot minnows APOEL Nicosia across two matches all-but put an end to any aspirations of knock-out football, and it seems that the Europa League will now be their next destination.

Add this to their woeful Bundesliga form of late, losing four of their last five matches and drawing the other one to leave them nine points adrift of the top of the table, and warning signs are now flashing.

It’s all a stark contrast to 2013, the year that the German side fell narrowly short in the Champions League final, and it’s clear for all to see that something is fundamentally not right just four years on.

The fact that Aubameyang – who was left out of the Dortmund squad for their Bundesliga defeat at Stuttgart last week after being sanctioned by Bosz – barely celebrated a sublime goal tells its own story of the club’s affairs, and it seems that the head coach could be walking on a very fine tightrope.

Pochettino’s conundrum after Aurier impresses

One thing that was clear from Pochettino’s team selection on Tuesday, other than the clear fact that he was looking for a quick response to the Arsenal defeat by selecting a strong side, was that summer signing Serge Aurier seems to be the preferred right-back option for the Champions League this season.

The £24 million man may have garnered a reputation for being a bit erratic but, contrary to some of his rash moments this season, he played with an element of maturity and care on Tuesday evening.

He certainly warranted his selection at Dortmund, always offering an outlet on the right-wing and constantly finding himself with a wealth of space to run into behind their captain Marcel Schmelzer.

Aurier’s delivery was generally accurate too, forcing the Dortmund defence into last-ditch blocks inside their own area with Kane lurking, whilst he kept things compact alongside Davinson Sanchez at the back.

It would no doubt have hurt the Ivorian to have been omitted from the side for the mightily impressive win over Real Madrid after playing in Tottenham’s opening three European matches, but on Tuesday’s showing he’s laid down a marker for rival Kieran Trippier ahead of the knock-out stages.

Considering the question marks hanging over the head of boss Pochettino about whether Kyle Walker could be replaced it’s certainly not a bad dilemma to have, and a bit of healthy competition between two viable wide options could prove key for Tottenham as the season goes on.

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Borussia Dortmund

Analysing Tottenham striker Harry Kane’s two-goal heroics against Borussia Dortmund

Rob Meech



Harry Kane

Much had been written about Harry Kane’s barren August, in which he failed to score. However, the drought is well and truly over now September has arrived. Since finding the net for England during the international break, the 24-year-old has rediscovered his scoring boots in spectacular fashion.

His brace against Borussia Dortmund in Tottenham Hotspur’s opening Champions League Group H clash was as impressive as it was timely, providing his side with the perfect start to their European adventure and banishing the Wembley Stadium hoodoo.

It’s no secret that Tottenham are heavily reliant on Kane (perhaps overly so) to be their chief attacking threat, but he rarely lets them down. Manager Mauricio Pochettino will be relieved that his star man is back to his best.

The England striker had a hand in all three of their goals against Dortmund, setting up Son Heung-min for the first before netting either side of half-time to ensure Spurs sent home their supporters happy.

Both goals underlined Kane’s natural ability as a finisher, which has earned him the Premier League’s Golden Boot trophy in the previous two seasons. His first was a carbon copy of Son’s, cutting in from the left and unleashing a rasping drive that beat Roman Burki at his near post.

Perhaps the Dortmund keeper’s positioning was questionable, but such was the power and pinpoint accuracy of Kane’s strike that it would have taken some stopping wherever he had been stationed.

Although Dortmund looked vulnerable at the back, their attacking prowess had caused Spurs problems all night and a 2-1 lead seemed precarious. So Kane’s second of the night was mightily important because it effectively killed off the game.

After being put through by Cristian Eriksen, Kane still had work to do to create enough space to get his shot away. Once again, the accuracy was such that it left Burki with little chance of preventing it from nestling in the back of the net.

Kane could have completed his hat-trick before he was substituted to a rapturous reception from the Wembley faithful, but the damage had been done. Everyone knows Kane likes to shoot from all areas of the pitch, but opponents seem powerless to stop him.

His two goals from four efforts – as well as an assist – represented an excellent night’s work for a man who has grown in stature to become one of the most prolific strikers in Europe. Kane will remain fundamental to Spurs’ hopes of honours this season, both domestically and in Europe.

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Borussia Dortmund

“The Wembley curse is over” – Three things learnt from Tottenham 3-1 Borussia Dortmund



Harry Kane

Tottenham may face a tough Champions League group including Real Madrid and APOEL alongside Borussia Dortmund, but they could not have gotten off to a better start than with a 3-1 home victory over the Germans.

Son Heung-Min raced clear in the opening minutes to give Mauricio Pochettino’s side the lead, but that lead was quickly pegged back after Andriy Yarmolenko looped an effort over Hugo Lloris and into the corner of the net.

That sparked Harry Kane to life, shrugging off two challenges before firing the ball into the back of the net for a third goal inside 15 minutes. After that the game calmed down as Kane’s second goal midway through the second half put the tie to bed.

A late sending off for Jan Vertonghen, who saw a second yellow for a flailing arm, marred things slightly but Spurs still got off to a dream start at Wembley on Wednesday night.

Here are three things that The Boot Room learnt from the game…

The Wembley curse is over

The tag of a Wembley curse has dogged Tottenham at the start of this season, not helped by defeat to Chelsea and a draw with Burnley, but there is no more emphatic way to put an end to such concerns than by wiping the floor with a difficult Champions League opponent.

Tottenham got off to a dream start through Son Heung-Min and even after conceding an equaliser they reacted well to rapidly re-take the lead. Such a win will give a huge confidence boost and Spurs fans will hope that it will remove any Wembley hoodoo too.

Dortmund continue to disappoint

Gone are the days when Borussia Dortmund were a force to be reckoned with in Europe under Jurgen Klopp, but their performances at Europe’s most elite level have been underwhelming for some time. At Wembley, they once again failed to deceive.

For all their possession and time on the ball in the Tottenham half, they failed to create many clear cut chances, with even their goal coming courtesy of an inspired strike from distance. Defensively they were poor too, with Tottenham scything the back four apart on the counter attack. Mauricio Pochettino will be confident of qualifying from a tough group on the back of that display.

Fernando Llorente offers an entirely different option

He may only have got a few minutes, but right from the off it was clear that the Spaniard’s introduction for Harry Kane would give Tottenham a different dimension in attack. Spurs immediately went for a more direct style with Llorente giving a real focal point in attack.

It’s likely that Llorente will have to wait until the Carabao Cup clash with Barnsley next week for his first start in Tottenham colours, but such aerial presence and power could come in handy against sides like his former team Swansea, who his new club face this weekend.

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