This summer has been one of immense change for Borussia Dortmund. Last season BvB were runners up to champions Bayern Munich for the league title and were in the DFB Pokal finals, were once again they were bested by the Bavarians. A good run in the Europa League ended when new coach Thomas Tuchel took on former BvB headman Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool, but nevertheless it was a very positive season for the Ruhr Valley club.
The summer has been arduous, though. Central defender and captain Mats Hummels was lured to Bayern, while star midfielder İlkay Gündoğan signed with Manchester City and just this week, Henrikh Mkhitaryan left for Manchester United. The trio represents a wealth of talent that any club would have difficulty replacing successfully, and all were key contributors to Dortmund’s success.
But the club’s Michael Zorc and Tuchel have brought in a quintet of young newcomers who should make the losses a bit less painful. Marc Bartra, Emre Mor, Raphael Guerreiro, Mikel Merino and Ousmane Dembele have come to Dortmund with boatloads of potential, and Dembele is already showing off his stuff with many BvB players not yet at camp due to international commitments this summer.
Dembele, 19, signed a five-year contract with Dortmund after playing for Stade Rennes, and he had a dream debut in BvB kit. On Friday he scored Dortmund’s first goal of the new season, albeit against lower-division SpVgg Erkenschwick in BvB’s opening preseason friendly. The whippet-thin Dembele, who scored 12 goals in 26 Ligue One matches for Rennes last season, teamed up with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to display great pace and threat while scoring only three minutes into the match. Dembele’s goal was coolly taken, sliding just underneath the left hand of the Erkenschwick keeper. Dortmund won 5-2, with youngster Felix Passlack also scoring, and former SC Freiburg and Bayern man Sebastian Rode making his debut with the yellow-blacks. Gonzalo Castro, who had two assists, and Christoph Zimmerman were also among the BvB goalscorers Friday.
Dembele also earned plaudits Saturday as BvB played Wuppertaler SV. He was constantly threatening and was involved in the buildup to Dortmund’s first goal, scored by Adrian Ramos. The teenager obviously gained confidence with his success in his debut season in Ligue One, and coupled with his talent and speed, will have many BvB supporters anticipating what he can do in Tuchel’s lineup. A second Dortmund goal was scored by Amos Pieper late as Tuchel fielded a side in the second half that averaged barely 19 years of age.
So while three major players have departed Dortmund and many are still yet to arrive, BvB fans still have much to be happy with early on, with young Mr. Dembele looking like the real deal.
BvB v SpVgg Erkenschwick
BVB 1. half: Weidenfeller – Ginter, Sokratis, Burnic – Leitner, Rode – Bruun Larsen, Dembele, Mangala, Baxmann – Aubameyang.
BVB 2. half: Bonmann – Dieckmann, Bender, Zimmermann – Castro, Karazor – Passlack, Hober, Eberwein, Schmelzer – Ramos
BvB v Wuppertal
BVB 1. half: Weidenfeller – Ginter, Sokratis, Bender – Castro, Leitner – Passlack, Aubameyang, Dembele, Schmelzer – Ramos
BVB 2. half: Bonmann – Larsen, Zimmermann, Pieper, Scuderi – Burnic – Mangala, Hober – Baxmann, Ebwerwein, Passlack
Header photo from official Borussia Dortmund site