As the anticipation builds ahead of the new 2019/20 Bundesliga season, attention turns to the prospects of the 18 top flight German sides and what the coming campaign has in store. Here at the Bundesliga Fanatic we preview the new season by asking five questions of the major protagonists. Next up Borussia Dortmund.
1. Is Mats Hummels the missing piece of the jigsaw?
Deciding to bring back Mats Hummels to the Signal Iduna Park was an audacious, but potentially genius move on Dortmund’s behalf. The centre back was not exactly the fans’ favourite after he decamped to Munich back in 2016, but from a purely footballing standpoint, it looks to be the best piece of business done by any club this summer.
Dortmund went within a whisker of usurping Bayern as the top team in Germany last season, but missed out by a fraction. Defensively in key parts of the campaign, they weren’t totally secure and the signing of (as Michael Zorc claims) ‘the best centre back in Germany’ will go a long way to rectify that.
Hummels brings a wealth of experience, the ability to bring the ball out from the back, a will to win and a goal threat. It is hard to see how the likes of Manuel Akanji, Achraf Hakimi, and Dan-Axel Zagadou won’t benefit from Hummels’ arrival.
If he proves to be the missing piece that does lead to the Bundesliga crown, then he’ll be fully forgiven by those BVB fans still sour over his prior defection to Bavaria.
2. Have BVB spent €100+ million wisely?
It cannot be argued that Dortmund have sat back on their laurels and lamented their failure to secure last seasons title. Instead, the club’s management opened the cheque book to strengthen the squad further to close the gap on rivals Bayern Munich. Over €100 million has gone on incoming players, but have the Schwarzgelben spent wisely?
In a word….absolutely. Especially when you factor in the €96 million brought in from the sales of Christian Pulisic and Abdou Diallo.
As mentioned above, in Mats Hummels they have signed of one Germany’s best central defenders and in Nico Schulz they have signed arguably the best left back in the league. The 26-year-old played himself into the German national team and has cemented his place as Joachim Löw’s first-choice.
If BVB’s attacking arsenal wasn’t already formidable with the likes of Marco Reus, Jadon Sancho, Mahmoud Dahoud, Mario Götze and Jacob Bruun-Larsen, the signings of both Thorgan Hazard and Julian Brandt take it to another level again.
3. Does Lucien Favre have what it takes to deliver the Meisterschale?
Jürgen Klopp (Dortmund’s last title winning coach) and Lucien Favre (hopefully their next) couldn’t be more different. The effervescent Klopp was always gesticulating and getting irate on the touch line, while showing his outgoing and witty personality off it. Favre on the other hand is much, much, much more composed and calm. Both character traits have their merits, but the manner in which BVB let slip a nine point lead over Bayern, has led some to question the Swiss trainer.
Dortmund rewarded the 61-year-old with an extension to his contract until 2021 with Hans-Joachim Watzke saying that he had ‘100% met his season targets’. This season however the target has to be the Bundesliga title.
There was a great line in Kicker’s new Sonderheft, which asked if Favre was a ‘Zauberer’ or ‘Zauderer?’ which can be best translated as ‘Magician or Ditherer?’. He has built a great reputation over the years at clubs like Hertha Berlin, Mönchengladbach and Nice, but his only success in league titles came two years running in Switzerland with FC Zürich.
Dortmund however are a much bigger club and Favre is now under increased pressure to deliver after the near-miss of last season.
4. What will become of Julian Weigl?
Once seen as one of Dortmund’s most valuable jewels and a key player, 23-year-old Weigl seems to have two options- leave or settle for a role as a second-string in Lucien Favre’s squad.
Last season saw him limited to just 18 games and with Alex Witsel and Thomas Delaney firmly ensconced in the defensive midfield role, he was mainly utilised as a centre back filling in for the injured Akanji and/ or Diallo. His prospects look similar going into the new season. The impressive pre-season displays from youngster Tobias Raschl also means that Weigl has yet another rival to compete with.
Thomas Tüchel at PSG remains a fan and reports claim Dortmund have told an interested Arsenal that his price tag would be €30 million. A pivotal moment in the career of Julian Weigl awaits.
5. Can Julian Brandt make the step up to the next level?
It was a foregone conclusion that Julian Brandt was going to move on to ‘bigger and better’ things after his stellar rise at Bayer Leverkusen, and that next stage has brought him to Dortmund (for what looks a bargain €25 million).
The 23-year-old has all the attributes to make a huge success of his time at the Schwarzgelben. At Leverkusen last season he really blossomed after Peter Bosz employed him centrally as opposed to out wide. That would appear to be the plan at BVB with Hazard and Sancho on the left and right respectively.
Favre favoured a 4-2-3-1 last season, but moving to to single Number 6 (Witsel) would allow Brandt to play alongside Reus as a central attacking pair in a 4-1-4-1 formation.
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