September 25, 2017

2016-17 Season Preview: Borussia Dortmund – Reinvented

Basics

Name: BV Borussia Dortmund 09 (Ballspielverein Borussia Dortmund 09)
Nicknames: die Schwarz-Gelben
Founded: 1909
Club colors: black and yellow
Primary rivals: FC Schalke 04
Fan friendship: (maybe sympathies would be better) Celtic Glasgow, Austria Salzburg, SSC Napoli

Signal Iduna Park (Westfalenstadion)

Capacity: 81,359
2015-16 attendance:  1,369 231 (80,543 per match)

Signal Iduna Park
The “temple of felicity” – Westfalenstadion

Trophies

Bundesliga Champion (8) – 1956, 1957, 1963, 1995, 1996, 2002, 2011, 2012
DFB Pokal Champion (3) – 1965, 1989, 2012
Supercup (5) – 1989, 1995, 1996, 2013, 2014
Champions League Champion (1) – 1997
Cup Winners Cup (1) – 1966
Intercontinental Cup (1) – 1997

2015-16 Finishes

Bundesliga: 2nd with 78 points (82 goals scored, 34 allowed, +48 GD)
DFB Pokal: Final (3-4 loss on penalties to FC Bayern München)
Number of Matches won by 2 or more goals: 20
Number of Matches won by 1 goal: 5
Number of Matches drawn: 7
Number of Matches lost by 1 goal: 6
Number of Matches lost by 2 or more goals: 2

02032015_AubameyangReus_batmanrobin_header
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Marco Reus as Batman and Robin!

Top 2015-16 Scorers

(Bundesliga, Europa League, DFB-Pokal, Supercup)

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang: 39 goals, 12 assists
Hendrikh Mkhitaryan: 23 goals, 32 assists
Marco Reus: 23 goals, 8 assists
Shinji Kagawa: 13 goals, 13 assists
Adrian Ramos: 10 goals 6 assists
Gonzalo Castro: 7 goals, 11 assists
Matthias Ginter: 4 goals, 10 assists

Summer Test Results

Record: 5-2-2
Goals Scored: 20
Goals Allowed: 9

SpVgg Erkenschwick – Borussia Dortmund 2:5
Wuppertaler SV – Borussia Dortmund 0:2
Borussia Dortmund – FC St. Pauli 3:2
TSV 1860 München – Borussia Dortmund 1:0
Manchester United – Borussia Dortmund 1:4
Borussia Dortmund – Manchester City 1:1
Borussia Dortmund – Sunderland 1:1
Borussia Dortmund – Athletic Bilbao 1:1
SV Sandhausen – Borussia Dortmund 0:3

Questions with an Expert:

Stefan Buczko of The Yellow Wall  can be found on Twitter  @Yellowwallpod

Keep an eye out for . . .

Ousmane Dembélé, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Mario Götze, Marco Reus, Emre Mor, Marc Bartra . . . You name it. The list of promising signings and established players poised for a magnificent season is long. Thomas Tuchel won’t have it easy to mold the vast amount of talented individuals into a well-oiled machine. However, in the end Dortmund might not have the stand-out player, but a very homogenous squad on a top level.

Terrace favorite . . .

With Jakub Blaszczykowski and Mats Hummels out the door – and Neven Subotic hardly being a part of the team – there are fewer BVB icons to rave about. However, Marco Reus and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will still receive a lot of love from the fans. And lest we forget, Marcel Schmelzer and Manni Bender.

Player that should be driven to another club . . .

Not only have Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Mats Hummels, and Ilkay Gündogan have left the club, but as mentioned before, Dortmund showed the door to Jakub Blaszczykowski, Neven Subotic, and Moritz Leitner. For the sake of Joo-ho Park, he should be driven to another club as he will hardly receive any playing time on the left-back position with Marcel Schmelzer and Raphael Guerreiro ahead of him. Then there is Adrian Ramos, whose technical ability still hasn’t fully convinced me.

Advice you’d give your manager . . .

Don’t forget to work on set-pieces. Borussia Dortmund are susceptible to conceding from a set-piece. Mr. Tuchel loves his Rondos, which is essential for his team’s possession play. Fair enough, but don’t neglect the basics.

Opposition player you despise . . .

Franck Ribery is in pole position for that spot. The Frenchman is a wonderful football player, but his vicious fouls on a regular basis leave little to like about the Bayern player. It’s especially unnerving to see him get away with so many red-card offenses.

What will opposing sides underestimate?

Borussia Dortmund is one of the most-heavily scrutinised teams in the league. Many coaches take Dortmund as a role model, and it’s hard to believe that any aspect of BVB’s game will be underestimated. However, they could underestimate the pace of Dortmund’s attack; it never looks as quick in the video-analysis tools as it is in reality.

What are fans overestimating?

Hard to say. Dortmund fans are not known for overboarding expectations. Yet, there are many question marks of how good this Dortmund side really is, and some might not foresee potential speed bumps, especially at the start of the season.

Tip you’d give foreign fans visiting Westfalenstadion for the first time

Before the match, go to the City Centre and look for stand called “Wurst-Willi”. It has the best Currywurst in town. Also, if you’re lucky enough to obtain a ticket for the Südtribüne, be prepared for beer showers and don’t forget to chime-in! The Westfalenstadion is also a landmark because of its atmosphere. Be a part of that, whether home or away fan.

Where will BVB finish? . . . 

In the top three. It could potentially go either way of Dortmund winning the Bundesliga as well as finishing third behind Bayern and Leverkusen. There is a lot of potential in this team and they should manage to qualify for the Champions League, but it’s too soon to say. For the sake of it, I’ll say second place.

What is your standout Borussia Dortmund memory from last season?

It is a shame really that from a season, which entailed the second-best Bundesliga points tally in club history, the painful loss against Liverpool in the Europa League quarterfinals sticks out the most. Losing 4-3 after being up 1-3 with 30 minutes to go is hard to stomach. But overall, I will fondly remember that the Black-and-Yellows played mesmerizing football in the 2015-16 campaign.

Evolution and Reinvention

The tumbled Mkhitaryan gets the "my captain is yelling at me" treatment.
The Past – Hummels shouting at Mkhitaryan

When last we saw them

Actually, it was a perfect season. It more or less felt like a white blanket with two ugly black stains on it.

But first, the positive. As I wrote in my first article for Bundesliga Fanatic one year ago, the summer of 2015 was strange. But Thomas Tuchel and Borussia Dortmund got used to each other without big problems. There were some side-effects, but from a sporting point of view, everything was more than fine. While Bundesliga was boring – Borussia Dortmund was too good for the others, but too poor for FC Bayern München – the Europa League had some Highlights.

Any excitement in Germany regarding the Bundesliga was more or less a creation in the minds of FC Bayern München, who desperately wanted a rival, some journalists, who tried to create excitement, and some fans who longed for a real fight. But Borussia Dortmund was never able to be dangerous. They had some bad moments in the Hinrunde – Hoffenheim, Darmstadt, Hamburg, Köln – whilst Bayern never really lost ground. In the Rückrunde there was a hint of hope for BVB before the home match against Bayern. There were different opinions about this key match. Some fans felt proud, because Borussia Dortmund was capable of competing on the same level with FC Bayern. Others (like me) thought that BVB missed a big chance. I would have rather lost 0:3 this day with the certainty that everything possible was done. In fact, after minute 60, Borussia Dortmund had no further action before Manuel Neuer’s goal. Some fans even said that “under Klopp we maybe would have lost, but at least we would have fought.”

Here is the second bad thing: Liverpool was a disaster.

Did Borussia Dortmund really have to lose to Liverpool and – with Jürgen Klopp – against its own recent past? It felt like the Schwarz-Gelben improved in every single detail during the season, but to refer to the famous song with “Will Grigg”, Liverpool was (more) on fire. Liverpool did beat Dortmund with a Vollgasveranstaltung! After the loss against Klopp and the “Reds,” the season felt over.

Personally, I had enough of the talk that, arithmetically, the Bundesliga still had something to give. For many fans, even the DFB Pokal final (also against FC Bayern München) felt like it was lost before it began. Don’t get me wrong. A few days before the final, the excitement grew, and the match was certainly more open than the home leg from the Bundesliga, but with the certain and possible transfers of Mats Hummels, Henrikh Mkhitaryan (by the way, I am glad not to write this name any more), and Ilkay Gündogan, there was one thing flying around like a vulture over my head: “Hey, Borussia Dortmund. I need a summer break!

Aspiration

Champion!

At least one trophy.

Many fans, in Dortmund and all around the world, have the opinion that they must win at least the Pokal. Of course, the duel with FC Bayern München is very important. You can easily say it like this: “Bayern must be beaten this year.” It doesn’t matter how, it doesn’t matter in which way. Beat them, guys!

Reality

 

Here comes my personal opinion, which seem to be nearer to realism. I would say it like this: “Champions League and Derbysieg”. The most-important thing is the loosening of this damned FC Bayern fixation. Dortmund should beat FCB when there is the chance, but never emulate them or cry after a loss like there is nothing more than Bayern in Bundesliga. It is a year of change, and the squad may need some time to grow together. That is why the reality consists of Champions League qualification, Champions League quarterfinals, at least the seminfinal in the DFB-Pokal, and Derbysieg!

If there is more that that, no problem.

The Boss

It feels like the first real year of Thomas Tuchel. Why? It is simple! It is the first Tuchel-built squad. The talented coach can show that he is able to build a real champion. Tuchel is not like Klopp, and the second year after saying goodbye to the legend could be tricky. The class of 2011 slowly sets out; Jakub “Kuba” Blasczcykowski is gone. Neven Subotic will be gone within a year. Mats Hummels chose not to stay.

It is normal that a new coach brings changes. It is also normal that old players are substituted. Nevertheless, the degradation of Subotic and Kuba left marks, and many fans blame Tuchel. He is a fantastic coach. He might be even better (or more flexible) than Klopp. The evolution is on the march. It is not his fault that after the Klopp years some fans have a heavy hungover.

Stop.

Time changes things. And even if Tuchel is not like Klopp, get over it! From a sporting point of view, he is the best coach for Borussia Dortmund. Yes, it is sad that Kuba and Subotic do not get a chance, but let me remind you that it was Klopp who said that Dede should leave the club 2011. The most-important thing this season for Tuchel is to silence the critics regarding the squad and the departures of Subotic and Kuba.

.The other thing that Tuchel should learn is not to be satisfied with a draw against FC Bayern München!

tuchel3

Philosophy

Thomas Tuchel finally has “his” team and will prove every week that he is one of the most-flexible coaches in the world. The so-called “football-nerd” sometimes changes tactics more than twice a match. Borussia Dortmund can act and react against almost every system. Nevertheless, they probably should concentrate on playing against a six-man defensive line. Champions League will feel like holiday, because teams will play with Dortmund. Much of the Bundesliga – except the top-clubs and Mainz – will face Dortmund with a defensive tactic.

Plan B 

Probably a substitution. Emre Mor, the Turkish Messi, implied that he is a fantastic player who can push through a deep defence. Secret sources even revealed that Leo Messi is watching youtube-videos of Emre Mor to emulate his tricks ;).

Notable Transfers

Out

  • Henrikh Mkhitaryan (Manchester United)
  • Mats Hummels (FC Bayern München)
  • Ilkay Gündogan (Manchester City)
  • Jakub Blaszczykowski (VfL Wolfsburg)
  • Moritz Leitner (Lazio Rom)

In:

  • André Schürrle (VfL Wolfsburg)
  • Mario Götze (FC Bayern München)
  • Ousmane Dembélé (Stade Rennes)
  • Raphael Guerreiro (FC Lorient)
  • Sebastian Rode (FC Bayern München)
  • Marc Bartra (FC Barcelona)
  • Emre Mor (Nordsjaelland)
  • Mikel Merino (CA Osasuna)
  • Dzenis Burnic (BVB II)
07062016_EmreMor_BVBSigning_header
Leo Messi secretly watches youtube-videos of Emre Mor!

Strengths

Flexibility, speed, the yellow wall, and talent. Borussia Dortmund has everything a real champion needs. The team will act more flexible. The bench will have a higher quality. The fight for positions will be harder. That can (must) be good. If not, there still is the “yellow wall” behind them.

Weaknesses

Talent is an ambivalent word. On the one hand, it could mean that players have potential to be good. On the other, it could mean that they cannot use it. Right now it is not sure that the new Thomas Tuchel BVB will work. The other weakness, which is not necessarily present in the new season but definitely was in the last, is the will to fight. How did Liverpool win? They fought. The transfer of Sebastian Rode is the one thing that could prevent this weakness. He is the axe in between a bunch of rapiers. There is no need for that weaknesses of Borussia Dortmund will break out, but it could.

Crucial Stretch in Schedule

On paper, the first weeks seem to be okay. The players have to face good teams, but those clubs – Mainz, Leipzig, Darmstadt, Wolfsburg and Freiburg – give room to develop. Of course, Wolfsburg is one of the best clubs in Germany, and Mainz and Leipzig shouldn’t be underestimated, but Dortmund is good enough to get off to a good start. The first Champions League match (with all due respect) must be won against Legia Warszawa.

18082016_BVB100EuroSummer_header
Mario Götze, André Schürrle and Raphael Guerreiro

Verdict

2nd to 4th place

Yes, you do read correctly. Believe me, I do want Dortmund to win the Meisterschaft. I do want them to beat Bayern. But you need to be realistic. It is a wonderful team with talented players, stars, and potential, but they need to work together. Thomas Tuchel is now chief and built Borussia Dortmund after his idea. That can work out brilliantly, no doubt, but there is a risk that (for example) Mario Götze needs three years to find his old weight and form, that Marc Bartra and Sebastian Rode will not get used to the pressure of the Bundesliga as players in first line-up, that Mor and Dembélé are just talents, and that some players will suffer from injuries. I am sure that Thomas Tuchel is the right coach, and even if the mood in the stands currently is not the best, Borussia Dortmund should be able to make a step into the future.

Check out the BvB gear at SoccerPro.com — our longtime friends have cheaper prices and free shipping in US on orders over $65, plus discount prices on last year’s kit.

The following two tabs change content below.

Dennis Liedschulte

Dennis works as a journalist and author of fictional novels in Germany. He is a regular visitor of the German Bundesliga. He worked for several newspapers and online magazines and reports directly from Germany for bundesligafanatic.com. Follow at @NummerSieben7

1 Comment

  1. You guys predicted BVB would finish 5th last year… sorry but you guys really underrate BVB. BVB will finish top 2 no question and especially wont drop to 4th.

Leave a Reply