How brilliant Borussia Dortmund business bodes well for Bundesliga and Champions League campaigns
Simon Sinclair | September 7, 2016
Borussia Dortmund were forced to watch Bayern Munich runaway with the Bundesliga title for the fourth season the spin.
Thomas Tuchel’s men competed well with their rivals, finishing second but 10 points off the pace, ensuring that Bayern couldn’t ease off the gas until the latter stages of last term.
Dortmund lost just four out of their 34 Bundesliga matches, with their worst result coming at the hands of the Allianz Arena outfit, losing 5-1 in the third month of the season.
The football knife was twisted in that defeat by the fact that three of the goals came from former players Robert Lewandowski and Mario Gotze. Both have enjoyed prominent roles in Bayern’s recent domestic dominance.
Exits continue at the Westfalenstadion
However, Tuchel would have pleased with his side’s season, considering they had placed in seventh the previous year. He would have also been buoyed by the news that Pep Guardiola was leaving the Bundesliga to join Manchester City, perhaps weakening their greatest rivals.
It would not prove to be the case as Carlo Ancelotti came in as the Spaniard’s successor, while Bayern swooped to snatch key defender Mats Hummels away from the Westfalenstadion.
Further blows were to be felt in the departure of midfield duo Ilkay Gundogan and Henrikh Mkhitaryan to Man City and Manchester United respectively, effectively ripping the spine out of Dortmund’s side.
This is reflected in Dortmund odds of 6/1 to win the Bundesliga, with Ancelotti’s men far and away the favourites to retain their crown yet again.
Even under Tuchel’s predecessor Jurgen Klopp, Dortmund have been no stranger to major losses, none more so than Lewandowski to Bayern two years ago as the Polish striker has helped the Bavaria-based team keep a stranglehold on the division.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang helped fill the void of his departure, supplied by the talent of Marco Reus and Mkhitaryan to keep Tuchel’s men in contention. Proven creativity and guile are robbed of Dortmund by Mkhitaryan moving and Reus’ ongoing injury problems.
Filling the gaps
Although the club were bitterly disappointed by the exits of their key trio over the summer, it did give BVB serious capital (over €110m) in the transfer market to strengthen their squad depth.
A large chunk of their budget was spent on securing the signature of Andre Schurrle from Wolfsburg, who at the age of 25 has his prime years ahead of him as well, having several years experience of playing Champions League and international football under his belt.
He put together a fine campaign for Dieter Hecking’s side last season, notching nine goals in 29 appearances. Schurrle’s presence should ease the pressure on Aubameyang in the scoring column, while providing a threat with his pace and physical presence in the final third.
Gotze ended his three-year stay with Bayern to return to the Westfalenstadion, and should pick up where he left off in an advanced role in the middle of the park.
Some pundits argue his career has stalled due to being played out of position, but with Dortmund he will soften the blow of Gundogan’s exit by replacing his former teammate.
The job of replacing Hummels at the back will be partly filled by Marc Bartra in an €8m deal from Barcelona. The Spaniard was a squad player behind Gerard Pique, Javier Mascherano and Jeremy Mathieu at the Nou Camp, which raises doubts whether he could replace a player of a similar calibre in the middle of the Dortmund defence.
Hummels was a star at the back in his seven years at BVB, and Bartra faces a huge challenge to raise the level of his game to ensure that the defence does not take a significant step back without the Germany international.
This lack of quality could hinder their chances in the Champions League, with Dortmund odds of 16/1 to win Europe’s elite club competition for the second time in their history.
BVB’s best business over the summer could well be the deals for youngsters Emre Mor, Ousmane Dembele and Raphael Guerreiro.
Dembele cost just €8m from Rennes as Dortmund defeated stiff competition from several teams across Europe to complete the move.
The 19-year-old has been touted as one of the brightest prospects in world football, possessing all the necessary pace and skill to be a star in the Bundesliga.
Dembele has already forced his way into the France squad, and will surely only improve under Tuchel’s tutelage at one of the best clubs at harnessing young talent.
Likewise for Emre Mor, as the diminutive Turkish winger made the move from Danish club Nordsjaelland.
Also 19, he was similarly linked with several sides around Europe, including Manchester City and Manchester United, but Dortmund pushed for his signature and Mor will have the chance to develop alongside Dembele and more season members of the BVB squad.
Mor has strong potential, but time will only tell whether he can live up to the hype surrounding his move to the Bundesliga.
Guerreiro was a key part of the Portugal squad that triumphed at Euro 2016, starring on the left side of Fernando Santos’ defence. He will provide instant competition for Dortmund captain Marcel Schmelzer down this flank, although he can be utilised in an advanced role.
The 22-year-old has a cultured left foot and eye for goal after scoring seven goals in a season for Lorient in the 2014/15 campaign. He will provide a threat from set-pieces to bolster his new side’s attacking options in the final third.
At €12m, Guerreiro appears to a steal in a market that has seen less established players go far heftier price tags.
If these young players prove to be a hit, then Dortmund will continue be a nuisance for Bayern in the years to come and may even see them overhaul their great rivals once again.
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Do Dortmund look like a better bet for the Bundesliga this season? Will you be taking them from among Champions League tips? Lets us know in the comments below!