Is Borussia Dortmund’s unblemished best ever start a danger to Bayern?
“Only Borussia Dortmund will be German champions!”, sang a sea of swirling yellow, as Thomas Tuchel’s team scored four after an early scare away to Hannover to stay sensationally top of the Bundesliga, crucially ahead of biggest title rivals Bayern Munich on goal difference.
To anyone who even kept half an eye on former coach Jurgen Klopp’s floundering Dortmund last campaign, this development comes as something of a surprise from a force that looked faded.
Tactician Tuchel was terrifically installed amid sadness at beloved boss Klopp’s decision to step down, after a serious slump in form which saw Borussia temporarily in the Bundesliga bottom three, and speculation over the departures of several high-profile players.
Yet, after a relatively uneventful summer, in which the only real transfer triumphs of note were to retain key cogs Mats Hummels, Ilkay Gundogan and Marco Reus, the Black and Yellows (15/2 with Coral to win the Europa League) have put pundits and doubters firmly in their place.
In fact, after several off-seasons following silverware success with Klopp were dogged by Bayern circling for their top players, this fresh start under Tuchel has seen baggage with the Bavarians placed to one side and dangerous Dortmund let off the leash.
The Westfalenstadion club have even gone as far as to better giants Bayern, with a best-ever Bundesliga start from any side, in which they have claimed a maximum 12 points from four fixtures, notching 15 goals and conceding just three to just pip their Allianz Arena foes to the post.
Tuchel has also overseen a club-record opening nine victories with a formidable 34 scored across all competitions, including a whopping 17 from four in Europa League qualifiers.
Those are some statistics and, though the honeymoon may not last, there appears to be a real conviction among the fanbase that Dortmund, 7/1 to clinch the Bundesliga title, can finally threaten Munich again.
“It’s a good motivation for us, when the fans sing that,” said Gabon goal machine Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who leads BVB in league scoring with five so far, of title potential chants.
Effective Aubameyang has been a slow-burning replacement for departed prolific Polish poacher Robert Lewandowski, who left to join Pep Guardiola’s boys, but has improved season upon season and now looks the real deal, leading dangerously from the front.
While retaining stalwarts schooled in the Dortmund way, smooth operator Tuchel has turned to youth to reinvigorate a side that so often lacked invention despite it’s star names last season.
Bargain summer buy Julian Wiegl, just 20, has been anchoring midfield exceptionally to allow fluid attacking counterparts Henrikh Mkhitaryan, on nine goals in eight games, Shinji Kagawa and Jonas Hofmann to wreak havoc.
Defender Matthias Ginter is another young-gun to have benefited from a new reign, finally thriving from full back with six assists so far, despite being a centre half by trade, while Manchester United-owned Adnan Januzaj is another added to bring extra flair.
While Bayern are always the elephant in the room of any excellent Dortmund run, it is encouraging for their fantastically vociferous support that team performances have been the standout star, with no one player the sole orchestrator of excellence.
Bigger immediate challenges await with Bayer Leverkusen the next potential road block in the Bundesliga, with an impending visit to Bayern in early October.
Yet, with Sven Bender on the bench, Turkish schemer Nuri Sahin still to return from the sidelines, and Lukasz Piszczek, Adrian Ramos and Reus also in and out of the team through injury, BVB’s results look even more remarkable, and send a stark warning across to Bavaria. The title may not be tied up so early this term.