When Borussia Dortmund emerged as the Bundesliga champions in 2011, people called it a fluke. When they successfully retained the title the following year, many believed that a new force was in the making.
Despite having an average domestic campaign, Dortmund’s Champions League progress was a real eye-opener. Drawn alongside three top class clubs in the group stage, Real Madrid, Manchester City and Ajax, pundits might have tipped the odds against them.
Not only did they emerge as the group leaders, but they were also undefeated while they were at it. Their quick and unique style of football, encouraged by their manager Jurgen Klopp, proved to be too much for any opposition.
At this stage, they had nothing to lose. Then came Dortmund’s next victims, Shakhtar Donetsk. A draw in the first leg of the knockout stage and a comfortable victory in the return leg meant their journey wasn’t over yet.
Up next, Malaga. Their opponents for the quarter-finals. Malaga were underdogs from the very beginning.
Having said that, they carried the element of surprise alongside them. The first leg ended goalless and Dortmund had blown their chances to claim the away goal.
The second leg proved to be Dortmund’s biggest challenge in this season’s campaign. Two away goals down at the 90th minute mark, Marco Reus and Felipe Santana would go on to score two goals in three minutes to pull-off a miraculous comeback. Their confidence was at an all-time high.
For the semi-finals, Dortmund were drawn against Real Madrid. Surely that was it then, claimed the pundits. Much to their surprise, a magnificent performance by star striker Robert Lewandowski in the first leg put them at an unfathomable four goal advantage.
Although they would go on to lose the second leg by two goals, Dortmund would proceed on aggregate.
Borussia Dortmund were in the finals of the UEFA Champions League after 16 long years. Their return to prominence couldn’t have come at a much better time.
But in order to get their hands on the magnificent trophy, they had to go through arch-rivals Bayern Munich at Wembley. If losing two finals in the past three years wasn’t enough motivation for Bayern, they now faced a Dortmund side without the services of Mario Gotze.
A poor second half performance meant Bayern would go on to win the finals 2-1. But the important point is that Dortmund proved many experienced football pundits and legends wrong.
They exceeded all expectations and gave their fans not only something to cheer about, but hope as well.
Can Borussia Dortmund win the Champions League title next season? No one might have the answer to that. But for now, we wouldn’t put it beyond them.
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