Jurgen Klopp's Borussia Dortmund side were a breath of fresh air for European football. They won successive Bundesliga titles from 2010 to 2012, got to a Champions League final a year later and won admirers all over Europe with their intense pressing and fast, counter attacking style. They boasted a squad full of world class players from Mario Gotze and Robert Lewandowski to the exceptional German spine of Marco Reus, Ikay Gundogan and Mats Hummels.
Despite reaching the Champions League final in 2013, eventually losing to their German rivals Bayern, the side had already began haemorrhaging key players. Nuri Sahin had already left for Real Madrid, Shinji Kagawa joined Manchester a year later and Dortmund fans could only watch on with frustration as they lost both Gotze and Lewandowski to Bayern in consecutive seasons.
It was expected that they would falter at some stage and go through a season of transition as new players arrived to replace their former stars. What followed, was a lot worse than anyone could have predicted. Last season, Borussia Dortmund started woefully and found themselves languishing at the bottom of the Bundesliga after 19 games, a staggering 30 points behind Bayern Munich.
Players who were key to their success of the last few years were either injured or suffering a loss of form, Marco Rues and Ikay Gundogan in particular, just couldn't seem to leave the treatment table. Relegation was starting to become a real possibility until Jurgen Klopp's men eventually strung together four consecutive wins in February, eventually finishing the season in 7th place and getting to the DFB-Pokal final against Wolfsburg.
But enough was enough for Jurgen Klopp. On 15th April 2015, he announced he would be leaving the club at the end of the season. Just a few days later, the club announced that ex-FSV Mainz boss Thomas Tuchel would be the person to replace Klopp. Could he bring back the glory days to Signal Iduna Park?
After watching the first two games of the new season, I'm pleased to report that Tuchel's men are performing exceptionally well. The Borussia Dortmund we know and love, is back.
They have won their first two Bundesliga games comfortably, scoring eight goals and not conceding a single goal. The back four have looked solid, even though there's been rotation. Hummels, Sokratis, Schmelzer, Ginter, Subotic and Piszczeck have all featured and have kept consecutive clean sheets. Their midfield have also been outstanding, Gundogan finally looks back to his very best, orchestrating play and driving the team forward.
Henrik Mkhitarayan has looked unplayable at times and has scored twice already, whilst Gonzalo Castro has fitted in seamlessly and Shinji Kagawa is showing the sort of form that made Manchester United fork out £12m in 2012. It would also be criminal not to mention 19-year-old Julian Weigl, arriving from 1860 Munich for just £1.75m, has started the first two games in defensive midfield and has really looked the part.
Going forward, Dortmund have enormous quality. Marco Reus is, once again, showing that he is truly world-class and would improve any team in world football. Meanwhile, speed demon Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has also started the season superbly well, both have scored two goals each in the first two games. The obvious question now is, can they sustain this form and really challenge Bayern Munich once again? For the sake of German football, I really hope so.
Do you think Dortmund can really challenge Bayern Munich this season?
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