Ten games, ten wins, a 100% record; it remains an incredible start to the season for Borussia Dortmund.
Park Jo Hoo’s stoppage time winner against Krasnador ensured Thomas Tuchel’s side remain unbeaten nearly two months after their first competitive fixture of the season.
Tuchel’s men have shown class, talent and a large amount of resolve – in their last three Europa League games alone, Dortmund have gone a goal behind before turning proceedings around.
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The poignancy of Dortmund under Tuchel so far is the qualities so abundantly on show are the same ones that deserted them last season.
In Bundesliga games at Signal Iduna Park alone, they failed to overturn a 1-0 deficit five times last season as they lacked confidence and flair in attack. This season promises more positive progress, and they lie top of the Bundesliga having scored 15 goals in four games.
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The positive effect of young talent
Better performances from Tuchel’s senior players has had a noticeable impact on Dortmund’s start and is directly responsible for a renewed attacking vigour.
İlkay Gundogan, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Marco Reus struggled for differing reasons under Jurgen Klopp last season but have rediscovered their form this time around.
But Tuchel’s eagerness to implement youth talent is also having a large effect on his team’s performances.
Julian Weigl’s exponential rise from the 2.Bundesliga has been well documented – Matthias Ginter’s equally impressive performances less so.
The German’s opportunity came after Łukasz Piszczek’s injury at right back – not Ginter’s preferred position – but the 21-year-old has excelled since his first start against newly promoted Ingolstadt.
After scoring the opening goal in that game, Ginter went on to provide assists in each of the next two before scoring the leveler against Krasnador, a towering header at the back post, and setting up Park’s winner with a pinpoint cross.
Ginter typically plays as a central midfielder but has taken well to a new role and has especially excelled going forward, with his crossing being an especially strong aspect.
Naturally, defensive aspects need improvement, with Krasnodar's winger getting the better of him for their goal on Thursday. Regardless, it has been a positive start, and his rising stock is indicative of Dortmund’s rise as a whole this year.
Crucial fixtures coming up
Optimism is higher now than it has been for some time at Dortmund, but their opening fixtures have been kind.
All victories over Europa League opponents have been expected, and their Bundesliga foes have been relatively meek.
Sterner tests of their credentials lie ahead and start this weekend with the visit of Bayer Leverkusen.
In this fixture last year, Leverkusen scored the then quickest goal in Bundesliga history through Karim Bellarabi before recording a humbling win that set Dortmund’s year off on a bad tone.
And Leverkusen are the first of a pivotal two-week stretch that includes a tricky trip to 1889 Hoffenheim before concluding with 'Der Klassiker' at the Allianz Arena.
Should they come through the next five games unscathed, Dortmund will be a genuine force in the Bundesliga title race.