After winning two consecutive Bundesliga titles, Borussia Dortmund lived under the shadow of Bayern Munich last season as Die Roten won the league, cup and Champions League, where they precisely beat the Signal Iduna Park outfit in a thrilling match that was decided in the final minutes.
To make matters worse, Dortmund lost wonder-kid Mario Götze, who signed for Bayern in the summer on a record transfer, and could also lose Robert Lewandowski, who’s keen to follow Götze’s steps into the Allianz Arena.
Even when Dortmund made solid signings as they tried to overcome Götze’s loss, most notably adding Henrik Mkhitaryan and Pierre Emerick Aubameyang, they don’t have the same strength they had last season, when they made an epic Champions League run that saw them reach the Final. Could they be good enough to repeat their performance this year?
Dortmund’s defensive line remains steady with Roman Weidenfeller as the goalkeeper and the same back four of Lucas Piczsek, Mats Hummels, Neven Subotic and Marcel Schmelzer.
The two fullbacks push forward constantly, and are solid on the defensive duties. Meanwhile, the two towering center backs have an excellent aerial game, but they suffer against faster players like Arjen Robben or Franck Ribéry.
One of Dortmund’s biggest strengths is the midfield zone, where they combine an excellent mix of youth, experience and quality highlighted by two Germany internationals, Marco Reus and Ilkay Gündogan. Both players display a good range on their passing, and while Reus is an attacking threat down the left flank, Gündogan acts as the holding midfielder in the center of the park.
Arguably the team’s best player is their lone striker, Lewandowski. The Polish gathered worldwide attention after netting four times against Real Madrid last season, and he’s considered one of the most dangerous forwards in the planet. A big part of the team’s chances to repeat their European quest lay on his shoulders.
The team also had depth to face any potential long-term injury, with solid players all over the field. Kevin Grosskreutz, Sven Bender and Aubameyang, to name a few, could easily start on most teams around the world, but have been relegated to the bench so far.
Dortmund faces Arsenal, Napoli and Marseille, and currently have three points after two matches. They will battle the English and Italian sides for the top position in the Group F, and have enough experience to make another into the later stages of the tournament.
However, reaching the Final seems like a stretch, as several sides have improved vastly this summer. Napoli, Manchester City, Arsenal, Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid, just to name a few, could pose a threat to Dortmund’s aspirations to fight for another Champions League after adding quality players to their squads.
Jurgen Klöpp’s men will have to be at their best this campaign if they want to reach a second straight Champions League Final.