Although they finished second in the Bundesliga last year, Borussia Dortmund were not satisfied. Given all the injuries they faced last year the second place finish was a great example of their depth and the coaching ability of Jürgen Klopp. They already have two players, Dong-Won Ji and Oliver Kirch, sidelined for weeks, but that won’t get in the way. The bad taste in their mouth from last season and another Super Cup victory over Bayern Munich will be fuel to compete for the title this year.
Dortmund started out by losing only one of their first 11 matches. Then the injuries came. Neven Subotic, Mats Hummels, Ilkay Gündogan, Sven Bender and others went on the shelf which predictably slowed BVB‘s hot start. At one point they were in fourth place before a good run at the end of the season moved them into second place. They also made it to the quarterfinals of the Champions League before losing to eventual winner Real Madrid.
They lost their leading scorer, Robert Lewandowski to Bayern. It is just more fuel on the fire for a rivalry that grows volatile. There has also been a lot of discussion about Marco Reus who will likely move along next summer. Bayern is target him, at least with their words, to rile Dortmund even further before the league season kicks off.
Hummels is the newly anointed captain for BVB. He had an extended break after winning the World Cup and continues to be a major name in transfer rumors. He is now joined by fellow World Cup player Matthias Ginter after his transfer to Dortmund. Ginter will likely battle Subotic and Sokratis Papastathopoulos for the other center back spot.
Erik Durm emerged last season as a top choice left back and will regain that role with Marcel Schmelzer still ailing from a groin injury. Kevin Groβkreutz and Lukasz Piszczek make up an impressive set of right backs. Add in keeper Roman Weidenfeller and this is a stout defense.
Even with Gündogan and Kirch missing the start of the season, the midfield is a great mix of speed, technical ability and flexibility. Bender will play the defensive role for the time being with Sebastian Kehl as reliable help at the position. Nuri Sahin was added in the summer to provide more flexibility. However, the breakout star in the midfield could be Milos Jojic. He scored four goals in 10 appearances last season after a January transfer. Klopp has deployed the Serbian in three different roles since coming to BVB.
Dortmund is very attack minded, so the remaining midfielders and some of the biggest stars of the team fall in this category. Henrikh Mkhitaryan is one of the fastest players in the Bundesliga. He has no problem running at defenses regardless of where he is deployed. He also carried around a Spiderman mask to celebrate a goal in the Super Cup. He said it was for his son.
Klopp’s options in attack are so heavy that he will utilize several formations to optimize the talent on the field. Jakub Blaszczykowski is on the comeback trail. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang added two goals in BVB’s recent DFB Pokal victory. Adrián Ramos and Ciro Immobile were both added in the offseason.
Of course, there is also Reus. He has recovered well from a May injury. He was involved in 30 of Dortmund’s 80 goals last year. He is another speedy player for Klopp that will go direct and challenge any back line. He is a star that will be playing for a new contract with many eyes around the world watching.
Dortmund’s only preseason set back was a 4-0 defeat to Liverpool. They came back to dominate in the Super Cup and then dismantled the Stuttgarter Kickers in the first round of the DFB Pokal. They will be a part of one of the most attractive matches in week one as a like-minded Leverkusen travel to Signal Iduna Park. That one could be a shootout.
The championship will once again come down to Dortmund and Bayern. Both are hit by some early season injuries, so the start of the season could define the Bundesliga this year. Dortmund will not have trouble scoring and should get most of their injured players back before December. All of this spells out a much more competitive Bundesliga than last year. Of course history may not be on their side. They beat Bayern in the Super Cup last year as well.
2014-15 Record: 23-5-6, 74 Points, Second Place