Ending the 2011-12 season with their first ever double, Borussia Dortmund would be looking to defend their title when the season kicks off on 24 August. The summer hasn’t been the easiest for the fans as two of their big name attacking players- Lukas Barrios and Shinji Kagawa have left the club for foreign land, and a host of other names being constantly linked with moves away from the club. Players returning late from the European Championships and with not the best pre-season under their belts, Klopp would be hoping Dortmund start clicking sooner rather than later when competitive action begins. Despite this there is an air of optimism around the Westfalenstadion as they look forward to another successful campaign in Germany. European football seemed a bridge too far last season, but Klopp and his men would be hoping to make amends this time round by replicating domestic form at the continental stage. The purchase of Marco Reus is being seen as another bargain and would help the Yellow-Blacks fill the void left by their talisman Kagawa.
Having completed their transfer activity early in the summer, Dortmund seem content with their squad. With a host of young players on their roster and one of the most sought after managers in world football, can Dortmund continue their dominance in German football? The fitness of Goetze and Kehl would be key factors in whatever Dortmund wish to achieve over the course of the season. Scheiber and Bittencourt may not be the most proven players yet, but Klopp sees enough potential in both and would be looking to polish them into gems. Could winning the title 3 years straight, ask too much of Klopp? Will the priorities shift to Europe after failure in the Champions League last season? Is the young squad prepared for a long and tiring season? TheHardTackle answers the questions in this season preview.
SV Meppen 1-2 Dorttmund
Club Brugge 3-1 Dortmund
Rot Erfurd 0-4 Dortmund
Nuremberg 4-2 Dortmund
St. Gallen 1-2 Dortmund
Legia Warsaw 0-1 Dortmund
Preussen Munster 2-4 Dortmund
Hamburg 0-1 Dortmund (Liga Total Cup)
Dortmund 3-3 Bremen (Liga Total Cup)
Dortmund 1-2 Bayern Munich (DFL SuperCup)
Dortmund 3-0 FC Oberneuland (DFB Pokal Round 1)
Zlatan Alomerovic, Mitchell Langerak, Roman Weidenfeller
Roman Weidenfeller will be the #1 custodian again for the champions after renewing his contract last season. The German goalkeeper has made over 250 appearances for the Yellow-Blacks and would add to those caps this season. The backup goalkeeper is Langerak, a young 23 year old Australian who has been impressive in both training and pre-season. Signed for Dortmund in 2010, the 192 cm tall keeper stood between the sticks last season as Weidenfeller spent time on the treatment table. In the DFB Pokal final he came on for the injured Weidenfeller and made a couple of crucial saves to see out Bayern, in a 5-2 win. His maturity and experience from last season will be valuable if and when required to fill in.
The third of Klopp’s goalkeepers is Alomerovic, a 21 year old with a half German-half Serbian nationality. A young keeper with loads of potential, Alomerovic would majorly be seen as a reserve backup option. His contract runs down in 2013 and by the look of things a newer better contract is nowhere close. The player would like to leave as well in search of first team opportunities, though how much interest he will attract is another matter altogether.
Felipe Santana, Mats Hummels, Neven Subotic, Koray Gunter, Marc Hornschuh, Patrick Owomoyela, Chris Lowe, Marcel Schmelzer, Lukasz Piszczek
Dortmund’s attack has been praised in every possible discussion, thus taking the sight off their defensive depth, which is way too underrated. Mats Hummels and Neven Subotic are monsters at the heart of the Dortmund defence, though the lack of game time together showed against Bayern as Subotic was caught off guard on a couple of occasions and Bayern ran out 2-1 winners. The defensive system needs no drastic change but the Dortmund faithful would be hoping for a more cohesive display in the new season. Last season Santana showed he is ready to step in whenever required after some assured performances in Subotic’s absence. Another notable yet pleasantly surprising inclusion was that of Koray Gunter, part of the Germany U-17 squad for the FIFA World Cup. He seems to have a pretty big impression on Klopp who has exposed him to the first team very judiciously so far and has him in his first team plans for the upcoming season, as the 90 minutes against St. Gallen would testify. The full back positions are well covered with Piszczek and Schmelzer as the first choices and Hornschuh, Lowe and midfielder Kirch providing versatility and backup simultaneously, though the former would see his chances restricted to the DFB Pokal at best. The right side of defence will be covered up by Owomoyela, the tall right sided defender who can also slot in at defensive midfield. On the whole Dortmund seem to be pretty well stocked at the back.
Sven Bender, Leonardo Bittencourt, Jakub Blaszczykowski, Marco Reus, Mario Goetze, Kevin Grosskreutz, Sebastian Kehl, Ilkay Gundogan, Moritz Leitner, Ivan Perisic, Olivier Kirch, Marvin Bakalorz, Mustafa Amini
Jurgen Klopp plays a very expansive style of football with most attacks generating from the middle of the park with neat interchange of passes. Captain Sebastian Kehl has had his injury troubles going into the start of the season, and Mario Goetze has been cautiously brought back into the fold, with the medical staff taking ultra care. As for pre-season both Leitner and Amini have been deployed at the base of the midfield in the holding role, and to be fair to them, have justified their selection in the best way possible. Despite their impressive outings, surely Klopp will go for Kehl and one of Gundogan/Bender when he has a fully fit squad to pick from. The choice between Gundogan and Bender might not be the easiest, but the absence of Bender in the opening few fixtures might help Gundogan book his place. As for the replacement of Kehl, Leitner is expected to get the nod ahead of Amini.
In attacking midfield Perisic has made his intentions clear and would hope to push Grosskreutz down the pecking order and get more starts for himself. As it stands, Dortmund will start the season with Lewandowski, Kuba, Reus and Grosskreutz as their attacking four. Perisic will push Grosskreutz and once Goetze is back the manager might have one headache on his hands. Leonardo Bittencourt could be another of Klopp’s numerous transfer scoops, and how quickly he settles down will be down to the number of first team opportunities he gets over the course of the season. The likely formation on the opening day should see Reus start behind the striker, Grosskreutz on the left and Kuba on the right.
Marvin Duksch, Robert Lewandowski, Julian Schieber
Lucas Barrios may have left for greener pastures, but Klopp moved quickly to fill the void created by acquiring the services of Julian Schieber. The 23 year old striker saw his chances restricted at Stuttgart and would be hoping for more game time at Dortmund. Having already scored in the pre-season game against Erfurt, Schieber would be hoping he is firmly in the manager’s plans. As far as the starting lineup is concerned Lewandowski is undoubtedly the first name on the team sheet. He may not have been the most prolific striker in the league last season, but his involvement in the goals and attacking build up are a real asset for the team. Lewandowski was an integrl part of Poland’s EURO campaign and received an extended break over the summer, thus missing a few pre-season games. After joining the team he did score thrice in pre-season and would hope to take the form into the new season. Big clubs have been linked with the Polish striker but Dortmund refuted all approaches. Lewandowski has been mostly fit for the best part of the past two seasons, and if Dortmund are to repeat the wonders from the past seasons, they would hope for another injury-free season. With Schieber pushing for a starting place himself, Lewandowski would have added incentive to perform at the highest level.
Marvin Duksch is a Dortmund youth product and one of the very few players to have made the successful transition from Dortmund II to the first team. At just 18 years old, Duksch has a spark about him. Raw pace and good movement make him an interesting prospect. How much he will feature this season is another matter, as Klopp won’t be rash with his development and will slowly bring him to the fore under the shadow of the more experienced duo of Lewandowski and Schieber.
Dortmund face the challenge that every champion has to, at some stage or the other i.e. maintaining their success. Reaching the top is just half the job done, and Klopp would ensure no complacency or lack of focus settles in the squad as they aim to achieve the other half, staying at the top. Although they are defending 2 titles this time round, Europe will definitely be a priority for the Yellow-Blacks. Negotiating the group stages won’t be easy considering they might across some of the bigger and perennial European clubs. As far as domestic competition is concerned, a repeat of last year doesn’t look beyond them. A crucial season awaits the Dortmund club.
DFB Pokal – Runners-up
Champions League – Quarter Finals