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No more second best? The revival of Borussia Dortmund

It has been six years since Borussia Dortmund won the Bundesliga. They have been Germany's second-best team behind Bayern

Last updated: 28.11.2018
The revival of Borussia Dortmund | Sports Social Blog

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It has been six years since Borussia Dortmund won the Bundesliga. They have been Germany's second best team behind Bayern for quite some time now.

Managerial changes and important players being sold haven’t helped their cause in recent years. They have managed to finish in the top-four in five of the last six seasons, finishing second thrice. But a club as big as Dortmund which averages 80,000 in attendance every season will not be satisfied with a top-four finish; the fans want titles.


Klopp was the last manager to win the league in 2012

With Bayern struggling in the Bundesliga lately, Dortmund sit at the top of the table after 12 games, four points ahead of second placed Mönchengladbach and nine points ahead of Bayern. Top of their group ahead of Atletico Madrid in the Champions League.

There are a number of factors why Dortmund are flying high this season:

Change in manager

Lucien Favre

It all began in the summer. Dortmund secured the services of top rated coach in Lucien Favre from Nice. The Swiss manager’s resumé also includes reviving Borussia Mönchengladbach, who were relegation bound before his appointment and were UCL yearly contenders by his resignation four and a half years later.

When a new coach takes over a club, the first tactical concept the coach will work on is the defensive shape. Gone are the days of Klopp’s high press. Under Favre, the defence looks more solid and effective. The team is more stable in the midfield and the attacking transition play has improved. The Black and Yellows have not completely abolished a high press, but use it in a far more nuanced fashion. They apply pressure to opponents only once the ball has crossed the halfway line. Results have been good so far and Favre may have found the right system.


Witsel and Delaney

As mentioned earlier, it all began in the summer. Dortmund needed to revamp the squad. Alongside the appointment of Favre, Dortmund signed Thomas Delaney, Axel Witsel, Paco Alcacer, Achraf Hakimi and Abdou Diallo, who have played a crucial role in Dortmund’s early success so far.

Witsel and Delaney playing in the midfield pivot has worked wonders so far. Witsel is good in controlling possession and slowing the play down while Delaney provides the necessary physicality and steel in the midfield, that goes hand in hand with Witsel's possession style play. Diallo and Hakimi have played well when called upon as Hakimi has struck a good understanding with Jadon Sancho on the right flank.

Dangerous wingers

Jadon Sancho

The stability in the midfield has allowed the wide players more time and space on the ball. When players like Sancho, Pulisic, Reus and Bruun Larsen are given time on the ball, Dortmund look dangerous. Sancho has been devastating so far with four goals and six assists in 12 games, he has been the perfect replacement for Ousmane Dembele, with the work ethic Dembele never had.

Marco Reus

And then there is the factor of club captain, Marco Reus. When fit and healthy, he is definitely one of the best players in the world. Reus has struggled for game time in the last two seasons. But he is looking lethal as he has got nine goals and four assists in all competitions this season, but he isn’t doing it alone.

Paco Alcacer

Dortmund were desperate for a clinical striker after the sale of Aubemeyang. And it looked like signing Alcacer from Barcelona on loan was an act of desperation. But Alcacer has proven to be one of the surprises of the season.

Alcacer rarely misses the target and his first time finish is nearly perfect. He has been so instrumental to their success so far that Dortmund have paid Barcelona around €25m for his services. In the form he is in right now, he may be an absolute bargain. 10 goals in nine games just shows the importance of the Spaniard. He scored the crucial third goal in Dortmund’s 3-2 over Bayern.

It isn’t easy to be a star player in Barcelona especially when you are playing second fiddle to one of the best strikers in the world in Luis Suarez. Alcacer was never given the time and freedom to unleash himself at Barca. But he seems to have found himself as one of the most lethal strikers in the Bundesliga, forming a devastating frontline with Reus and Sancho.

This may finally be the year where Dortmund end Bayern's six year reign of the Bundesliga and maybe start a reign of their own.

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