Why Borussia Dortmund Will Be This Season’s Bundesliga Champions
Over the last few years, Dortmund has always come close to winning the title but every year, they disappointed. At times due to injuries, other times due to defensive issues and lack of debt in the squad. They were far away from the Dortmund that many expected to be Bayern’s biggest challenger for the title. I believe that this year will be different. The recent moves made by the team show that they’re moving in the right direction.
The hire of Lucien Favre showed a real desire to change the philosophy in the squad. I became a fan of his style of play during his time in OGC Nice (French Ligue 1). His ball possession system led Nice to having its best season in nearly 40 years. Taking over Dortmund after a disastrous season is definitely a challenge. So far, I believe that he has proven that he is the right man for the job.
Last season, Roman Burki received a lot of criticism and many expected him to be replaced at the start of the season. Things seem to have turned around for him. Perhaps the arrival of Marwin Hitz motivated him, even more, to compete for the starting position. Nevertheless, he looks like a different player and his man of the match performance against a dominant Hoffenheim on Matchday 4.
(4 saves 1-1 draw) definitely proves that. With Burki full of confidence and Hitz as a backup, Dortmund has solid choices in goal.
With the departure of Sokratis Papastathopoulos at the heart of the defense, I was curious as to who was gonna step up and take the leadership role. It looks like Manuel Akanji has taken over. The Swiss defender established himself as one of the most important players in the side. He has played every game of the season so far and has played a crucial role in helping the Black and Yellows rise to the top of the Bundesliga table. Along with Abdou Diallo, who arrived this summer, they’ve formed a centreback partnership that has impressed early this season. Their solidity and ability to play out of the back makes them perfect for Lucien Favre’s system. They also have lots of depth at the position with veteran Omer Toprak and young promising defender Dan-Axel Zagadou. The same can be said about the fullback where Raphael Guerreiro, Jeremy Toljan and Achraf Hakimi (on loan from Real Madrid) are backups for long time starters Lukasz Piszczek and Marcel Schmeltzer.
The midfield was definitely an area that needed improvement from last year. Granted, they were technical and skillful but they were lacking a lot in physicality. The arrival of Thomas Delaney and Axel Witsel definitely improves the aspect. Furthermore, after numerous injuries, Marco Reus is finally healthy! Under Favre, Reus has been moved to a central playmaking role and it seems to be working. He already has 4 goals and 3 assists in the Bundesliga this season, and he’s working towards being back to his best level. Lastly, just like in defense, Favre has many options to work with within the squad. With the like of Shinji Kagawa, Julian Weigl, Sebastian Rode, Mahmoud Dahoud, Mario Gotze (Welcome back Mario!) and many more, the midfield is definitely stronger than it was last year.
During the summer transfer window, I expected Dortmund to permanently sign Michy Batshuayi but unfortunately, things didn’t work out this way. However, the signing of Paco Alcacer, who I thought was a big gamble, is turning out to be a massive steal for Dortmund. He already has 6 goals this season without never starting. Imagine the damage he’ll do when he actually becomes a constant starter. Including Alcacer, Favre has many more options in the final third. Jadon Sancho, Christian Pulisic, Jacob Bruun Larsen, as well as, Marco Reus have all been in great form this season with 23 goals in the Bundesliga. Some people have described this attacking force as the best since the Jurgen Klopp era which I believe they will eventually surpass (If they stay together long enough).
With Lucien Favre’s offensive-minded style of play, a squad full of potential and a great amount of depth in almost every position, Borussia Dortmund can aspire to great things this season.