The Dortmund fixture list was officially revealed earlier this week and the excitement for the upcoming season is palpable. That is, until you actually take a look at the schedule.
In what will undoubtedly be a crowded fixture list given Dortmund’s participation in both the DFB-Pokal and the UEFA Champions League, the Bundesliga schedule seems to pose a bigger challenge down the road.
With locations for all 34 games released, BVB will only play consecutive road matches once while getting the benefit of consecutive home matches twice (though one of those is separated by the holiday break).
In the first half of the season, Dortmund will hit the road nine times in 17 matches, including trips to both newly re-promoted sides VfB Stuttgart and Hannover. BVB will be looking to make-up for its 5-6-6 away record last season, and will need to show its toughness early.
Against seven of their nine away opponents last season, Dortmund went 3-2-2 with losses to Frankfurt and Leverkusen. All three victories were lopsided wins for Dortmund.
Of Dortmund’s home opponents in the first half, three of them Bayern Munich, Hoffenheim, and RB Leipzig) were the only Bundesliga teams to have winning-records on the road last year. All eight, meanwhile, finished in the top ten last season and all look to continue improving during the offseason.
In the second half, roles get reversed and Dortmund’s travel schedule looks disastrous. It’s not for distance but toughness of opponent that makes the latter portion of the schedule challenging. Against those same eight opponents they host in the first half, Dortmund was 2-3-3 on the road against those teams last year.
The two wins, at Monchengladbach and Bremen, were less than convincing as well. Both games were decided by one goal margins. Dortmund benefited from a red card to Bremen goalie Jarolslav Drobny and grabbed a second-half goal. Against Gladbach, a goal right at the death gave Dortmund a lucky and fortunate three points.
While the road schedule in the second looks to be absolutely treacherous, the home slate seems to be breeze. Dortmund went unbeaten at home last season. Against seven of the nine second-half opponents they saw at the Wesfalenstadion last season, Dortmund won six and drew one, outscoring their foes 21-6.
If Dortmund are truly better than last year, nine home wins from nine in the second half seem extremely likely. But out of eight road games in the second half, a similar 2-3-3 record could be very likely.
Dortmund’s most important juncture of the first half comes during the stretch from matchdays 9-12. Dortmund is on the road for three of those four matches with the loan home fixture coming against Bayern Munich. 12 points in this stretch is dream land material, but it seems as if Dortmund’s home leg against Bayern will be a must-win for title contention. BVB would also likely need to win at least get five points from those three road games.
In the second half, the final three matches could decide the Bundesliga if it remains a close race throughout the season. Pending injuries or any outlandish transfers, Dortmund would desire a full-squad for the final three league games as BVB hopes to still be participating in three competitions. With two of those three on the road at Bremen and Hoffenheim, those two teams could very well have taken a free-fall by seasons end and would simply be playing for pride. The home game may pit a title-driven Dortmund against a relegation-threatened Mainz in what could be an epic, must-win battle for both sides.
MOST IMPORTANT MATCH
Every match is equally important, but in terms of jockeying for title position, Dortmund’s most important match will easily be their road leg against Bayern Munich. After the two teams meet there will be six games remaining and this final encounter might very well help decide the title.
PROJECTED FINISH - Top 3
Like last year, you can expect Dortmund’s home form to be nearly flawless and likely without the blemish of a loss. On the road, the first half of the season is set up for Dortmund to rattle off some momentum-swinging away wins while the second half will be a test for Dortmund. Bottom line: if Dortmund want to vie for the title, the club will need to be playing its best soccer in the second half and deliver some victories away from home.
TIME TO COMMENT!
1. What’s your most important match of the year?
2. Which match(es) are you most looking forward to?
3. Where do you (honestly) predict Dortmund finishing in the Bundesliga this year?