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2018-2019 Bundesliga Preview: Borussia Dortmund

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This team seems familiar...

Borussia Dortmund v Benfica - International Champions Cup 2018 Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images

Dortmund football is finally returning. With the summer and the World Cup finally behind us, and the first round of the Pokal conquered, it’s time for our Bundesliga campaign to start. This year Zorc and Watzke brought in some help with Matthias Sammer and Sebastian Kehl both joining as advisers for the club. With these two club legends in the front office, and new manager Lucien Farve at the helm, spirits are high going into this year at the Westfalenstadion.

Last Season

Bundesliga:4th Place 55 Points (15 W-10D-9L) Tiebreaker with Leverkusen broken by GD+3

DFB Cup: Round of 16, Lost 2-1 to Bayern Munich

Europe: Eliminated from UCL Group Stage, Eliminated from Round of 16 by RB Salzburg 2-1

To put things kindly, last season was a shitshow. Peter Bosz started the season as manager after Pokal winning Tomas Tuchel was sacked. The season started great for Dortmund, as they won their first give Bundesliga games. After that it was disappointment after disappointment.

Disinterested players and a clueless coach let to an exit from the UCL group stage. Bosz was sacked before the Hinrunde was over and Peter Stoger took over. Stoger had just went win-less with FC Koln, so the decision to hire him was always an odd one. He did not do too much better then Bosz. His style of football was boring and he often dropped easy points. In the end we did manage to get top 4, but only at the buzzer as we just passed Leverkusen on goal difference.

Transfers

Transfers in:

  • Abdou Diallo (CB)- Mainz 05- 25.2€ Million
  • Thomas Delaney (CM)- Werder Bremen- 18€ Million
  • Axel Witsel (CM)- Quanjian- 18€ Million
  • Marius Wolf (RM)- Eintracht Frankfurt- 4.5€ Million
  • Marwin Hitz (GK)- FC Augsburg- Free
  • Eric Oleshlagel (GK)- Werder Bremen 2- Free
  • Achraf Hakimi (RB)- Real Madrid- Loan

Transfers out:

  • Andriy Yarmolenko (RW)- West Ham- 18€ Million
  • Sokratis (CB)- Arsenal- 14.4€ Million
  • Gonzalo Castro (CM)- VFB Stuttgart- 4.5€ Million
  • Andre Schurrle (FW)- Fulham- Loan
  • Felix Passlack (RB)- Norwich- Loan
  • Dominick Reimann (GK)- Holstien Kiel- Free
  • Erik Durm (FB)- Huddersfield- Free
  • Roman Weidnefeller- Retired
  • Michy Batshuayi- Chelsea- End of Loan

Overall, Dormtund did some great business this summer. We shed some dead weight in Castro, Yarmolenko and Schurrle while adding some great established players in Axel Witsel, Abdou Diallo and Thomas Delaney. Diallo and Witsel especially look primed to be stars in this squad.

However, there is one major issue with our summer business, Dortmund do not have a true first choice striker. At the moment Reus and Phillip are our two top choices. Reus at the forward position is a waste of his talents on the wing, putting them doesn’t maximize his strengths as a player. Phillip is fine as a forward, but as we saw in our game against Furth, it clearly does not suit him best. He really has no true identity at the forward spot at all unlike Michy or Aubameyang. With no true striker Dortmund may really struggle to beat sides that choose to sit back and defend this season. Also with three competitions things are complicated. Farve has said Isak is too young and inexperienced to play regularly, leaving us way to light at the position.

What To Expect 2018/19

A wild ride. Farve may really set everything right at BVB and we could really compete with our current squad. Or missing important pieces to the roster could blow everything up.

Our current best CB pairing of Akanji and Diallo is the best we’ve had since the Hummels-Subotic. Both players are quick enough to track back and technical enough to make non-foul tackles to stop opposing attacks. In addition Akanji is great at passing from the back and Diallo can trek further up the field and be comfortable when the need arises. Our fullbacks this year, on the other hand, do leave us wanting for something better. Piszczek and Schmelzer both have not looked themselves for over a year and it showed in our first match against Furth. Marcel especially was getting burnt time and time again by 2.Bundesliga opposition. Rapael Guerreiro is a great option at fullback and hopefully Farve gives him the starting spot. With Raphael, as with all of our fullbacks, the issue is also health. Tolijan, Piz, Schmel and Raph have all had injury stretches the past year. Things will not look pretty if we are forced to play Zagadou left back again. One saving grace could be Real Madrid loanee Achraf Hakimi, who has shown lots of promise as a FB. At GK, Burki is still a great option for the Bundesliga. In the past however, we have seen that he just totally chokes away cup games. Hitz may see playing time in the UCl for that reason, especially since he played in Europe before with Augsburg.

One area Dortmund doesn’t have to work about is their midfield. Weigl, Delaney, Witsel and Dahoud is a solid core of central.defensive midfielders that will propel Dortmund through a three competition season. Witsel and Weigl may be a force to to be reckoned with especially if Farve can get Weigl playing like he was under Tuchel. Dahoud had his Weigl-esq peak under Farve and the re-uniting of the two may do wonders for our fluidity in the midfield. Gotze and Kagawa are our first choice attacking midfielders, both with the skill sets necessary for top level play. If Gotze continues his progress from last season and Kagawa can continue to be out top super sub, then things are looking great for Dortmund’s attack.

As for wingers we also have a deluge of talent. Both Christian Pulisic and Jadon Sancho have gone from upstart kids to two of the leagues best wingers over the course of a year. This year I predict the hype for both will reach insane levels. Marius Wolf was another welcome addition to the squad. With so many competitions, Reus’ injury concerns and Phillip playing striker, its good we grabbed another player who can play on the wing. Jacob Brunn Larson, who is now hurt to start the season, looked extremely promising during the pre-season and may still yet make an impact at BVB this year. Don’t be surprised if he comes back after winter training camp and starts tearing it up time to time like Christian did when he first made the 18. Lastly Marco Reus is the captain now, with that comes lots of responsibility on his part. This is his team and on top of keeping up his impeccable play, he will have to lead. Our team loses their focus easily when down a goal, it will be on Marco to lead by example during stretches of bad play.

We already discussed the forward position but just some finishing notes. If Phillip doesn’t pan out up front, and Isak is still not ready, this Hinrunde could get ugly fast. On the other hand, Phillip is a really reliable and good player overall. He has all the tools in the world to help him, with world class wingers and midfielders feeding him balls and giving him chances. Only time will tell!

Prediction: 2nd place Bundesliga, Final in Pokal, Final 8 in UCL

This team has far too much talent not to shoot for the title. If Farve works out as a manager and we can get over our FB and striker woes we have a great chance at the top spot. However, both Klopp and Tuchel needed a year to get things revved up at BVB, and we are coming off one of our worst recent years. Things may not be pretty to start, but as long as we can retain this squad, Dortmund may finally be competing at the highest level yet again.