It’s finally time! Borussia Dortmund’s 2019-2020 Bundesliga season begins this weekend as BVB take on Augsburg. Before we get to previewing that game, let’s take a look at what’s in store for BVB this season. First, let’s take a look at our transfer business (so far).
Nicolas Schulz (Hoffenheim)
Julian Brandt (Bayer Leverkusen)
Thorgan Hazard (Borussia Monchengladbach)
Mats Hummels (Bayern Munich)
Mateu Morey (Barcelona)
Paco Alcacer (Barcelona)
Judging by our purchases alone, this may be one of our best summer windows ever. Nico Schulz is a great fullback, and with fullback being our thinnest position, he may be one of the most crucial transfers this summer. Getting both Julian Brandt and Thorgan Hazard was thought impossible for Dortmund, but a little help from a certain teenage American got them there. The arrival of Mats Hummels caused quite a stir, but like it or not, for a team that gets tilted at times, a calm and collected center back is exactly what we need. Mateu Morey is currently injured, but he looks to be a promising piece for us. Morey really is the classic young overlooked player that always finds a way to grow at Dortmund. Lastly, Paco Alcacer completed his transfer at the end of his loan from Barcelona. If you watched him last season you know what he can do.
Abdou Diallo (PSG)
Max Phillip (Dinamo Moscow)
Alexander Isak (Real Sociedad)
Shinji Kagawa (Real Zagaroza)
Omer Toprak (Werder Bremen)
Andre Schurrle (Spartak Moscow)-Loan
Jeremy Toljan (Sassulo)-Loan
Sergio Gomez (SD Huesca)-Loan
Christian Pulisic (Chelsea)-end of loan
This probably isn’t the end of BVB’s business, as rumors swirl around Raphäel Guerreiro’s departure, but so far it’s been pretty good. Getting rid of dead weight like Andre Schurrle and Jeremy Toljan is crucial with BVBs current wage bill. Offloading some defenders like Abdou Diallo and Omer Toprak could be an error as the season progresses. Max Phillip and Isak never really got their time to shine at BVB, either because we bought better players (Phillip) or never had room to begin with(Isak). Pulisic was good for BVB, but each of the players we bough with his transfer fee are better then him, so his departure is definitely a net positive for the club. Shinji will be missed, but it was his time to go.
Optimal Lineups and Depth
Well, here is my best shot at what our ideal lineup will look like as the season progresses:
Lets go over this line-by-line:
Bürki is still our number one goalkeeper. While Hitz has played a bunch during preseason, Bürki should still be our number one option. Bürki earned us quite a few points last season with his immaculate saves. While he is due for a stupid mistake from time to time he more then makes up for it. Hitz will be fine to fill in for an occasional league game against weaker opponents. In Europe and against the best in the Bundesliga, Bürki still gets the gloves.
I’m going to be honest here, our center back situation is a mess. Dortmund has always been club that has had zero health luck, especially in the fall. We added one center back with an inure history in Mats Hummels while getting rid of Omer Toprak and Abdou Diallo. Our current center back depth chart looks like Akanji-Hummels then Zagadou, Weigl, Baleridi, Raschl. Two of those players would be moving out of position(Weigl and Rascl). With Bundesliga, Pokal, and Champions League an injury or two puts us in a rough spot.
Moving on from the bad is the good with our CB’s. I’m being serious when I say that Manuel Akanji is probably the most underrated center back in Europe. He has great sense when the other team is on the break,when he’s defending set pieces and closing out a dribble in zone 14. He can tackle quite well and his passing from the back is impressive. He really can do it all. Our other starting CB is Dotmund’s Legend/”Betrayer” Mats Hummels. While the season will start rough for Hummels with the boo’s he’ll receive from home fans, eventually he should settle in. I do worry that he looked very bad last year at Bayern. Bayern was a trash fire last year so maybe Hummels play was just a reflection of locker room turmoil. However, he did have some iffy moments in pre-season as well.OK maybe I haven’t moved on from the bad, but if he falls out of form our depth problem will be all the more a problem. One positive factor that I know Hummels will bring to BVB is his leadership. Dortmund blew it for the title last year because they feel apart when things didn’t go their way. With a center back that has seen everything, BVB will be more prepared to deal with these situations.
For the rest of our center backs, Zagadou will only get better with time so I look forward what he will bring this year.Leonardo Balerdi is still new to BVB but he comes amidst much hype. If he gets into form quickly he may even replace Hummels as a starter.
Our fullback situation is also quite lean. Our starters are probably Schulz and Piszczek. Since Piz has health issues and isn’t getting any younger, I wouldn't be surprised to see Real Madrid loanee Achraf Hakimi take his regular starting spot. Hakimi is a brilliant player. He still makes some silly young player mistakes but his contribution to the team always outweighs his weakness. Marcel Schmelzer was frozen out of the squad last season, either because his fitness wasn’t up to snuff or Favre had no trust in him. We will see if he gets any playing time this season, I would not be surprised to see Marcel retire at the end of the season.
Behind Schulz, Hakimi, and Piz on the depth chart are Morey and Marius Wolf. Morey is hurt and Wolf hasn’t played often for BVB since 2018. Not great! I am leaving out Rapha Guerreiro who is obviously an amazing player but seems like he may be heading out of Dortmund before the window closes. If Raph stays a rotation of Schulz, Hakimi, Piz, Rapha, and a healthy Morey would be one of our best fullback cores in years.
We have four center midfielders. Axel Witsel, Julian Weigl, Thomas Delaney and Tobias Raschl. All four would start on just about any team in the Bundesliga. Axel is probably the best midfielder in Germany period. He controlled Bayern Munich in the Super Cup and was a dominant performer throughout the 2018-2019 season. He absolutely needs to be playing every game for BVB he possibly can. He is probably our most important player(Before you scroll down to comment most important ≠ best) game to game.
Julian Weigl had a weird 2018-2019. His best position looked to be centerback, a spot he was put in only because of depth issues on the squad. Since his dominant time with Tuchel ended, Weigl just hasn’t looked the same. However, during the preseason and against Bayern in the Supercup, Weigl has looked more and more like his old self. A passing maestro, Weigl who can handle pressure is obviously our best option to start alongside Witsel. If Weigl starts to look shaky then Thomas Delaney should be our go to guy. Delaney is probably the most aggressive player we have on the field at any time. He just doesn’t feel or care about any pressure he put under while on the ball or off it. I think he will make a leap this year if he gets more playing time. Choosing between an improving Weigl and improving Delaney is a very good problem for Favre to have.
Lastly, we have Tobias Raschl. A BVB youth teamer, 19 year old Tobias Raschl is the real deal. In his time for BVB during the preseason he has impressed everyone. He can pass and control the ball well. He seems apt to handling the defensive duties expected of a central midfielder as well, a rare trait for those of his position and age. Raschl is the type of player that just radiates the classic BVB Wonderkid vibe. Also he can slot in at center back just like Weigl. That may be very useful as we hit the busy stretches of the season.
Wings/Forwards and Attacking Midfielders
Dortmund has an embarrassment of riches up front. Marco Reus, Julian Brandt, Thorgan Hazard, Mario Gotze, Jadon Sancho, Paco Alcacer, Jacob Brunn Larsen, and Paco Alcacer all are world class or near world class level players(okay maybe except JBL). It will be hard to pick the best payers to start every game, another good problem to have for Favre.
Marco Reus can play on the wing or in the center. He is amazing everywhere we put him but since we have to many top wingers already he is probably best at center, especially since Gotze shouldn’t play twice a week. Gotze has an incredible year in 2018-2019 and if he builds off it he will be one of the top players in the league. Gotze’s vision is still elite even if he isn’t fast, and don’t discount his shooting ability. Paco is our guy to play up top and I’d expect him to any game he’s not being rested this year. Paco has a great mind for making runs at the correct time, sometimes his runs are so good even his teammates are surprised by his position. His leg is a cannon and we may even see some set piece goals from him this year.
Sancho and Hazard/Brandt are our best options on the wing. Sancho on the right and Hazard/Brandt on the left. For now I can’t say whether Thorgan or Julian will fit in better on the team, but as the season progresses Favre will probably start to lean one way or another. These new acquisitions are the real deal. They can pass, they can cut in, they can cross and they can shoot. Now they do excel in different areas, Thorgan can shoot better, Brandt can cross better, but no matter which is playing we are set up for success. Sancho has the opportunity to solidify himself as one of Europe’s top wingers if he keeps his play up. While he is liable to play some really bad half’s of football, he also can turn it on at the drop of a hat.
Game Plan and Predictions
I don’t foresee Favre doing anything new when it comes to overall game plan for BVB. Against tough teams we will absorb pressure and go for the counter. This worked so well against Bayern Munich last week that I can’t imagine we’d plan something differently in European competition. As long as we can rely on Witsel and our backline to absorb pressure then we can take on any team in Europe. For teams we are clearly better than it will be the opposite. We’ll dominate possession and fire off shots in good positions. When we go up, we will look to capitalize on the opposing team being forced to open up as they look to equalize. The game plan will be business as usual but the team is more stacked. it should be fun!
My prediction:I think this is Dortmund’s year. BVB only lost last season because they blew it. Our main rivals for the title, Bayern Munich are weaker then they were last year. With an infusion of talent and leadership BVB has only themselves to blame if they aren’t the league leaders on matchday 34.
- Dortmund brought in some great attacking players and defenders this summer
- Depth is still a major issue at the back.
- A BVB that learns to come back from behind is a force to be reckoned with.
- Favre has an embarrassment of riches to choose at the central midfield and winger positions.
- Mats Hummels success depends more on his leadership then his actual play. However if he plays worse then he did last year we are in trouble.
- The return of an inform midfield Julian Weigl would be a boon to our title chances.
- Leonardo Balerdi and Tobias Raschl may go from players you never heard of to players all your friends claim they “discovered” first playing FIFA20 Career mode or FM and watching those YouTube videos with awful music.
- Favre was rated one of Germany’s most erotic managers. Very important for our season outlook imo.
- Axel Witsel, Marco Reus and Jadon Sancho are our three best players. If they are at the level of or better then last season we will be great.
- We are gonna score so many goals.
- This will be the start of FTW’s 4th full season covering Dortmund (We started winter 2016). Thanks for following along and reading everyone. If you told me that this site would be around for so long when first conceptualized(at the Kenmore Square U Burger with some buddies) I would not have believed it. Thanks again for sticking around!