The World Cup is over! Argentina have emerged victorious, Lionel Messi has his trophy, Salt Bae has surfaced again just to be universally hated, and the Qataris now have a bunch of empty billion-dollar stadiums on their hands.
Meanwhile, the Bundesliga won’t resume for another month, which means Borussia Dortmund’s front office and fans have plenty of time to contemplate the tournament and what it means for the club moving forward. The World Cup is always a snapshot of football in the moment, in that it shines a bright spotlight on any major problems in the game, as well as any rising stars who might make a jump to a bigger club.
With that in mind, I thought it would be a good idea to convene the Fear the Wall crew and solicit everyone’s biggest takeaways from the World Cup that implicate Borussia Dortmund in a significant way.
Sean: Jude Bellingham is a star (and is as good as gone)
This World Cup marked a turning point, in my mind, for Jude Bellingham. Even with all of his accomplishments at Birmingham, with England, and with Borussia Dortmund, before the tournament began, I still feel that Jude was living under the label of “prospect” to the vast majority of the footballing zeitgeist. While us BVB fans have considered him a lock to be world-class for years, many others didn’t see him that way. Now, I don’t think there’s a single serious pundit or moderately knowledgeable fan on earth who doesn’t see Bellingham as England’s future captain, and arguably current best player.
Gareth Southgate showed total confidence in Bellingham’s abilities as a player. He started him in midfield in every single match for England, scored a goal, and as Anders discussed last week, has received intense praise from the English press. It all points to the notion that Jude Bellingham isn’t a rising star anymore: he has arrived.
Anders: Don’t thrash our backline just yet
I think everyone was excited to see both Big Fridge Süle and Nico Schlotterbeck being called up for Flick’s troops. I’ve read a lot of BVB-related news during the World Cup, and a lot of it seemed to revolve around blaming Schlotterbeck and/or Süle for virtually everything. First of all. Schlotterbeck only started one game for Flick’s side, which was the 2-1 defeat against Japan. Süle was fielded three times - and while Germany didn’t go through, they only conceded 1.3 goals each match. If you think about it statistically, Germany’s exit isn’t really as big of a surprise as it might seem. Statistically, across all groups, the chance of one or more good team being eliminated after the group stage is basically 100% if you compare the results to earlier tournaments.
Our friends and rivals at Bavarian Football Works have made an article regarding Flick’s bias towards Bayern players, and how it seemingly divided the locker room into two camps. This clearly had an effect on the on-pitch displays, and players like Ter Stegen even went vocal with his frustrations. Germany’s problem is more structural than anything, and when your best bet for a solid no. 9 is Niklas Füllkrug (or MOUKOKO?!), you know you’re in trouble.
Schlotterbeck has proven himself to be a world-class center back who’s somewhat consistent in his performances. Süle has had a bit of a rough start at BVB, but it would be downright idiotic to deny his capabilities on a football pitch (especially if you consider the fact, that BVB got him for free). So I’m asking everyone to take a breather. We have a good squad, and we have little reason to believe, that they won’t deliver in the second half of the season.
Joey: We have more time to prepare for the Rückrunde
It could be said that club teams with few players in the winter World Cup would actually have an advantage in training time together through the prolonged mid-season break. And although Jude and Rapha remained in Qatar through the quarterfinals, many BVB players returned to Dortmund training while the World Cup was still taking place. So instead of warming a bench in the Qatar heat for 4 straight weeks, Julian Brandt, Karim Adeyemi and company made early returns to Germany. That goes for Hazard and Meunier too. Gio and Greg weren’t far behind. This is one positive takeaway from early eliminations.
What’s more? Nobody picked up a serious injury at the tournament. Could we actually be looking at a healthy team when matches start again? If Reus, Dahoud and JBG are all fit again, our midfield depth would be impressive. Even Sebastian Haller is set to begin training with BVB. Things are looking up.
Zac: Are Dortmund scouting in the right places?
Warning: This is an extremely reactionary take completely incorporating the standard world cup biases. Reader discretion is advised.
There was some tremendous talent in the knockout rounds of the FIFA World Cup, and by the time the semi-final round rolled around, every team was a decent shout to win it all. One thing that was missing, however, was Dortmund. Dortmund had... zero players in the semi-finals. The following teams were represented in the semifinal round:
Bayern Munich, Gladbach, Frankfurt, RB Leipzig, Leverkusen
PSG, Marseille, Monaco
With the notable exception of the generation Jude Bellingham, who started all the way into the quarterfinals, Dortmund had NO representation in the semifinals because we do not have a single player from any of Argentina, France, Croatia, or Morocco. Dortmund takes a strong stance on having players who speak German, which is fine, but when literally every top team from the entirety of Europe was represented at the final (even BRIGHTON for God’s sake), it makes me question our scouting. As one of the top teams in Europe, BVB should have top talent fighting for international silverware, shouldn’t we? Maybe it’s time to expand the scouting network to where the real talent truly lies.
Patrick: Fantastic players are out there, for cheap
In a World Cup where the final came down to the two highest-paid players in the history of the sport duking it out, one thing was apparent throughout this World Cup: fantastic players are available for very cheap.
Some of the tournament’s best players; Julian Alvarez, Enzo Fernandez, Josko Gvardiol, Sofyan Amrabat, Alexis Mac Allister, Azzedine Ounahi, Mohammad Kudus, and probably a few more were all involved in transfer deals within the past 2 seasons for less than $25 million. Many of them for less than $15 million. They come from a myriad of positions, clubs, ages, and positions but they all showed that to make a competitive team you don’t need to spend $35 million to get world-class players. So to build upon what Zac said above me; it might be time for Dortmund to think outside of their well-established box and look for players in unfamiliar places as the sport’s landscape changes.
What were your takeaways from the World Cup? Let us know your thoughts!