Tomorrow, Borussia Dortmund will kick off the first match of a two-legged competition against Rangers FC in the Round of 32 playoff of the Europa League. If BVB can get through this stage, they will be into the Round of 16. If they can make it through the ensuing rounds of knockout football, they will only need to win one more match, to be played in Sevilla, to be crowned Europa League Champions.
The Europa League might not have the same reputation as its more prestigious cousin, the Champions League, but it’s also not some random tin pot like the Club World Cup. Winning the Europa League would put BVB in some pretty respectable company, with recent winners including Atletico Madrid, Sevilla, Manchester United, Villareal, and Chelsea.
This Borussia Dortmund season has been mostly disappointing. Losing out in the Champions League group stage, the DFB Pokal, and falling behind in the Bundesliga has left little meaningful football to be played. Despite all these failures, if BVB can close out the season with one final win in Sevilla before hoisting the Europa League trophy to the sky, it will feel incredible.
That’s why I expect nothing less than a win in the entire competition from Dortmund. There are no excuses otherwise. There’s not a single club in the competition that BVB shouldn’t beat on a good day: not Barcelona, Bayer Leverkusen, Napoli, or RB Leipzig. Each of these opponents are entirely beatable. In fact, 538 has us as the plurality favorites to win:
At the end of the day, it’s cup elimination football and anything can happen. If BVB dominate a round and get knocked out by a worldie or two, then so be it. But if I see the lack of effort on the pitch that BVB displayed against Leverkusen and in other matches in the Fall, I’m going to be very disappointed, because this trophy is ours for the taking. Let’s get to work!