Last season, Borussia Dortmund came within two points of winning the Bundesliga for the first time since 2011/12. Under manager, Lucien Favre, they played free-flowing, attacking football that entertained not just Bundesliga fans, but football fans across the world. At the beginning of February this year, Dortmund were seven points clear at the top of the table but, after a series of disappointing draws and defeats, three and a half months later, arch-rivals, Bayern Munich, lifted the Bundesliga title for the seventh campaign in a row. Can BVB challenge again in 2019/20 to try and end Bayern’s unprecedented dominance?
The return of Hummels
Mats Hummels is a product of the Bayern Munich academy. As a result of a lack of game time, in 2009, he joined Borussia Dortmund for a fee of four million euros. In the next seven years, Hummels was instrumental, as, under then manager Jurgen Klopp, his side won back-to-back Bundesliga championships in 2010/11 and 2011/12, winning the German Cup that season as well and were runners-up in the 2013 Champions League, following a heart-breaking 2-1 loss to Bayern in the final at Wembley. In 2016, the defender joined the Bavarian club and won the German title in each of his three seasons in Munich as well as the German Cup in 2018/19. However, last month, it was announced that Hummels would re-join Borussia Dortmund for a fee of £33 million. The 2014 World Cup winner turns 31 in December but is still considered one of the best centre-backs in Germany. He will add some much-needed experience and defensive steel, which has been missing from the Black and Yellows’ backline in recent years and is ultimately the reason why, Dortmund blew their chance of being crowned league champions, earlier this year. Only time will tell though, to see if the departure of Hummels from Bayern will be a significant enough blow to stop them from winning their eighth league crown in a row.
Hummels will be a good replacement for centre-half, Abdou Diallo, who has left BVB to join PSG for £29 million. Favre’s team have also lost talented winger, Christian Pulisic, who left the club to go to Chelsea for £58 million. On the flip side, Dortmund have made some shrewd signings this summer. As well as Hummels, they’ve bought wingers, Julian Brandt and Thorgan Hazard from Bayer Leverkusen and Borussia Monchengladbach respectively, for a total of just £45 million. They’ve also signed left-back Nico Schulz for £23 million from Hoffenheim and, after an impressive campaign on loan at Dortmund last season, in which he finished as the team’s top scorer with 18 league goals, Paco Alcacer has made his move to Germany, a permanent one, leaving Barcelona for around 19 million pounds. Meanwhile, in addition to losing Hummels, two club legends have departed the Allianz Arena, in Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben, who has now retired from football. Furthermore, long-serving defender Rafinha has joined Flamengo while James Rodriguez’s two-year loan deal has come to an end, with the Colombian going back to Real Madrid. Despite this, the German Champions have spent over £100 million on their defence this window, with the acquisitions of Benjamin Pavard from Stuttgart and Lucas Hernandez from Atletico Madrid. Although, it remains to be seen as to whether Nico Kovac’s men can cope with losing three of their attacking players, who, between them, contributed 20 goals and 8 assists in their last campaigns in Munich. Perhaps Bayern will be tempted to bring in reinforcements ahead of the closing of the transfer window in Germany on the 2nd of September.
Other factors to consider
Speaking of offensive trios, Borussia Dortmund have one of the most exciting frontlines, anywhere in Europe, consisting of captain, Marco Reus, wonderkid, Jadon Sancho and goal-machine, Paco Alcacer. They chipped in with 47 league goals and 22 league assists between them last season and if they can produce anything similar to that amount again, their team will have a good chance of ending their wait for another Bundesliga trophy. We will soon see whether or not Brandt and Hazard can force their way into the first team but either way, they have added to the depth of Dortmund’s squad, something extremely important when chasing a league title. This is where Bayern Munich still have the edge, as they have lots of consistent performers and game-changing players within their ranks. Even with the losses of Robben and Ribery, their squad is stacked full of serial winners who know how to get the job done and who have done just that for seven straight years. So, it will be fascinating to see if Favre’s youthful charges can mount another serious attempt at Bundesliga glory and if this time, they have enough to hold off the 29-time league champions. Before then, the two clubs will clash in the German Super Cup next Saturday, before the Bundesliga gets underway a fortnight later.
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