After several seasons of mediocrity since Jürgen Klopp stepped down as coach, with four different coaches since, Dortmund seems to have found the answer in Lucien Favre. Stated below are the reasons I believe Dortmund has rejoined the European elite and why they will prove the critics wrong.
Overall Team Quality & Depth
If you look at some of the best teams across Europe, you’ll see a common theme between all of them; a large amount of depth and talent at each position. Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola is notorious for rotating his squads and just this summer they added Riyad Mahrez who wouldn’t even be starting if not for Kevin de Bruyne being injured. Both Real Madrid’s and Barcelona’s bench have players that would start at other teams. The teams that experience the most success domestically and in the European tournaments generally have a squad that is rotated often. After adding eight new players over the summer, Dortmund are a more complete squad than they have been in the last few years, and now are better acclimated to the amount of games they will have to play this season.
Elite Attack Force
Another reason Dortmund have played so well is their five man strike force of Marco Reus, Paco Alcácer, Jacob Bruun Larsen, Jadon Sancho, and Christian Pulisic. The five of them have combined for 18 of their 23 goals and thirteen assists between the five of them. The most surprising of this group is Jadon Sancho. After joining from Manchester City last season and playing in only twelve matches with a goal and four assists to his name, he has been one of their best players, and despite only starting one game in the Bundesliga he has provided a goal and six assists in just seven games.
Another key reason for Dortmund’s success is Marco Reus. Injuries have hampered him since he joined Borussia Dortmund, and have prevented him from being able to contribute to the team. This season has been a different story though. After Germany’s early exit from the World Cup, he was given plenty of time to recover and for the first time in the past few seasons, came into the season completely healthy and ready to go. He has scored five goals and provided three assists with four of those goals and two of the assists coming in Bundesliga games. If he stays healthy, he shouldn’t have any problems reaching the twenty-goal mark for the first time since the 2015/16 season.
The final player I want to talk about in this attack force is Paco Alcácer. Despite only playing in four games for the team this season and a total of 81 minutes he leads the team with seven goals. Against Bayer Leverkusen he subbed in and immediately scored to put Dortmund ahead and then scored again to put the game away. Against FC Augsburg he once again subbed in, and scored almost immediately. He then went on to score two more to complete his hat-trick, including a free-kick to win it in the last minute of the game. He is what Michy Batshuayi was for Dortmund in the second half of the 2017/18 season, and if he can continue to provide goalscoring whether it be as a starter or off the bench, he is exactly the type of player Dortmund need.
Lucien Favre the Master Tactician
Dortmund has everything they need in terms of players, but no team is complete without a manager to mold them into a winning team, and that is exactly what Lucien Favre has done for this team. Primarily shaping the team into a 4-3-2-1 formation has allowed the team to control the tempo in their games, and have a free-flowing attack, and a defense that has rarely been caught out. As seen by their games against Bayer Leverkusen and FC Augsburg, Favre has done an amazing job at making adjustments and substitutes that have changed the outcome of the game. His use of Paco Alcácer and Jadon Sancho proves this notion, as his constant use of them off the bench has allowed his starters to run the opposing defense to the ground before inserting either Sancho, Alcácer, or someone else that forces the opposition to focus on them, creating more opportunities for the rest of the team. Under his guidance Dortmund have transformed themselves into one of the best teams in Europe.
I believe that while Borussia Dortmund to this point has been successful, they will undoubtedly have some struggles as the season goes along. That being said, I believe that they will win the Bundesliga this season, dethroning Bayern Munich and claiming their 9th title and first since the 2011/12 season. As for the Champions League, I predict they will finish top of their group out and get to the quarter finals. Whether they do this or not; I believe they will be one of the best teams in Europe this season and will be a fun and exciting team to watch.