The 2015-16 season was quite impressive for the Die Schwarzgelben as they finished with 78 points from 34 games – a tally which would have been enough to hand them the title in 49 out of the 53 Bundesliga seasons.
Although they were beaten to the title by Bayern Munich, Dortmund continued with their attacking brand of football under new manager Thomas Tuchel and it seemed that the team would only grow stronger with time. Sadly, the bubble very nearly burst early in the summer.
The summer transfer window saw the departure of three huge names from Borussia Dortmund – club captain Mats Hummels, long-serving playmaker Ilkay Gundogan and talented midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan. Hummels decided to sign for Bayern, while Gündogan and Mkhitaryan completed big money moves to Manchester City and Manchester United respectively.
Their departure left huge gaps in the Dortmund squad. However, over the next two months, Tuchel completed a string of transfers featuring a combination of proven stars and talented youngsters.
Five years ago, Borussia Dortmund’s CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke had said: “We certainly want to play football and… make our five million fans happy.” This preseason proved that he is sticking to that philosophy. Borussia Dortmund was one of the busiest clubs when it came to transfer activity in the summer window and considering the wide array of talent they have managed to obtain over two months, they were also one of the most successful ones.
Big names on board
The signings of Andre Schuerrle and Mario Goetze were extremely important as it straightened their midfield and also showed their intent to get on board big names. Goetze has been one of the most inconsistent talents of Bundesliga even after winning the league for Dortmund and scoring the winning goal for Germany in the World Cup final. He has been battling injury concerns since leaving Dortmund in 2013 and the 24-year-old will be looking to win back the support of the Signa Iduna Park this season. On the other hand, Schuerrle was quite impressive for Wolfsburg last season after scoring 10 goals in 43 appearances and will surely be the one to replace Mkhitaryan on the left flank.
However, the main success of Dortmund lies in the young talent they have managed to sign in the transfer market. The 25-year-old central midfielder Sebastian Rode, who arrived from Bayern, has already proved his mettle in the Bundesliga and Tuchel will expect him to take over Gundogan’s role at the heart of the midfield. The other exciting midfield addition has been the 19-year-old French winger Ousmane Dembele who was brilliant for Rennes last season and will provide tough competition to the bigger names in the squad.
The Dortmund defence also saw couple of great additions as Portugal’s Euro 2016 winning defender Raphael Guerreiro and FC Barcelona’s Marc Bartra joined the German club this summer. Guerreiro has been a breakout star for Portugal and should be an automatic starter while Bartra will be looking to be a part of the backline that will have to cope with the departure of Hummels.
Lastly, Tuchel was an absolute revelation for Dortmund last season and will surely play a major role in determining their fortunes this time around. Taking over from Jurgen Klopp, Tuchel efficiently applied his tried and tested 4-2-3-1 formation and the results came almost instantly. The team looked quite comfortable going forward and they ended the season with 82 goals to their name – 2 more than Bayern.
With eight new players, Dortmund have reshaped their squad ahead of the new season and with the likes of Marco Reus and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang leading the charge, this can very well be the season when they end Bayern’s four-year long domination on German football. When asked about his team’s aspirations this season, Tuchel said: “We want to challenge the big teams in the Champions League, attack the top of the Bundesliga, and win the DFB-Pokal.”