Incredible team spirit, hunger, determination and hard work are qualities usually associated with British football. But the highly regarded Jürgen Klopp married these attributes up with high tempo pressing, great movement, superb one touch and first time passing and interplay to make Dortmund not only pleasing on the eye, but also a formidable team of winners.
When you add to the mix a stadium full of 80,000 passionate fans providing one of the best atmospheres in the game, with close bonds to their heroes on the pitch, you’re left with something quite special.
This Dortmund side of the past three seasons have certainly been special. It’s a side that should be appreciated because the signs are that the big money clubs are circling to tear it apart. Bayern Munich have already activated the £31.5m buyout clause in Mario Götze’s contract, that will see him move to the Allianz Arena this summer. Striker Robert Lewandowski could be joining him and there are strong rumours Barcelona want star defender Mats Hummels.
It’s quite conceivable Dortmund could lose 3 of their 5 star players in one window and despite the sizeable fees they would receive if all three deals do indeed happen, it would be tough to quickly find replacements of equal quality.
The influence of Klopp cannot be underestimated, Dortmund had finished a disappointing 13th prior to his arrival from Mainz in 2008. They finished 6th in his first year and 5th the following season, before leading them to their first Bundesliga crown in 9 years in 2010/11. That season saw the emergence of Mario Götze and the rise to prominence of Nuri Sahin before a summer move to Real Madrid.
Robert Lewandowski, Lukasz Piszczek and Shinji Kagawa were all summer 2010 signings, joining the likes of Mats Hummels, Neven Subotic and Sven Bender, already recruited by Klopp.
2011/12 saw the departed Nuri Sahin replaced by Ilkay Gündogan, now seen by many as one of the most exciting midfield prospects in world football. With Lucas Barrios now also gone, Lewandowski took over the goalscoring mantle with aplomb, linking up well with Kagawa as Dortmund played some great football on their way to successfully defending their Bundesliga crown. With injury interrupting Götze’s season, Kagawa was able to shine and doing so, attracted the attention of Man Utd.
However, Klopp reinvested the Kagawa money wisely in an even better player and Dortmund’s next star: Marco Reus.
Neither the 2010/11 Europa League nor 2011/12 Champions League campaigns were a success, but were understandably overshadowed by the joy of winning consecutive Bundesliga titles. However, lessons were learned, clearly evident in their road to the Champions League final this year.
Perhaps it was this improved European campaign and switch of focus contributed to a stuttering 2012/13 Bundesliga season. Despite an improved league form in the second half of the season, an imperious Bayern Munich were already well on the way to a record setting Bundesliga title win. That in itself is no shame, Bayern are a fantastic side, the strongest in Europe, but head-to-head there’s still only a piece of paper between them.
This is a Dortmund side with many talented players maturing and yet to peak. The almost telepathic movement and link up between Reus, Götze and Lewandowski has been a joy to watch.
Unfortunately, injury to Götze will prevent us seeing it one last time and on the biggest stage. Reus has been superb this season, replacing the creativity of Kagawa and adding more goals. In midfield, Sven Bender is beginning to be noticed more, whilst Gündogan’s vision, range of passing, creativity, goal threat, defensive awareness and mobility make him an irresistible force.
Like the all-conquering Barcelona side of recent years, Dortmund are as much to be admired without the ball, as they are with it. The high tempo and organised pressing of opponents is as important as what they do when the have the ball.
In all likelihood, this could be a testing summer ahead for those running Borussia Dortmund, to resist the approaches of the footballing powerhouses such as Real Madrid and Barcelona casting an admiring eye toward Reus, Hummels, Gündogan and Jürgen Klopp.
So, this is not hype, hyperbole or band wagon jumping. This is just a football fan with a long running affinity to Borussia Dortmund saying enjoy them and appreciate this team, while you still can.
Written by Andy Wales
Follow Andy on Twitter @AndyArmchair
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