For a second season running, Bayern Munich were at their all-conquering best in the Bundesliga. But Borussia Dortmund were once again the best of the rest, although their season was left soured by the fact that there was no silverware to show for their efforts, and they also surrendered to eventual champions, Real Madrid in the UEFA Champions League.
Dortmund’s stars last season were Marco Reus and Robert Lewandowski, who contributed 35 goals between them, Reus with 16 more assists. Lewandowski has since moved on to Bayern, and Reus will almost definitely miss the start of the season as he recovers from a foot injury. But, it would be unfair to judge Dortmund based on their exploits last season. At one point, their entire back line was out injured, and they had just lost Mario Gotze to Bayern. Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Pierre Emerick Aubameyang took time to settle in, and with Bayern rampaging, Dortmund couldn't afford the number of slip ups they had.
Jurgen Klopp has added to his squad over the summer, replacing the void left by Lewandowski's move by bringing in Adrian Ramos from Hertha Berlin and Ciro Immobile from Torino. Knowing the sort of character Klopp is, it is almost certain that Dortmund will not go down without a fight.
In: Ji Dong-won (Sunderland), Adrián Ramos (Hertha Berlin, €9m), Ciro Immobile (Torino, €19.4m), Nuri Sahin (Real Madrid, €6M), Matthias Ginter (Freiburg, €10M)
Out: Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich, free), Manuel Friedrich, Julian Schieber, Marvin Duksch (Loaned out)
Goalkeepers: Roman Weidenfeller, Mitchell Langerak, Zlatan Alomerovic
Defenders: Neven Subotic, Mats Hummels, Sokratis Papastathopoulos, Matthias Ginter, Marcel Schmelzer, Erik Durm, Lukasz Piszczek
Midfielders: Sebastian Kehl, Sven Bender, Jonas Hoffman, Ilkay Gundogan, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Marco Reus, Milos Jojic, Jakub Blaszczykowski, Nuri Sahin, Kevin Grosskreutz
Forwards: Ciro Immobile, Adrian Ramos, Ji Dong-Won, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang,
Note: Squad is subject to change until end of the transfer window
Jurgen Klopp is a mercurial character to say the very least. Always animated on the touchline, firing up his troops, Klopp is not one to try too many different systems. But he gets his players adopting to his style of football, and his method of playing the game. Just as last season, Klopp has been astute in the transfer market again. He has brought in Matthias Ginter, who had a season with Freiburg that pushed him into the Germany World Cup winning squad. He has replaced Lewandowski with two promising young strikers in Ramos and Immobile.
As with any other move Klopp has made, this also has its own risks, but then that is the name of the game that he plays. Klopp gets his side playing an open, expansive brand of football, which when successfully employed is an absolute delight to watch. Last season, all the beautiful football had a meaningful end product with Lewandowski up front, and this season with Immobile and Ramos there to provide him options, their style of football shouldn’t be too different.
Year after year, Bayern come in and take away his most prized assets. But that does not deter Klopp one little bit. He still makes sure that with what he has at his disposal, he gets Dortmund challenging.
Best finishes in the Bundesliga (past 20 years)
|Champions||1994–95, 1995–96, 2001–02, 2010–11, 2011–12|
|2nd||1991–92, 2012–13, 2013–14|
|3rd||1996-97, 2000-01, 2002-03|
|4th||1992-93, 1993-94, 1998-99,|
Formations and Tactics
Klopp is not someone who tinkers around too much. It is a pretty rigid 4-3-3 formation that he uses, with the effervescent Marco Reus at the centre of all of Dortmund’s plays. He has two full backs in Piszczek and Schmelzer who are willing to burst a gut to get up and down the flank. The wide players in Blaszczykowski and Reus will tuck in and look to support the likes of Nuri Sahin and Henrikh Mkhitaryan, who will look to tee up the likes of Immobile and Ramos.
Like last season, Dortmund will depend heavily on Reus. But they will also expect Mkhitaryan and Aubameyang to maintain a high level of consistency, given that they had one season to bed in at Dortmund.
After the friendly against Liverpool at Anfield, one thing would have been made clear to Klopp. Immobile is a far better option to have up front than Ramos. Also, Ginter and Sokratis were outclassed at the back, which should lead to the retention of Hummels and Subotic as the first choice centre back pairing.
Best XI: Roman Weidenfeller; Lukasz Pisczek, Neven Subotic, Mats Hummels, MarcellSchmelzer; Nuri Sahin, Sven Bender; Jakub Blaszczykowski, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Marco Reus; Ciro Immobile
Dortmund will definitely be looking to better their performances from last season. Even though they have managed to consistently get the better of Bayern Munich in head-to-head encounters, the last two seasons have shown that the Bavarians with their squad depth, are the better side over a longer period of time. But Jurgen Klopp would be a disappointed man if he lets Bayern win the league without a fight for a third consecutive season, and will do all he can to ensure that Dortmund are in the running, or possibly even ahead of Bayern come May 2015.
Predicted Finish: Second behind Bayern Munich