German great Michael Ballack has applauded Borussia Dortmund’s efforts in reshaping the squad while maintaining their formidable face despite losing out on a host of senior players in the transfer window. Some of Dortmund’s crucial first-team players left but Ballack is impressed by the new signings, however, he feels they are not yet an indomitable force as Bayern Munich.
Last season’s top performer Henrikh Mkhitaryan signed up for Manchester United, while their neighbours Manchester City sealed a move for Ilkay Gundogan. Veteran Jakub Blaszczykowski was transferred to Wolfsburg after eight long years at the club and captain Mats Hummels dealt a blow to the Dortmund faithful by moving to Bayern Munich.
Nonetheless, in light of recent signings such as Andre Schurrle, Mario Gotze, Sebastian Rode, Ousmane Dembele and Bartra amongst other notable recruits, Ballack feels Dortmund are on the right track. He told Omnisport: "I think Dortmund can compensate [for the departures] although Hummels is a heavy loss.
"Gundogan is also an outstanding player but he was injured a lot while Mkhitaryan only had one good year, the last one. They already have players that can plug those gaps. Dembele, in particular, seems to be a player that can develop really quickly in Dortmund, just like Kingsley Coman did at Bayern.
"Of course it's all speculation but it looks like Dortmund have the players to maintain their attractive and offensive style of play. Football means losing players but also keeping an eye out on those who can make you stronger. Dortmund did a really good job."
Despite considering it as a stubborn attempt to build a team worthy of challenging for the Bundesliga title, Ballack does not think they are on a level which could shift the ground beneath Bayern Munich’s feet. According to Ballack, who cited Carlo Ancelotti’s side’s 2-0 win at Signal Iduna Park in the DFL-Supercup as evidence, Bayern Munich’s strength cannot be compared which makes them the dominant force.
He added: "You saw in the Super Cup that there is enough quality to temporarily hurt Bayern but there is a lack of personality because they have lost the likes of Hummels who was able to set an example, just like [Franck] Ribery, [Thomas] Muller or [Arturo] Vidal does.
"That's what they are missing in comparison to Bayern. All the players are nice and good players but Bayern have some guys who can show strength in an away game, or in a challenge. That was also the difference in the Super Cup."Published 23 Aug 2016, 21:10 IST