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Bundesliga Review – Week 19

Tasked with making Borussia Dortmund into a force once again, Lucien Favre has shown his pedigree as Borussia Dortmund’s win against relegation threatened Hannover 96 on Saturday has consolidated their position at the summit of the Bundesliga. Six points clear of reigning champions Bayern Munich, we finally have an exciting and genuine title race in Germany.

For years now, Bayern Munich have dominated the upper echelons of domestic football in Germany. But we have a new force now: Favre’s Borussia Dortmund. The former Borussia Mönchengladbach and OGC Nice head coach has made the Westfalenstadion into a fortress once again, claiming 28 points from a possible 30 at home this season with their latest showcase coming against Hannover.

A drab opening hour was soon forgotten with three goals in seven minutes. Marco Reus, Mario Gotze and Raphael Guerreiro turned on the style for Borussia Dortmund, adding to Achraf Hakimi’s opener before Axel Witsel added a fifth late on. Once again though it was the home side who started off slowly, which is certainly something Favre will be wary of. Too often this season we’ve seen Dortmund conceding numerous chances in the opening five minutes and against a stronger opposition, it could well have been an uphill task for Die Schwarzgelben.

Once again, Reus proved his worth to this Borussia Dortmund team. Back from injury that kept him out of last weekend’s narrow 1-0 win at RB Leipzig, the Germany international returned. Playing his best football under Favre, a fit-again Reus is certainly a welcomed sight for Dortmund fans who wince every time he goes down. It’s imperative that the 29-year-old remains fit for the remainder of the campaign if Borussia Dortmund are to go all the way and lift their first Bundesliga title since 2011.

A sublime performance on Saturday saw Reus add a goal and assist, taking his tally to 12 goals and nine assists in the Bundesliga this season. There’s no doubt that Borussia Dortmund are reliant on their captain but when you have a player of his calibre in the squad, it lifts the whole team.

His tally this season is on track to beat his best (Gladbach 11/12 – 18 goals, 12 assists & BVB 13/14 – 16 goals, 14 assists) while his performances have certainly contributed to Dortmund’s record-breaking season that has seen them pick up 48 points from their first 19 games.

With visits to Borussia Mönchengladbach’s BORUSSIA-Park and Bayern Munich’s Allianz Arena still to come, Reus’ availability will be key to Borussia Dortmund’s title chances. A history of injuries, Favre and the coaching staff will be monitoring the Germany international closely with their eyes firmly on that Bundesliga title.

And with his heart firmly in Dortmund: “You won’t see me playing at Bayern, I promise,” Borussia Dortmund fans have every right to be excited, especially with the Champions League clash against an injury plagued Tottenham Hotspur coming up. The future is finally looking black and yellow.

But for Hannover 96, it’s not looking too good. Level on points (11) with FC Nürnberg at the bottom of the Bundesliga, the duo are already three points behind VfB Stuttgart, who occupy that relegation play-off.

Fans did however unite against Hannover president Martin Kind, who is keen to abolish the 50+1 ruling. Borussia Dortmund fans unveiled a banner prior to kick off: “50+1 stays, no ifs, no buts!” while chants from both the home and travelling contingent chanted: “Kind must go,” and “You are destroying out game.” The ruling has certainly caused controversy over the past couple of seasons with fans making regular protests a minority of high powers who are trying to abolish the rule, which currently allows fans to hold majority ownership of the club, allowing them to vote.

Borussia Dortmund CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke once said in 2016: “The German spectator traditionally has close ties with his club. And if he gets the feeling that he’s no longer regarded as a fan but instead as a customer, we’ll have a problem.” The 50+1 ruling, per the Bundesliga allows “the fans – hold a majority of their own voting rights. Under German Football League [DFL] rules, football clubs will not be allowed to play in the Bundesliga if commercial investors have more than a 49 percent stake.” This essentially stops private investors taking over a club and using that to drive profits, rather than putting fans first.

 

1 | There were debuts for RB Leipzig and USA international Tyler Adams and Bayern Munich and Canada winger Alphonso Davies. The duo arrived this window from RB New York and Vancouver Whitecaps respectively. The former played 90 minutes as Leipzig demolished Fortuna Düsseldorf while Davies played a cameo performance for Bayern Munich with their match against Stuttgart already won at 4-1. The duo are just the next prospects making the switch to Germany from America, following the likes of Christian Pulisic while Bayern Munich recently made Chris Richards’ move from FC Dallas permanent.

2 | If you want value for your money then look no further than the Bundesliga. Whether that’s through a TV service or attending a match yourself. This year we have a genuine title race on our hands which is no doubt exciting but not only that, 37 goals were scored across nine games this weekend with six of nine games involving four of more goals. Remarkable.

 

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