FEATURE | Have Borussia Dortmund been convincing this season?

The summer transfer business at Borussia Dortmund looked like one of the best in years. Despite losing Erling Haaland to Manchester City, the Black and Yellows acquired key players to strengthen their squad in both defence and attack. However, the fact that a managerial change in the appointment of Edin Terzić has taken place and the diagnosis of testicular cancer in the case of Sebastian Haller means that the transition hasn’t been an easy one.

Former Bayern Munich midfielder Dietmar Hamann had Borussia Dortmund as champions in his predictions. The fact that Bayern lost Robert Lewandowski was seen as an opening for BVB to reclaim the trophy they last won in 2012. While the Bavarians have gone from strength to strength without the Polish striker, their rivals have been far from convincing in the five games they have played so far.

Borussia Dortmund started their campaign with a narrow 1-0 win against Bayer Leverkusen. It was a game in which BVB got lucky to come away with all three points, to say the least. Gregor Kobel and Nico Schlotterbeck played immense roles in keeping a clean sheet, handing Terzić a much-needed first league win during his stint as permanent head coach. A few days later his team’s trip to Freiburg resulted in more unconvincing display despite a come-from-behind win thanks to the substitutions he made.

When Werder Bremen came from 2-0 down to win 3-2 at the Signal Iduna Park on the the following weekend, all the criticism doors started to open. One of the main critics was former Bayern Munich and German national team star, Lothar Matthäus. In his Sky column he wrote: “At Dortmund, there are many leaders on the pitch when things are going well. When there are problems, everyone hides.” The mentality question that always comes up when Dortmund loses games was once again mentioned by many.

On MD5, Borussia Dortmund took the lead against Hoffenheim through Marco Reus and withstood second-half pressure from TSG to secure a clean sheet, their third 1-0 win in five Bundesliga games. Whilst BVB look much improved defensively, they’re struggling in the final third.

Dortmund are again rebuilding their squad. Constantly they’ve sold their best players from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to Jadon Sancho and whilst BVB generally do a good job of replacing players, it isn’t easy to do so.

When it comes to the new players up front they are still trying to integrate themselves with their surroundings and build an understanding with their new teammates. The fact that Anthony Modeste got off the mark against Hertha Berlin is good news and relief for Dortmund. Karim Adeyemi, who has been struggling with injury, is yet to hit his full stride but expected to come up good for the team in the coming weeks.

In defence, there are still holes to be filled. The right-back position is still one issue that needs addressing. Thomas Meunier’s performances haven’t been convincing enough and despite Marius Wolf doing a good job in that position he is not a natural full-back and can’t be relied on to take on that role throughout the season. Terzić recently confirmed that they will be without Mateu Morey for the foreseeable, despite a recent return from injury.

The addition of Schlotterbeck and Niklas Süle has been a breath of fresh air and a much-needed reinforcement for Dortmund’s backline who conceded 53 goals last season, more than any other team who finished in the top six. Schlotterbeck has been doing a brilliant job so far. Süle’s fitness issues, which also hampered his time at Bayern, are still in need of addressing and already frustrating the fans.

Considering the new system Terzic is implementing, which is far less reliant on possession and aggressive pressing as compared to Marco Rose, and the fact that the new signings are yet to adapt to their new environment it’s no surprise that BVB’s start hasn’t been all fireworks. But the essential tools are in place and while the Black and Yellows will be tested further as the season goes on and the fixtures come thick and fast they are in a good position to challenge on all fronts.

Brook Genene

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