Just last year, Borussia Dortmund were on the brink of crisis. Following extremely successful years domestically and in the Champions League, the bright yellow outfit’s performances dropped considerably. Last season Dortmund failed to even finish in a Champions League spot and at points in the season, they languished in mid-table.
This was a side which seemed to have lost a large amount of confidence. Key players had departed, star players did not perform, and through it all rumours over then manager Jurgen Klopp began to arise. Fast forward a few months and the 2015/16 BVB team bears almost no resemblance to that of last year’s.
Under new boss Thomas Tuchel, Borussia Dortmund have begun the season in top form, powering themselves back up to a top two position. The arrival of Tuchel has undoubtedly reinvigorated the club as a whole.
Off the ball, Dortmund have returned to their high pressing best. It is once again a regular occurrence to see hordes of bright yellow kits swarming the opposition team. Striker Pierre Emerick Aubameyang has been instrumental in this sense as his dynamic athleticism allows him to be a constant menace for center backs. Then there’s also Marco Reus who performs an identical task.
However, it’s not just the defensive aspect of the game in which Dortmund are excelling. The defining factor this season has been the enhanced fluidity and functionality of the German club’s attack. In midfield, Tuchel has deployed a triangular shape, in which their is one holding midfielder, accompanied by two more advanced midfielders. In the base of midfield, Tuchel has two options with very contrasting skill sets. First, there’s the impressive youngster Julian Weigl, who has wowed audiences with his play in the past few weeks. Weigl is in the mould of a Michael Carrick which is something that is highly unusual for a player his age.
The 20 year old is calm in possession and always picks out a meaningful pass to start off attacks. Then there’s Sven Bender who is a solid defensive option. The two make for the perfect squad combination as Bender is best suited for when BVB shut up shop, while Weigl is a better option when the club are in control.
In the advanced positions, Shinji Kagawa and Ilkay Gundogan have been working excellently in tandem. Gundogan’s passing ability coupled with his ability to run at and beat his man, creates chances for the entire team. The diminutive Shinji Kagawa constantly buzzes around the pitch exchanging passes. The Japan international is incredibly technically gifted and his ability to carve out a chance and jink his way past opponents also creates a plethora of chances for teammates.
With a top notch creative force in behind, the forward players have really begun to hit their strides. Marco Reus, despite suffering from inconsistent form, has still managed to score 5 goals in just 8 games as per ESPN. Reus while being a winger, has found success making central runs into the box in order to receive the ball in goalscoring positions.
And then we make our way to perhaps the most important piece of Dortmund’s jigsaw puzzle, Aubameyang. Aubameyang has truly taken this season by storm as his record goal tally suggests. The Gabonese footballer supplies his team with a number of assets up front. For one, Aubameyang’s searing pace allows him to burst past any defender through the middle or down the touchline. The forward has been able to utilize his sharp movement in order to create chances for himself. This quick movement is perfect for the likes of Kagawa and Gundogan, providing them an option to play the ball in behind at all times.Dortmund’s main man seems to have developed inane predatory instincts in recent times too. The 26 year old registered a shot accuracy of 60 percent so far, a figure any striker in the world would be proud of.
With Aubameyang and Reus providing the goals, Kagawa, Gundogan and Weigl providing the flair, and Bender providing defensive solidity, Borussia Dortmund have transformed into a lethal attacking force. If things continue like this, the Bundesliga might have two world class clubs in the not so distant future.