From The Sidelines
“Deutscher Meister Borussia Dortmund (Fah)” (CC BY 2.0) by dirkvorderstrasse
The Bundesliga campaign is only just over but plans are being made for next season, when Borussia Dortmund’s captain, Mats Hummels, will be lining up for the champions, Bayern Munich.
Hummels will make his final appearance for Thomas Tuchel’s side in the DFB-Pokal final against his new club, with Dortmund having to replace their leader and key defender.
The 27-year-old, who will be a part of Germany’s team at Euro 2016 this summer, started 29 games in this year’s Bundesliga for Dortmund and he was generally ranked as the best centre-back in the division.
Hummels’ return to Bayern, where he began his career, both strengthens the champions and weakens Dortmund, just as was the case in the deals for Mario Gotze and Robert Lewandowski, and it leaves Tuchel with a major hole to fill in his back line.
So how will Dortmund, a side who will also be without star midfielder İlkay Gündoğan due to injury according to the headlines at http://extra.bet365.com/news/en/football/bundesliga, challenge old foes Bayern next season?
Title charge on the cards
Tuchel was dissatisfied with his team’s Bundesliga performance this season, despite the 78 points his team collected being enough to win the German top flight in many years in the past. In fact, 46 out of 53 times their points haul would have given them the league championship. The 82 goals Dortmund scored also set a club record, so there are many reasons to be positive about BVB.
But Bayern were so dominant that they ended up finishing 10 points clear of Dortmund, with the two defeats suffered by Pep Guardiola’s side representing an even better record than BVB’s four losses.
A benefit for Dortmund next season is that their second-place league finish means they go straight into the group stage of the Champions League, whereas their season started at the end of July last year as they had to go through Europa League qualification from the fourth round.
Tuchel will therefore have longer to drill his side ahead of the new campaign and he has already made major moves in the transfer market, where Dortmund have landed the signing of the hotly-tipped Ousmane Dembele.
The France Under-21 international signed from Rennes on a five-year deal, insisting that he “only wanted Dortmund”, showing the club can attract top young talent despite the loss of Hummels.
Upheaval at Bayern
Losing Hummels is a blow for Dortmund, but they can benefit from the managerial changes at Bayern, where Carlo Ancelotti is arriving to replace the Manchester City-bound Guardiola.
Dortmund still have some of the finest players in Europe, with the likes of Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, not to mention Marco Reus and Shinji Kagawa, and all are able to fire them close to glory once more.
Mkhitaryan’s numbers were particularly impressive this season, with the Armenia international managing to contribute 23 goals and 32 assists in 51 games. Aubameyang hit 40 goals in all competitions with one of the best strike rates of any attacker in world football.
BVB have stars all over the pitch, including the vast potential of Christian Pulisic, who is already a full United States international at the age of 17.
Matthias Ginter may well be the man asked to succeed Hummels as Dortmund’s main defender. The 22-year-old is one of the best young players in Europe but his versatility has counted against him as he has been selected in a range of positions.
Perhaps next year will be Ginter’s – and Dortmund’s – year.