New Borussia Dortmund Era Begins with Europa League Clash
The 2014-2015 season was one to forget for Borussia Dortmund.
By the time the Westphalians reached the winter break, they only managed to grab 15 points out of 17 matches, their worst first half performance in history. They improved in the second half but the hole was already too deep to dig out of to make a run for the top four. The Black and Yellows finished a respectable seventh in the table and they managed to reach the quarterfinals of the UEFA Champions League before falling to Juventus.
The loss to Wolfsburg in the DFB-Pokal final in Berlin put an end to the nightmarish season; and an end to the Jurgen Klopp era. The eccentric manager reached legendary status in his seven years with the club, winning two league titles and reaching a Champions League final.
Now the torch is passed on to 41-year-old Thomas Tuchel. The former Mainz manager has a lot of work to do to get Borussia Dortmund back to the level of the top teams in Europe and that journey begins with an Europa League clash against Austrian side Wolfsberger AC.
Tuchel brings a more finessed and tactical personality to the club which will be a stark difference to the pedal to the metal mentality of the Klopp era. The bad news for the new manager is that he doesn’t have much time to transform the team as smoothly as he would like. The good news is he has the pieces to achieve success if he can tap into the roster’s potential.
Borussia Dortmund’s preseason didn’t reveal much in terms of where the team’s form is at. The Westphalians dismantled teams on their Asian tour and the only real test was against Juventus. Even then, the Italian side wasn’t one that was at full strength. But the 2-0 victory is a welcomed result and Tuchel’s tactical stamp on the team is showing. The Black and Yellows show more patience and more ground play instead of relying on the long ball.
Most importantly, Dortmund’s stars look determined to put last year’s season from hell behind them. Marco Reus especially is showing his swagger and put it on display against the Italian side with a coast-to-coast wonder goal.
The German striker signed a contract extension through 2019 and his agents recently said he has no desire of leaving Dortmund despite being linked to some of the top clubs in Europe. Reus won’t be able to lead the team by himself and will need Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to be the offensive spark supporters have come to love.
The dynamic duo’s attack will only be as strong as the play that comes from the back. Defender Mats Hummels recently opened up about his poor performance from last season and attributed it to being overweight and out of form. Now that he is back in form and Dortmund is starting the season without any serious injuries, the expectation is that Hummels, Shinji Kagawa, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Ilkay Gundogan all improve their performance from last year.
For Tuchel and the Black and Yellows, it’s a new era and a fresh start. But they shouldn’t mistake the blank slate for low expectations. The supporters at Wesfalenstadion are loyal but want to see their team return to glory. It all begins in Austria for the first leg of the Europa League match-up, one Dortmund is expected to handle easily. Starting off on the right foot in August can lead to finishing strong in May. Borussia Dortmund takes that first step on Thursday in Austria.