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Borussia Dortmund Have The Strength To Topple Bayern Munich And Conquer Europe

On April 9, 2013, Borussia Dortmund gained the fandom of millions around the world — or maybe it was just me. Dortmund had already achieved domestic success and Champions League glory in the past, but most fans (once again, me) cared more for their FIFA video game squad chemistry than their actual real-life play.

On that crucial night in Dortmund, BVB faced off in the return leg of a Champions League quarterfinal matchup with an upstart, money-fueled Malaga team. The first leg in Spain had finished 0-0, and the pressure was on Dortmund to finish off the Spaniards at home in front of 65,000 of their die-hard fans.

Featuring what would now be considered a ‘Dream Team’, Dortmund went down early but equalized with a Robert Lewandowski goal assisted in back-heel-flick fashion from Marco Reus. After a series of missed chances and ridiculous saves from Malaga’s Willy Caballero, a controversial non-offside call allowed Malaga’s Eliseu to put them up 2-1 with just eight minutes to go of the 90. But on this night, Dortmund would not be denied a chance to continue its magical run.

One minute into stoppage time, a weak Jesus Gamez clearance was left at the feet of Reus with a wide-open look at the goal. He calmly slotted home and rushed to pick up the ball and place it at midfield, knowing Dortmund needed one more in order to put Malaga away as they led on away goals.

They just needed one more stroke of luck. They got it three minutes into stoppage time after a Reus cross into the box clanked off multiple bodies and fell to Felipe Santana, of all people, who only needed to tap-in from point-blank range. He did, and Dortmund were through to the semifinals. 

It was at that point that I contracted yellow soccer fever.

Unfortunately, they ran into a loaded Bayern Munich team in the final and lost 2-1 on a late Arjen Robben goal. Bayern Munich also won the Bundesliga by a whopping 25 points and carried a +80 goal differential that season. If Bayern Munich failed to exist, as many of its opponents so often wish, Dortmund would have taken home the Bundesliga trophy and, more than likely, captured Champions League glory. 

Ever since that fairytale of a season, Borussia Dortmund are a team I keep my eye on. But the weight of losing that final slowed down their hype train. A year after a solid 2013-2014, eccentric manager Jurgen Klopp’s side failed to deal well with the losses of Lewandowski and Mario Gotze.


They finished seventh in the Bundesliga and bowed out of the Champions League in the round of 16. It had come time for Klopp and Dortmund to split ways. As fantastic as Klopp was for Borussia, the change might have been a blessing in disguise. 

A year away from Champions League football and a runner-up Bundesliga finish allowed Dortmund to adapt to new manager Thomas Tuchel’s ways. While they got bounced in the Europa League quarterfinals by Klopp’s Liverpool, it was clear that Dortmund was well on its way to becoming a powerhouse once again. 

With a core of familiar starters, fresh young wunderkinds and some outstanding transfers, Dortmund has recreated the impeccable squad depth that allowed for that magical run in 2012-13. 

Borussia Dortmund depth

Borussia Dortmund's incredible depth. Photo: @caughtoffside | Twitter

Prodigal son Gotze has returned and links up with former teammates Lukasz Piszczek, Marcel Schmelzer, Marco Reus and others. Young, budding stars Ousmana Dembele and Christian Pulisic have been key pieces at ages where kids are typically deciding what to major in at college.

There are even more young players that are already bidding for playing time. Emre Mor has scored in his lone Bundesliga appearance and Sebastian Rode is beginning to establish himself as a staple in midfield along with versatile veteran Gonzalo Castro. And we haven’t even gotten to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who has been one of the best strikers in the world every season since joining Dortmund from Saint-Etienne in 2013. 

Their offseason of signings has the chance to be one of the best in recent history. We’ve already talked about Mor and Rode. Raphael Guerreiro has two goals in five appearances, playing nearly everywhere on the pitch in contrast to the traditional left-back position that many expected of him.


Dembele has been superb. Andre Schurrle is and will be a dynamic forward in front of the returning Gotze. Mikel Merino has the potential to be a star, and Marc Bartra will soon carve out a much more important role than the one Barcelona was giving him. 

Losing Henrikh Mkthiryan, Ilkay Gundogan and Mats Hummels in one summer would be a death blow to nearly every other team in the world. Yet it feels like Borussia Dortmund is no worse for the wear and possibly even better for it. Letting them leave has created opportunities for younger players to showcase the immense talent they possess and allowed for new signings that will be key in the long run. 

The combination of both gives Dortmund squad depth that is hard to find on any other team, and depth is so important when it comes to making deep runs in a tournament like the Champions League. Players can’t be expected to be full-go for weekend domestic matches and then fired into lineups at the mid-week for Champions League matches throughout the season.

Having the depth that Dortmund does allows for Tuchel to mix and match his lineups, resting key players when needed and not having much drop-off when he does so. 

As an Argentina and West Ham supporter, there hasn’t been much to be happy about in recent times. But I’m putting all my eggs in the Borussia Dortmund basket for this year’s Champions League season. 

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