Last weekend, Borussia Dortmund climbed to the top of the German standings after they came from behind to beat Bayer Leverkusen 4-2. Although they only hold a slight advantage over Bayern Munich (one point), their form so far this season should be a serious cause for concern for the defending Champions.
Dortmund have perennially played second-fiddle to their more illustrious rivals, but there are signs that things could be changing. Under the management of Swiss coach Lucien Favre, they are yet to lose a single match. Has BVB’s shot at glory finally arrived? Here is why we think so.
The Bayern monopoly
Bayern have for years held a death-like grip on the Bundesliga. Their 26 titles is miles ahead of Dortmund, who follow on that list with a comparably meager eight titles. They are so dominant that they have not only become synonymous with winning back-to-back titles, they have also acquired the ability to almost determine destiny. Their superior financial muscle means that they can almost sign whomever they want from their rivals, which serves as much to strengthen them as it does to weaken their opponents.
So close, yet so far
Dortmund have finished their campaign among the top three Bundesliga teams in six of the last eight seasons. For a club that has consistently lost its best players (most of those to Bayern), it is testament to their enduring resilience that they have managed to remain competitive.
They did appear to have usurped Bayern a few years ago when under the leadership of current Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp, they won two back-to-back Bundesliga titles. They also reached the final of the Champions League, although they were eventually conquered there by none other than the Bavarians.
The right formula
At their best, Dortmund are known as one of the most entertaining teams in Europe. Their attacking football and solid defence was on full display when they scaled those incredible heights under Klopp in 2011 and 2012.
They seem to be slowly edging back to that kind of expression, with a brilliant blend of promising youth and experienced heads such as Marco Reus and Axel Witsel. 29-year old Witsel arrived at the club following an impressive World Cup with Belgium and has proven to be a revelation in midfield. So has Paco Alcácer, on loan from Barcelona, who has three goals in just 50 minutes of action so far. Christian Pulisic and Jadon Sancho are the shining lights of the young generation.
The Favre factor
Le Favre has lofty ambitions for the club. The former Nice coach has re-injected a new attacking verve to the side, who are now unbeaten in nine games in all competitions. They are currently averaging more than three goals per game in the league. They started the season with a huge 4-1 win over RB Leipzig and have since had some more notable results, including a 7-0 hammering of Nuremberg! It is of course still too early to be putting the champagne on ice, but there is a growing feeling that on this trajectory, Dortmund will be unstoppable.