The new season is almost upon us, and Borussia Dortmund will kick off their Bundesliga campaign at home to Bayer Leverkusen on the 23rd of August. In preparation for the new season, Chris Duncan gives Dortmund’s last season a thorough review.
The season could not have started better for Borussia Dortmund. A 4-0 rout of FC Augsburg on the opening day followed the 4-2 success over FC Bayern München in the DFL Super Cup and a 3-0 victory away at SV Wilhelmshaven in the first round of the DFB Pokal gave Die Borussen the perfect start. Summer signing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang could not have wished for a better start to the season, grabbing a hat-trick on his Bundesliga début. The Augsburg victory was followed by two home victories against Eintracht Braunschweig (2-1) and SV Werder Bremen (1-0). A 2-1 away victory at Eintracht Frankfurt followed, with another new signing, Henrikh Mkhitaryan scoring his first two goals for the club.
September started well enough for Dortmund with a 6-2 home victory against Hamburger SV, with Aubameyang and Robert Lewandowski sharing four of their sides six goals between them, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Marco Reus scoring the other two. The following match saw Dortmund open their Champions League campaign. Dortmund had been drawn in Group F along with Arsenal, Napoli and Olympique Marseille, starting their campaign away in Naples. Dortmund lost 2-1 with only an own goal from Napoli’s Colombian defender Juan Zúniga to show for their efforts. The game will be remembered more for Jürgen Klopp’s touchline rant following Gonzalo Higuain’s opening goal for the Italians than the football itself. The Champions League defeat was followed by a 1-1 draw at 1. FC Nürnberg, bringing an end to Dortmund’s 100% start in the Bundesliga.
Normal service looked to have been resumed following a hard fought 2-0 (AET) away win in the second round of the DFB Pokal against TSV 1860 München and home wins against SC Freiburg (5-0) in the Bundesliga and Olympique Marseille (3-0) in the Champions League. Dortmund suffered their first Bundesliga defeat the following match, going down 2-0 away at Borussia Monchengladbach. Dortmund actually bossed the game at Borussia-Park before losing to late goals from Max Kruse and Raffael. The turning point of the game was undoubtedly the dismissal of Dortmund’s Mat Hummels after he conceded the penalty from which Kruse opened the scoring. Marco Reus got Dortmund back to winning ways the following match day, scoring the games only goal in the 1-0 home victory of Hannover 96. The win against Die Roten (The Reds) was followed by the clubs biggest game of the season so far, Arsenal away in the Champions League. It was in fact the biggest week of the season, as following their trip to The Emirates; Dortmund faced a trip to Gelsenkirchen to face rivals FC Schalke 04 in the Bundesliga. Dortmund rose to the occasions, winning 2-1 at Arsenal and 3-1 at Schalke.
Dortmund were clearly in good form following their two victories at the end of October and showed everyone by hammering VFB Stuttgart 6-1 at Signal Iduna Park, with Greek defender Sokratis scoring his first goal for the club and Robert Lewandowski helping himself to a hat-trick, with the other goals coming from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Marco Reus. The month of November had started perfectly for Dortmund but they soon found themselves on the end of three consecutive defeats. Dortmund lost two games back to back in the Bundesliga, 1-2 away at VFL Wolfsburg and 0-3 at home to champions FC Bayern München. The defeat to Bayern was hard to take for Dortmund, with Mario Götze, who had left the club for Munich at the end of the previous season scoring on his first return to the club. Sandwiched between the two domestic defeats was a 0-1 home loss to Arsenal in the Champions League, a result that threw Group F wide open. Dortmund managed to put an end to their losing streak at the end of November with a 3-1 away win against Coach Jürgen Klopp’s former side, FSV Mainz 05.
December 2013 will most likely be a month that the majority of Borussia Dortmund fans will want to forget, on the domestic front at least. The month started with a 2-0 win over 1 FC Saarbrücken in the DFB Pokal, but was followed by a 0-1 home defeat to Bayer 04 Leverkusen and finished with another home defeat, this time 1-2 to promoted Hertha Berlin.
Between these two domestic defeats was a last minute 2-1 victory over Olympique Marseille in their final Champions League group game. Kevin Großkreutz scored the winning goal in the 87th minute to send Dortmund through to the knock-out stages and Napoli in to the Europa League. The heroics in France were followed by a disappointing 2-2 draw away at TSG 1899 Hoffenheim.
The final whistle following the defeat to Hertha brought to an end of the first half of the Bundesliga season, something Jürgen Klopp must have secretly been delighted about. The Dortmund defence had been ripped apart with injuries to Mats Hummels and Neven Subotić, the latter suffering a season ending injury. Dortmund had also been without influential midfielder Ilkay Gündoğan since September after he suffered a back injury during an international friendly for Germany. Gündoğan would be another player who would ultimately miss the rest of the season, and his lack of presence was clearly being felt on the pitch. There were also some pluses throughout the first half of the season, most notably the emergence of youngsters Erik Durm and Marian Sarr. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang had settled in very well to life at the club and Henrikh Mkhitaryan was slowly beginning to influence games more.
Jürgen Klopp made one significant signing during the winter transfer window, bringing in Serbian midfielder Miloš Jojić from Partizan Belgrade for €2,000,000.
The second half of the season started poorly for Dortmund, twice throwing away the lead to draw 2-2 with FC Augsburg. Dortmund did finish January with a victory, a hard fought 2-1 win against Eintracht Braunschweig.
February started with a 5-1 away win against SV Werder Bremen, with Manuel Friedrich scoring his first goal for the club and Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Robert Lewandowski both grabbing a brace. Dortmund then faced a difficult trip to Eintracht Frankfurt in the quarter finals of the DFB Pokal, which they won 1-0 thanks to a late headed goal from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Four days later Dortmund hosted the same opposition in the Bundesliga, making lighter work of this encounter, winning 4-0. This particular match will be remembered for debutant Miloš Jojić’s first goal for the club, which came just seventeen seconds after he had replaced Henrikh Mkhitaryan, and with his first touch in a Borussia Dortmund shirt. It has been reported as the fastest goal scored by a Bundesliga débutante, though it was four seconds too slow to be the fastest goal ever by a substitute. Dortmund ended the domestic month with a very disappointing 0-3 defeat at the hands of Hamburger SV. Die Rothosen (The Red Shorts) were full of energy in Mirko Slomka’s first game in charge and fully deserved their victory. Dortmund’s last game in February saw the return of the Champions League, and a potentially tricky tie away in Russia against Zenit St. Petersburg. Two goals in the opening five minutes from Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Marco Reus put Dortmund 2-0 up, and despite a fight back from Zenit, Dortmund won the game 4-2, giving the club one foot in the quarter finals.
March started with a comfortable 3-0 home win over 1 FC Nürnberg. Mats Hummels, who had spent a large part of the season out injured, was amongst the goal scorers. The following match day was greeted with a belter from Sebastian Kehl, his first goal of the season, securing all three points against SC Frieburg. Dortmund lost their next Bundesliga match 1-2 at home against Borussia Mönchengladbach. Die Fohlen (The Foals) were the only side to beat Dortmund home and away in the Bundesliga. A first home defeat of the season in the Champions League followed, with Dortmund losing 1-2 to Zenit St. Petersburg, though they progressed to the quarter finals 5-4 on aggregate. The month of March ended with three Bundesliga games in the space of seven days. Dortmund were victorious in two of them, away at Hannover 96 (3-0) and VFB Stuttgart (3-2). Sandwiched between the two away games was the Revierderby at home to FC Schalke 04, which ended 0-0, Dortmund’s only goalless draw of the season. Marco Reus ended March in fine form, scoring once against Hannover and a hat-trick against Stuttgart.
April started with Dortmund’s worst forty five minutes of the season, where they found themselves 0-3 down at half-time in the first leg of their Champions League quarter final away to Real Madrid. Although Dortmund improved in the second half, the damage was already done and qualification for the semi-final looked almost impossible. Dortmund did manage to pick themselves up from this defeat and came back from 0-1 down in their next match against VFL Wolfsburg to win 2-1.The following mid-week saw the second leg of the Champions League quarter final against Real Madrid. The game started at a slow pace, but after Angel Di Maria missed a penalty to put Madrid 0-1 up on the night, Dortmund, and in particular Marco Reus, sprang in to life. Dortmund won 2-0 on the night courtesy of a brace from Marco Reus, and could quite easily have won by a greater margin. Sadly the first forty five minutes of the first leg back to haunt Dortmund and they were eliminated from the competition 2-3 on aggregate.
Buoyed by the win against Madrid, Dortmund went in to their next game, away at newly crowned Bundesliga Champions FC Bayern München in confident mood, and it showed as they ran out easy 3-0 victors. It could be argued that Bayern weren’t 100% focused on this particular fixture, having already wrapped up the league title and with a Champions League semi-final against Dortmund’s victors Real Madrid on the horizon. That wouldn’t have dampened the player’s spirits though, as they had their own big game coming up, the DFB Pokal semi-final at home against VFL Wolfsburg.
The semi-final wasn’t the most entertaining of matches, but goals from Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Robert Lewandowski saw Dortmund through 2-0 and booked their place in the final, where they would face FC Bayern München.
Marco Reus was on target again the following Bundesliga match day, when Dortmund defeated FSV Mainz 05 4-2 at home, with the other goals coming from Robert Lewandowski, Łukasz Piszczek and Miloš Jojić. An entertaining 2-2 draw away at Bayer 04 Leverkusen followed with goals from Oliver Kirch, his first for the club, and a Marco Reus penalty, the latter ensuring that Reus scored in every Bundesliga game during the month of April. The draw at the Bay Arena also ensured that Borussia Dortmund would finish the season in second place in the Bundesliga.
May began with the final home fixture of the season against TSG 1899 Hoffenheim. Prior to kick-off both Manuel Friedrich and Robert Lewandowski were presented with flowers and a montage commemorating each player’s time at the club, as this would be both players final home game in a Dortmund shirt. Robert Lewandowski also received a standing ovation from all four corners of the stadium when he was replaced in stoppage time at the end of the second half. Unfortunately the Polish international couldn’t mark his final home game with a goal, but Dortmund did win the match 3-2. Dortmund travelled to Berlin for the final league game of the season to face Hertha. Robert Lewandowski scored twice, including a rare free kick to finish the season as the Bundesliga’s top goal scorer with twenty goals as Dortmund ran out comfortable 4-0 winners.
Dortmund went into the cup final in good form, having won seven of their last eight games in all competitions. The final wasn’t a classic and will be remembered for the ‘goal’ which wasn’t awarded to Dortmund’s Mats Hummels, which would have put Die Borussen 1-0 up. The goal wasn’t given, despite the ball clearly being over the line before it was cleared by Bayern’s Brazilian defender Dante. Bayern eventually won the final 0-2 after extra time to secure the league and cup double, courtesy of goals from Arjen Robben and Thomas Müller.
Despite the obvious disappointment of losing the cup final and finishing nineteen points behind Bayern in the Bundesliga table, this season, on the whole, has been very enjoyable for fans of Borussia Dortmund. Indeed, had the team not been deprived of so many key players due to lengthy injuries, who knows what Jürgen Klopp’s team could have achieved?