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1- Jürgen Klopp
Is there a more likeable manager in world football than Jürgen Klopp?
Since Klopp came to Dortmund in 2008 he has dramatically improved a team that was only a few years earlier close to folding. He made shrewd signings such as Pizczek (on a free) Hummels (discarded by Bayern), Subotic (came from Mainz with Klopp) and numerous others. He transformed the team over just a few years, finishing sixth and fifth in his first two seasons. Then came the trophies, the first was a Dfl Supercup, beating Bayern in the final in 2008. It was clear he had certainly changed things for good. This is where his status elevated to a legend, from there he won two consecutive Bundesliga trophies and a German Cup last year, beating Bayern emphatically 5-2.
Everything is likeable about Klopp, his team’s style, his touchline passion, his relationship with the players and fans. He actually says interesting things in interviews unlike most managers of today. He is too good for any other team in modern football today, by that I mean if he leaves Dortmund, where is there that would match him so perfectly as Dortmund do. I just can’t imagine him working under a Russian Oligarch or a Saudi Sheikh. But undoubtedly he will leave sometime, just hopefully not for a while yet. Hopefully we will see a Klopp Guardiola rivalry for a few years at least.
2- Dortmund’s style
A large reason so many neutrals have started enjoying and therefore followed die Scharzgelben is because of their aesthetically pleasing football. They attack quickly through quick passing and the front four combine to great affect. Add to that a great centre-back partnership in Subotic and Hummels, plus the ever reliable Pizczek and Schmelzer who both provide great attacking width. They link well with Kuba and Reus and allow both the two attackers to drift inside. Gündogan has grown massively in the past two years, his midfield performances have been so good Klopp didn’t put Nuri Sahin straight back in the team upon his return. Weidenfeller has been excellent too, yet has still not been called up for the German National team.
Dortmund combine fast, incisive attacking when on the ball with a tremendous pressing off it. Similar to Barcelona in many ways, although Dortmund tend to attack a bit quicker when they have the ball. In the final it is likely Bayern will dominate possession, Dortmund will have to counter-attack, taking up space that Bayern leave. Problem is for Dortmund Bayern have no real weak spots. If Van Buyten plays, it could be him who Dortmund target as he’s the weakest of the centre-backs.
3- A one off chance/ The Underdogs?
It has taken Dortmund time to build their team and now that they have reached fruition as shown by being in the Champions League final, naturally the big teams are now circling for many of Dortmund’s finest. Götze is already off, Lewandowski almost sure to go with him. Hummels and Gündogan are the latest linked with moves away from the Westfalenstadion. So if Dortmund don’t take this opportunity how long will it be before they are back in with a chance with such a great first eleven as is currently the case. Unlike Bayern who will be appearing in their third final in four years, Dortmund haven’t got to the final since last time they won it, in 1997. It’s hard to envisage Dortmund appearing so frequently in finals over the coming years.
Bayern Munich are a very likeable team, they play well, are well run, although that really goes without saying as it’s generally the case throughout the Bundesliga. They have masses of money compared to the rest of the league, this is what makes it such an incredible achievement Dortmund have surpassed even them, the mighty Bayern in the previous two years. Dortmund’s financial restraints are a thing Bayern never have to worry about. In a way though Dortmund must be thankful for Bayern’s vast wealth as the Bavarians loaned them around €2M back in 2003 when Dortmund were in financial turmoil.
At the start of this season Bayern paid €40m for Javi Martinez, while Dortmund paid €17m for Marco Reus although this was unusual, it was their biggest transfer since Márcio Amoroso back in 2001, a Bundesliga record at the time. Bayern actually failed in trying to sign Reus who chose his boyhood club instead. This was after Dortmund had just won the double, so more money was coming in, prior to that Klopp had only paid small fees for what have turned out to be very talented players, Lewandowski only €4.5m, Kagawa better still was only €350,000. Whoever Dortmund’s scout is, he is deserving of a new contract after his work of the last few years.
4- Götze’s parting gift
Just over 24 hours prior to Dortmund’s emphatic 4-1 victory over Real Madrid the news broke of Mario Götze’s impending summer transfer. It was the worst news at possibly the worst time. Maybe only the day before the Champions League final against Götze’s new team could have been worse. Klopp took Götze to one side before the game and helped get him prepared for what he may face. It worked! Götze provided the assist for the first of Lewandowski’s four and didn’t seem affected by the news, nor did the team as a whole.
This transfer was shocking as there had been no rumours of it coming and because Götze has been at Dortmund since he was a kid. It was not surprising that Bayern bought one of the best players in the Bundesliga, they have been doing this for years. But this transfer took someone right at the heart of Dortmund to their rivals. It showed a lack of loyalty on Götze’s part, which is disappointing, maybe he thought Dortmund had gone as far as they could and the lure of playing for Bayern and under the tutelage of Pep Guardiola was too hard to resist. I have since heard that Götze turned down a mammoth offer from Man City that would have been more lucrative, whether this is true or not it’s something to be thankful for that it didn’t happen.
5- The best fans in the world?
Another aspect of what makes Dortmund so likeable to a neutral are their fans, thanks in part to having a 80,000 capacity, less in European competitions. Built for the 1974 World Cup, Westfalenstadion is a perfect stadium for football, stands tight to the pitch unlike so many stadiums with a mixture of terracing and seating. The South Stand (Südtribüne) is where most of the noise emanates, holding 25,000 fans I suppose it shouldn’t be such a surprise. The banners too (see before the Malaga game) make it a great sight panning round at each stand before and during a game.
For the final Dortmund have had 500,000 apply for it tickets, sadly only 24,000 are available to Dortmund and Bayern, with 27,000 going to UEFA sponsors, therefore only suppressing the all German atmosphere. Borussia Dortmund’s popularity naturally has risen with the success they have achieved in the last few years, although Bayern still dominate when it comes to fans, with further success Dortmund’s fan base will naturally only increase further.
Various international players over recent seasons have further propelled Dortmund’s following outside of Germany. Due to Pizczek, Lewandowski and national captain Blaszczykowski Dortmund have become more popular in Poland, I have even heard of them being referred to as Polonia Dortmund. Shinji Kagawa has also definitely helped get them more attention in Japan too.
So this Saturday night, let’s hope for a yellow glow radiating in the London sky.
Harry is the man behind the A Random Ball blog.