Many considered the 2014-15 season as a disaster for Borussia Dortmund. During the winter period, they languished at the bottom of the Bundesliga table on several occasions and only managed a seventh place finish at the end of the season. In the UEFA Champions League, they were comfortably dispatched 5-1 on aggregate by Juventus in the round of 16.
Manager Jurgen Klopp, a fan favorite who had delivered the club’s first ever domestic double and was one match away from the coveted UEFA Champions League trophy, decided to leave the club after seven years at the club.
Important first team starters such as Mats Hummels and Marco Reus were considering their options elsewhere, with Manchester United and Bayern Munich showing strong interest in the respective players. With the sales of world class talents Robert Lewandowski and Mario Gotze to direct rivals Bayern in previous seasons, many felt that this was the end of an era.
However, to their credit Dortmund managed to keep both Hummels and Reus in the team and have strengthened their squad through the loan signing of promising Manchester United youngster Adnan Januzaj as well as the purchase of experienced utility man Gonzalo Castro from Bayer Leverkusen.
As a result, they have started off the 2015-16 campaign in imperious form, storming through the Europa League qualifiers and topping the Bundesliga table five weeks into the season with dominant wins over Leverkusen as well as arch rivals Borussia Monchengladbach, who finished an impressive third in the Bundesliga last season.
After unsuccessful stints abroad, Shinji Kagawa and Nuri Sahin have returned to the club, leaving Dortmund with an embarassment of riches in the midfield position. After being trusted as the engine man in midfield after Sahin’s departure to Real Madrid 2011, Ilkay Gundogan has developed into one of the world’s finest in his position and has a telepathic understanding with fellow midfield general Sven Bender at the center of the park. Armenian Henrik Mkhitaryan remains a dangerous option in attacking midfield, while Adnan Januzaj needs no introduction.
Up front, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is one of the most explosive forwards in the game today. He has just come off his personal best season during 2014-15, scoring 16 goals in the Bundesliga and is looking more and more like the perfect replacement for Robert Lewandowski. With Marco Reus in support, this duo can mature into one of the most devastating strike forces in Germany. Colombian Adrian Ramos can’t be ignored either for a position in the starting XI.
Mats Hummels’ decision to stay put is extremely crucial, as this will mean that Dortmund will remain with one of the most experienced back-lines in the league. Neven Subotic forms a rock solid central defensive pairing with Hummels, while Lukasz Piszczek remains an extremely reliable option at right-back. Erik Durm is one of the most exciting prospects in Europe and will likely develop into a world class best left-back within a few years, and veteran Roman Weidenfeller remains a viable option between the sticks.
With much of the backbone from the side that performed so heroically during the 2011-2013 period retained, Dortmund now have the platform to return to where they once were. Key players from that team such as Hummels, Subotic, Sahin, Bender, Kagawa and Reus are now entering the prime of their careers and will be eager to show the world once again what they are capable of. Bayern Munich should be nervously looking over their shoulders, as Borussia Dortmund are back.