Borussia Dortmund Season Review: The Gap Closes

Borussia Dortmund season review
DORTMUND, GERMANY - MAY 11: Thomas Delaney of Borussia Dortmund, Julian Weigl of Borussia Dortmund, Maximilian Philipp of Borussia Dortmund, Paco Alcacer of Borussia Dortmund and Axel Witsel of Borussia Dortmund celebrate after winning the Bundesliga match between Borussia Dortmund and Fortuna Duesseldorf at Signal Iduna Park on May 11, 2019 in Dortmund, Germany. (Photo by TF-Images/Getty Images)

In this Borussia Dortmund season review, we will be taking a closer look at Die Schwarzgelben. After barely finishing fourth last season, Dortmund entered this time around with realistic expectations. A new manager and some new faces, this season was considered by many to be a transition year. This wasn’t the case, it’s time to take an in-depth look at how the clubs season panned out.

Borussia Dortmund Season Review: The Gap Closes

Nine-Point Lead

Entering the season, Dortmund had a new manager in Lucien Favre. The 61-year-old Swiss manager took charge of a young team, tasked with building and shaping a new era at the club. A new improved Dortmund squad was never expected to compete with the likes of Bayern Munich this season.

However, a strong start put Die Roten on the back foot early on. Winning six of their first eight games, a young, vibrant Dortmund side was exceeding all expectations. Unbeaten until mid-December, the team topped the table, nine points clear by the winter break.

Topping the table for 18 consecutive matchdays, Dortmund were in good shape. However, the second half of the season was a different story. Three consecutive draws in early February saw the team’s confidence drop. Injury problems and a lack of momentum opened the door for Bayern.

An unexpected loss to Augsburg made matters worse, as the team would drop to second just one week later. Meanwhile, in Munich, Bayern were hitting their stride at exactly the right time. In their last 14 games, Bayern went unbeaten, winning 11 and drawing three.

Dortmund fell victim to this incredible run, including a 5-0 loss to their main title rivals. A 4-2 loss to bitter rivals Schalke was the final straw for Dortmund, as the team failed to keep up with Bayern’s absurd pace to end the season.

Crucial Summer Signings

Despite the end result, Dortmund’s season had many positives. The club backed Favre in the transfer market, bringing in several key players. Spending £81.45 million on five new players, the team had the depth to mount a title challenge.

Signing midfield anchor Axel Witsel, the club has a player who can control the middle of the pitch. A superb passer and physical presence, Witsel was crucial to the team’s success this season. The 30-year-old Belgian has arguably been the signing of the season.

Next to Witsel, the team needed a tough, hard-working midfielder. Danish midfielder Thomas Delaney is a vital player for the team. Not afraid to do the dirty work in the middle, the former Bremen player played his role well. The club signed both players for just £36 million, a bargain in today’s market.

Controlling the midfield is one thing, but every club needs goals and Dortmund got them from one of their summer signings. Bringing in Spanish forward Paco Alcácer, the club secured a poacher who played a key role all season long.

Known as a super sub, Alcácer averaged a goal every 67 minutes in the Bundesliga. Joining on loan, the Spaniard made his move permanent during the winter break. The clubs spending helped elevate them this season, something they hope to do again next season. Set to sign Nico Schulz, Thorgan Hazard and Julian Brandt, the club is getting its business done early.

Overachievers

This season saw Borussia Dortmund massively overachieve. Considering where this team was last season, the club can be proud of their efforts. Despite the disappointing result, Dortmund finished second, just one season after barely securing a fourth-place finish on goal difference. The 2017/18 season saw Dortmund finish the season with just 55 points. A below par season for the club, the group needed to improve.

The 2018-19 season saw Favre’s team earn a much improved 76 points and a second place finish. As the club continues to make progress, the gap between them and Bayern has closed significantly. Scoring more and conceding less, Dortmund found themselves doing something nobody saw coming. The team was involved in a title race in a transition year. A perennial member of the top four, they never fell outside of the Champions League places.

Dortmund’s season was derailed by injuries, a reliance on momentum and Bayern being Bayern. This was still a great season for a young group of players who will be back for more next season.

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