Dortmund off to a great start, while Gladbach stutters

image_1Two games into the new Bundesliga season and things seem to be going good for some teams; for others, as expected and for another group it has been nothing short of disastrous and although it’s still early days there has to be some worry for certain teams, while others can be rightly overjoyed that they have hit the ground running.

Dortmund, in the first leg of their UEFA Europa league group stage qualifiers had a slight scare against ODD Bk. However, with the quintessence of champions they battled back from three [early] goals down to defeat the Norwegians 4-3 in Norway. Today, in the return leg against the same opponents, Dortmund overturned an early one-goal lead to trounce ODD 7-2. Not only have they been extremely convincing in their four continental games, they’ve also won every other official league and domestic cup game comfortably and utterly convincing.

Tuchel has managed to so far help Dortmund reignite the radiant style of football started by Jürgen Klopp with silky passing and cogent team defending. They’ve conceded a mere five goals from seven games and scored a whopping 27(!).

Initially, I was apprehensive that they would be a genuine threat to Bayern this season but based on their recent performances and Bayern’s semi-poor display at Hoffenheim at the weekend, there is some renewed hope that the Schwarzgelben can really put some pressure on the record league winners and based on their schedule they have a chance to really set the pace before they meet Bayern. The Bavarians have two challenging games ahead of them before they meet Dortmund on match day eight, including this weekend’s match up against Bayer Leverkusen, a team that appears to be hitting a new high after reversing a one-goal deficit against Lazio in the return leg of the Champions League play-off round. Munich is also expected to be without key defensive players for that game- Boateng was sent off last weekend and Benatia exited the pitch injured. The other potential danger game for the Munich team is against Wolfsburg on match day six. Dortmund’s schedule has them at home against Berlin this weekend, away to Hannover, at home to Leverkusen, away to Hoffenheim and then home to newly promoted Darmstadt before travelling to Munich. Based on their current form and their league timetable for the next five games before meeting the defending champs, Bayer Leverkusen is the only team that poses them any real threat.

borussia-dortmundWhile der BVB has been frighteningly wonderful, Borussia Mönchengladbach has been shockingly appalling. They were trounced 4-0 by Dortmund in the season opener and despite being an all around great performance for The Black and Yellows, die Fohlen were dreadful in defence and lacking creativity at the other end. At the weekend, against Mainz, they displayed the same apathy in defence and deficiency going forward. They’ve been sadly disappointing, losing their opening league games conceding six goals and scoring one. They need to turn things around soon and their schedule allows for just that. Their next five games are against: Bremen (A), Hamburg (H), Köln (A), Augsburg (H) and Stuttgart (A). Apart from Köln and Augsburg, the other teams all struggled last season and haven’t really started this season well.

Gladbach was today drawn alongside Juventus (last season’s finalist), Manchester City and Sevilla (last season’s Europa Cup winners) in group D of the Champions League. However, if this slump in form continues, I have qualms about them posing any danger to the other teams and it is already a tough group even for the form they displayed last season, which won them a third place finish in the league.

578341_heroaGladbach’s problem lies with them being a feeder club for other teams, both in the Bundesliga and around the continent. Added to that, they tend to build their core team around “borrowed” players. Kramer, for example, was key to their shape in midfield. He was the player that cut out opponents’ attacks, sprung counters and helped to control the game’s tempo. However, he returned to Leverkusen. Max Kruse, a crucial part of their attack, was sold to title challengers, Wolfsburg. His case represents an instance of a player who gets sold after a few impressive seasons. Such occurrences make it hard for die Fohlen to return to their former glory years of the 70’s and it will certainly take a toll on them in European competition.

Both Dortmund and Gladbach are for the moment at two different sides of the continuum- one sitting atop the table, while the other is rooted to the bottom. One team has to focus on keeping their form with the other having to focus on improving. It is, of course, very early in the season and BVB is capable of going all the way just as Favre is competent to lead his Gladbach team out of this slump.

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