Borussia Dortmund may have conquered the Bundesliga the last two years, but European success still eludes this team and observers will not let them forget it. So BVB have Mario Gotze, Mats Hummels, Neven Subotic and Robert Lewandowski? Big deal. What have they done with that talent against the best?
To say such a thing about the back-to-back Bundesliga champions after just one foray into Europe sounds blasphemous, but after last season's embarrassment, can Dortmund compete at the highest level is one of the more prevalent questions heading into this year's Champions League.
A year ago, Dortmund were grouped with Arsenal, Olympique Marseille and Olympiacos last year, which was hardly murderer's row, and yet they finished dead last in the group. They were outscored 8-3 away from the Westfalenstadion and couldn't even impress before their 80,000 adoring fans, winning just once and allowing as many goals as they scored at home.
With another Bundesliga title under their belt and last year's failure still hanging over their heads, Dortmund are being asked to prove that they can cut it in Europe. Luckily for them, they get a soft introduction to this year's tournament.
Ajax will visit the Wastfalenstadion on Tuesday for a match-up that BVB could not be happier about. The Eredivisie champions sold off Jan Vertonghen, Vurnon Anita and Gregory van der Wiel this summer so while they may still have the brilliant Christian Eriksen and Siem de Jong, the rest of the team can often look like nine headless chickens running in circles around them.
The talent is still there for Dortmund. So is the quality that delivered them the last two Bundesliga titles. But will they show up in Europe? There is no reason to believe they won't, but there was no reason for last year's last place finish either.
Three points should be a given against an overmatched opponent at home, but Dortmund's challenge on Tuesday is greater than that. It is about showing that their young core is as up to the task in the Champions League as they are in the Bundesliga, capable of showing the verve, command and calm that Germany has admired for the last 25 months.
Match Date/Time: Tuesday, 2:45 p.m. ET, 8:45 p.m. local
Venue: Westfalenstadion, Dortmund, Germany
TV: DirecTV Soccer (U.S.), Sportsnet World Plus (Canada), Sky Sports Red Button (UK)
Online: Fox Soccer 2Go (U.S.)