Borussia Dortmund won their first ever domestic double on Saturday after their 5-2 thrashing of Bayern Munich in the DFB Pokal Final. The win capped an incredible, record-setting season for Dortmund.
BVB becomes just the fourth different club to win the double since the creation of the Bundesliga in 1963. Bayern have won it eight times while Werder Bremen and Köln have each won it once. The double in Germany has only been accomplished once every (roughly) 4.5 years, usually by Bayern. Six of Bayern's eight doubles have come since the 1999-2000 season.
One of the major criticisms of BVB in the previous year was their inability to convert their numerous scoring chances into more goals. This season saw a vast improvement in that category. Dortmund scored 67 goals on their way to the 2010-11 Bundelisga championship. They increased their tally to an impressive 80 in their defense of the title this season.
How good was BVB this year? In 34 league matches they amassed a Bundesliga record 81 points. The previous record was held by Bayern Munich, who finished on 79 points in both the 1971-72 and 1972-73 seasons. That Bayern team featured such legends as Franz Beckenbauer, Sepp Maier, Uli Hoeneß, and Gerd Müller. Beating their record is impressive.
So, we're looking at a young-ish team that has won now won back-to-back Bundesliga titles, a DFB Pokal and the club's first ever double in addition to setting the record for the most points ever earned in a single Bundesliga season. BVB have also won their last five matches against Bayern Munich, and they are unbeaten in their last four league matches against archrival Schalke. Yikes.
How Did They Do It This Year?
A Fantastic Polish-Born Striker Who Wants To Play For Poland
Robert Lewandowski was asked to step in at the beginning of season as a replacement for the injured Lucas Barrios. The feeling was that Lewandowski had the skill but may not be ready to lead the front line on a team with goals of retaining their league title and challenging in Europe. Oh, how that opinion looks silly in hindsight. Lewandowski scored 22 goals on his way to winning the Bundesliga Player of the Year award, finishing the season with 30 goals in all competitions, the most by a Dortmund player in over 45 years. BVB are now so confident in his ability now that they were willing to sell Barrios to a club in China.
Lewandowski's agent is holding off from signing BVB's offer of a contract extension in preparation for this summer's European Championships. Is it possible that Lewandowski has a fantastic tournament and has a mega-bid come in for him this summer?
Kagawa The Sublime
Lewandowski's fine form was enhanced by the outlandishly excellent play of Shinji Kagawa. The Japanese international finished the season with an amazing 13 goals and nine assists from midfield. His flair has made him a fan favorite, and his talent has brought the eye of the world's biggest clubs. Kagawa's quick movements and thinking paid dividends against Bayern in the final when he latched onto a loose ball, took one touch, and played Lewandowski in behind the back line - naturally, the striker found the net. Kagawa won't be playing in the Bundesliga next season (he is expected to join Manchester United), but he will be remembered fondly for his two seasons in a BVB shirt.
Kuba Comes Up Huge
The big injury bug never struck BVB this season. Well, it did, but it didn't. Mario Götze went down with a few injuries this season, including a fractured pubic bone. Götze's lengthy layoff --- 15 matches --- should have doomed the club's chances at retaining their championship. Luckily for Dortmund, they were able to deploy their secret weapon: Jakub Blaszczykowski. Kuba, as he's affectionately known, grabbed the starting position and never looked back. He finished the season with six goals and eight assists, his most productive year in Dortmund. There were rumblings at the beginning of the season that Kuba would be looking to move on from BVB in the winter or this summer in search of more playing time, but he stuck it out and played well when they needed him the most.
Defense Wins Championships
If we go by the numbers, we know that the best defense hailed from Munich. If we go by what our eyes told us, we know the best defense were the boys in Dortmund. Neven Subotić and Mats Hummels make up arguably the finest centerback pairing in the world. They have a good mix of physicality and finesse that make them very effective against the top two goalscorers in the league. In six matches against Bayern Munich and Schalke during the 2011-2012 season (twice against both in the league, Schalke in the DFB Super Cup and Bayern in the DFB Pokal final), Mario Gomez and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar scored zero goals. The two forwards scored 55 goals against the rest of the league. Hummels and Subotic are constantly being linked with other clubs, but one must ask why they would be interested in leaving at this point. The two have formed an outstanding partnership and have the opportunity to anchor a great Dortmund backline for years to come. Both are only 23.
Oh Captain My Captain
Sebastian Kehl was named the captain of Borussia Dortmund in August 2008. His career has been plagued by injuries, but the 32-year-old midfielder fell into a terrible situation over the previous two seasons. He only played twelve matches. Total. Over two seasons. Many supporters were suggesting that it was time for the club to move on to the younger players such as Sven Bender and new signing İlkay Gündoğan, but Kehl battled through the hard times and featured in a total of 39 matches in the 2011-2012 season. His hard work to get back to the first team paid off when he was able to lift two trophies this season as the team captain.
Where Do They Go From Here?
Just like last summer, most Dortmund supporters will be hoping that nobody gets sold. We know that Barrios and Antonio Da Silva will be leaving the club. All indications now are that Kagawa will be taking his talents to Manchester ... United. Will anyone else be leaving? It won't be Mario Götze. The midfielder signed a long-term contract extension several weeks ago. Could Lewandowski or Hummels actually leave? I think they'll hang on to both players.
Marco Reus will be joining BVB from Borussia Mönchengladbach. While he won't be a straight replacement for Kagawa, Reus will be just another weapon for Jürgen Klopp to deploy in his arsenal.
Do you hear the knocking at your door, Bayern Munich? It's Borussia Dortmund, and they're threatening your domestic superiority.