The Hinründe wasn't the most favorable to Borussia Dortmund in 2013. Injuries did the most damage to Jürgen Klopp's team, but bad business from the board in the summer kept BVB from adding some much needed depth to the squad. However, all hope is not lost yet. The Rückrunde is upon us, and BVB look prepared to fight for their spot in next season's Champions League.
What Went Right
Advanced in the Champions League
Somehow... Someway... Borussia Dortmund figure out a way to get out of their Champions League group. In fact, they did it and finished at the top of the group. It looked like all hope was lost heading into the final matchday, but a last minute goal from fan favorite Kevin Großkreutz put Die Schwarzgelben into the knockout rounds for the second straight year. With their league campaign coming off the rails, it was necessary for BVB to find their feet beneath them. They have to be pleased with their Round of 16 draw. Zenit St. Petersburg is a very beatable team.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Pierre Aubameyang
Borussia Dortmund invested the Mario Götze money by bringing in Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Pierre Aubameyang. Talk about money well spent. Mkhitaryan has 3 goals and 5 assists while Aubameyang has 9 goals and 1 assist. Both players have transitioned very well to the Bundesliga and have been combining well with Marco Reus and Robert Lewandowski. Dortmund's success over the next few seasons is going to rest heavily on the shoulders on these two, but they'll have ample opportunity to prove themselves through the spring. They're going to have a battle on their hands to advance in the Pokal and Champions League. However, it's more important that BVB figure out how to secure qualification for next season's Champions League. They have their work cut out for them.
What Went Wrong
Shall we list players that have missed significant time for Borussia Dortmund this season due to injury?
- Mats Hummels - Ankle
- Neven Subotic - Knee
- Marcel Schmelzer - Calf
- Lukasz Piszczek - Hip
- Ilkay Gundogan - Back
You can't lose the spine of your team for long stretches. You can't be without your starting defense for almost the entire year. You won't be very successful. Somehow, Dortmund managed to remain in a Champions League place in the league while advancing to the quarterfinals of the DFB Pokal and the knockout rounds of the Champions League. Credit must be given to Jürgen Klopp for figuring out a way to keep his side challenging for at least two trophies. It's safe to say the league is out of their reach at this point.
Twelve Points Behind Bayern Munich
Jürgen Klopp didn't want a repeat of last season's performance in the league when Bayern Munich finished 25 points ahead of Borussia Dortmund. Well, Bayern currently have a twelve point lead over BVB and a game in hand. BVB lost three matches in a row at home for the first time in years and limped into the winter break. Few clubs needed the time away from the field more than BVB.
Still Losing Robert Lewandowski For Free
Dortmund took a big risk in not selling Robert Lewandowski to Bayern Munich last summer. After selling Mario Götze, the hope was that by refusing to sell Lewandowski, he would help them qualify for the Champions League once again. Then, he may reconsider wanting to go to Bayern Munich and choose another destination, or he may decide to stay in Dortmund altogether. Well, we now know that Lewandowski will be going to Bayern on a free transfer in six months, and BVB will be in a fight until the end this season to qualify for the Champions League. I said at the time that they should sell him and reinvest that money in the squad, and I still believe that my opinion on that is correct.
Second Half Outlook
Borussia Dortmund have the talent to finish in a Champions League place for next season, but it remains to be seen if they can find their health and accomplish it. Their advancement in the knockout stages of the Champions League could actually hamper their progress in the league, so we should be sure to keep an eye on that.