Borussia Dortmund moved provisionally to the top of the Bundesliga table on Tuesday night, after they thrashed Wolfsburg 5-1 at the Volkswagen Arena. It marked a continuation of prolific scoring from Thomas Tuchel’s side, who hammered Legia Warsaw 6-0 in their Champions League opener, only to match that against Darmstadt on the weekend. Impressive stuff indeed.
Before you get too carried away, there are a couple of mitigating factors. The first is that they’ve consecutively come up against three unconvincing defenses; the second is that the statistics suggest their win over Wolfsburg was actually more a matter of clinical finishing than dominance across the field, as evidenced in the expected goals chart that amazingly had the hosts ahead:
With all that still in mind, Dortmund are no doubt looking like a force to be reckoned with. In their big win over Darmstadt, Tuchel took the opportunity to rest a handful of his most important players: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Mario Götze were among those benched in the win at the Westfalenstadion. But in a sublime demonstration of their depth, they still managed to bring in the likes of Gonzalo Castro who finished the game with two goals and an assist to his name.
As for the team's mainstays, midfielders Julian Weigl and Raphaël Guerreiro are both looking excellent talents indeed. The sturdy Weigl, 21, invariably keeps things ticking over from his position deep in the midfield, with a steady presence in possession and better defensive skills than he’s credited for; the dynamic Guerreiro, 22, has brought the energy of a full back to a new shuttling midfield role, with Tuchel reaping the rewards of his creative tinkering with how well the Portuguese player has taken to the role. Their styles complement each other magnificently, giving license to the third central midfielder — usually Götze — to drift around in search of pockets of space to exploit in attack. It works well now, and it’s only going to get better.
What’s more, over the coming weeks and months we're only going to see more of teenagers Ousmane Dembélé, Emre Mor, and budding American star Christian Pulisic, who could well be regular features of Dortmund’s attack for years. If any good can come from losing Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Ilkay Gündogan, it’s that their spots are being filled by youngsters who may have otherwise been kicking their heels in the reserves. In the long run, it’s both player and club who will benefit.
And so while recent scorelines have been kind to Dortmund, you still have a lot of reason to be afraid. Tuchel’s team is loaded with some of Europe’s top young talent, and they appear to work wonderfully within the coach’s system. If they’re able to keep things together over the next few years, they could find themselves once again vying with Bayern Munich for German supremacy.