Anyone with an interest in German football – who isn’t also a fan of Bayern Munich – will currently be looking at Borussia Dortmund with the same level of wide-eyed hope usually reserved for the hero in a fantasy novel. The Schwarzgelben were the last club to keep the Bundesliga title from making its usual journey to Munich, and that was in 2012. Since then, “FC Hollywood” have taken it seven times in a row, and it’s usually not been a close contest. However, this Dortmund side are among the best in some time, and if the Big Bad are to be slayed this season, it’s the chaps from the Signal Iduna Park who are best placed to do it.
Fresh from a 5-1 trouncing of Augsburg on the opening day of the season, Lucien Favre and co. travel to Koln for this evening’s match having already opened up a two-point gap on the champions. Of course, just one week of the season has passed, so it’s about six months early to get too excited – but a win tonight against the Billy Goats, back in the top flight after a season of second-tier battling, would help fans to feel that Dortmund have the mental strength and clinical precision that they need to take the fight to Bayern, something that has been lacking in previous seasons.
Young attackers give Dortmund exciting dimension
Although not the only player in the first team to have celebrated his 30th birthday, Marco Reus is very much the elder statesman among the Dortmund attack. A former BVB trainee, he rejoined the club from Monchengladbach in the summer of 2012, stating that the club offered him the best chance of winning the Bundesliga. In the seven seasons since, he has had time to consider that position while watching Bayern dominate the podium, but with the wealth of quality young players now grouped around him in the yellow and black, this could be the club captain’s year to finally experience the glory he has dreamed of.
Reus may be the reliable hub of the attack, but with Paco Alcacer in front of him, and Jadon Sancho and Thorgan Hazard either side, he’s no longer required to carry the attack. Alcacer, who picked up a brace against Augsburg, is 7/2 to open the scoring tonight with 888. He certainly offers the best option for that task – a supply line of Sancho-Reus-Hazard would be a dream for any out-and-out striker to play in front of, and the Spaniard has shown his finishing ability time and time again in the famous yellow shirt, slotting 21 goals in his 30 games since moving from Barcelona.
Goals galore on the banks of the Rhein
Dortmund’s model of operation, both in finding players and deploying them tactically, has been so effective in recent years that English clubs have started importing managers from the club set-up in the hope that some of the magic will rub off. We’ve seen it work brilliantly with Jurgen Klopp at Liverpool, show signs of promise with Norwich’s Daniel Farke, well and then not so much with David Wagner at Huddersfield, and then bomb entirely with Jan Siewert at the same club – but then, the Terriers were never really financially equipped to live with the Premiership cash cows.
The key to this Dortmund model is fast, attacking football – and when it works, it’s both effective and an absolute joy to watch. In each of their last seven matches, BVB have scored at least twice. Interestingly, in Koln’s last six games, the Goats have conceded at least two goals. There is every reason to expect that there will be goals again tonight, especially with Dortmund still waiting on the return from injury of defenders Mateu Morey and Raphael Guerreiro – which makes Paddy Power’s 11/10 odds on >3.5 goals look a good bet.
Dortmund to make it six points from six
Koln are back in the top flight, and they gave a fine account of themselves before eventually losing last weekend against Wolfsburg. There is every reason to believe that, having suffered the shock of relegation in 2018, they’ll be street-smart enough to pick up points where necessary and consolidate their position in the Bundesliga. However, tonight’s visit from a side with the talent to become champions is not a match they’ll have been targeting as a likely source of points before the season kicked off.
For Dortmund, on the other hand, this is a game they realistically need to be winning if they are to shake off the disappointments of years gone past. An early accumulation of points will give them the best chance of leading from the front and holding off the seemingly invincible Bayern, and this match represents a chance to lay down a marker. It’s one they dare not lose, and we fancy Ladbrokes’ odds of 9/1 on the visiting side here to leave with a 3-1 win, securing another three points.