Borussia Dortmund attempt to break Bayern Munich’s stranglehold of the Bundesliga was kickstarted with a 6-0 hammering of Darmstadt 98 at the Westfalenstadion. A brace from Gonzalo Castro along with strikes from Adrian Ramos, Christian Pulisic, Sebastian Rode and Emre Mor handed Thomas Tuchel’s men their second emphatic victory of the week.
Dortmund had also put six goals past Legia Warsaw in their Champions League opener three days earlier to get firing in front of goal again after being shut out by RB Leipzig. BVB suffered a shock defeat at the hands of the Die Bullen as Naby Keita struck an 89th-minute winner to secure the three points for the newly-promoted outfit.
The result left Tuchel’s men needing a victory to avoid falling further behind Bayern, and they duly delivered, although the task remains an uphill challenge to overthrow Carlo Ancelotti’s side at the top. In the latest Bet365 Bundesliga betting odds Dortmund are backed at 7/1 to triumph for the first time since the 2011/12 season.
Winning the league would be a remarkable feat given the turmoil the club endured over the summer as three key players Mats Hummels, Ilkay Gundogan and Henrikh Mkhitaryan left the Westfalenstadion. Mario Gotze, Andre Schurrle, Marc Bartra, Mor and Rode were among the names were brought in to fill the void.
Gotze was one of the rare cases to move back from Bayern having been unable to secure regular football at the Allianz Arena in his three years at the club. Tuchel plugged the 24-year-old into the team to fill the void of the departed Gundogan against Leipzig where he struggled, although he rebounded with his best performance of 2016 in the demolition of Legia Warsaw.
One of the main factors in a potential push for the Bundesliga crown will be the form of Gotze. The German international’s career stalled during his time with Bayern as he was shunted around the team, being used in several different positions, including as a central striker. Pep Guardiola persisted with him in the role, where he has also been deployed for Die Mannschaft.
He has not suited the position, often dropping too deep to search for possession rather than making runs in behind the defence. Gotze’s best attribute is his passing ability and Tuchel has sought to use him behind either Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang or Adrian Ramos in attack, which in time will bring out the best in the 24-year-old.
Should the midfielder get back to his peak form he can be the driving force for a surge towards the title as Dortmund have enough attacking talent such as Marco Reus, Ousmane Dembele, Schurrle, Pulisic, Mor and Castro to keep scoring pace with Bayern at the top.
The one area of concern for Tuchel will be at the back, with Hummels potentially being the difference between the two clubs in the race for the Bundesliga crown. Bartra was brought in to replace the Germany international, but was only a squad player in his time at Barcelona. The question of whether he can raise the level of his game for the entire season to keep opposing forwards at bay will play a huge factor in Dortmund’s bid to end Bayern’s dominance.