Borussia Dortmund are optimistic heading into the new season. With a new coach and plenty of highly talented players BVB look to be ready to go, even if the squad isn't perfect just yet.
When introducing this year's squad to 30,000 odd fans in Borussia Dortmund's stadium recently, new head coach Lucien Favre was the last man out but was met with perhaps the loudest cheer. The 60-year-old, a little shyly, but with a huge grin, high-fived his way through the BVB guard of honor. "A great feeling," the new head coach said later. Not a man to take center stage, Favre would rather deliver pithy words or charge on his troops - that's what fans and journalists will be expecting during his time anyway.
Bürki: "He's a perfectionist"
In all of Favre's previous jobs, in Zurich, Berlin, Mönchengladbach or most recently Nice, that much was the case. In fact, once the Swiss starts talking about his tactics or his philosophy, he's hard to stop.
"We want to play intelligent and control (the play), to play very, very high," Favre explained at his unveiling. "We also have to counter, that's important. A team that can't counterattac is not a great team."
Favre and his staff have been working for weeks on ensuring that Borussia Dortmund have a "great team" on the pitch for the start of the season.
"He's a perfectionist," goalkeeper Roman Bürki said. "That's exactly what we need."
Preseason winners: Götze and Dahoud
Marco Reus, who knows Favre from their days at Borussia Mönchengladbach, regards the Swiss as one of the best coaches he has ever played for, and together they are bound to be two of the most important cornerstones of the club in 2018-19. It was under Favre that another former Gladbach man, Mahmoud Dahoud, broke into the Bundesliga.
"He hasn't really changed. Only slightly in terms of football," Dahoud said of the new head coach. The 22-year-old, along with a rejuvinated Mario Götze, impressed in preseason. Dortmund's midfield, even if a little too full, is the heart of this team.
That group also includes Thomas Delaney and Axel Witsel. Even if Witsel only recently joined the team, Favre's top transfer target could well beclome the fulcrum of the midfield. "We have a lot of midfielders, but that just pushes you to your top level," the Belgian said. "I have no problem with competition. That's part of the job at a top club."
With the likes of Julian Weigl, Nuri Sahin, Shinji Kagawa, Sergio Gomez and Sebastian Rode also an option, Dortmund's midfield has plenty of quality to choose from.
Striker search continues
A potential weak spot for Dortmund this season could be defense. The central defense is to be formed by Manuel Akanji, Abdou Diallo, Dan-Axel Zagadou or Ömer Toprak - players who still have to get to know each other. That communication isn't perfect yet was obvious in the preseason games against Zurich and Napoli. The wingback positions are be be filled by two familiar faces: Marcel Schmelzer and Lukasz Piszczek. It's very possible that Bürki will have to iron out a few communication issues as a result of his new defenders.
But where will the goals come from? Favre tends to react to such questions with a smile. Dortmund don't have the kind of striker they once had, in the form of Robert Lewandowski, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang or Michy Batshuayi. Instead, Favre will be building on the talents of Christian Pulisic, Maximilian Philipp, or Reus. One of the biggest surprises of preseason was winger Jacob Bruun Larsen, but BVB will have to wait before using him after the 19-year-old recently picked up a foot injury.
Reus: 'We're well prepared'
After the disappointment of last season, sporting director Michael Zorc and Sebastian Kehl, now working rather than playing for the club, have responded and turned the club inside out. The squad is full of talent, but still has enough experience about it to make the right decisions on and off the pitch in critical moments. It's a good mix, one that with a good head coach will certainly be near the top of the table.
"We're well prepared for the season ahead," Reus said at the team's unveiling. His teammates shared the same excitement. Whether it'll be enough for the Bundesliga title, as Leverkusen's head Heiko Herrlich has suggested it might be, is doubtful. But the fun that was lost in Dortmund last season appears set to make its return to this football-mad city.