Bundesliga: ′Top of the league by six o′clock,′ but will Borussia Dortmund still be there in May? | Sports| German football and major international sports news | DW | 17.08.2019
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Bundesliga: 'Top of the league by six o'clock,' but will Borussia Dortmund still be there in May?

The confidence surrounding Borussia Dortmund proved well-placed as the Black and Yellows blew Augsburg away. But, on a day of novelties in Dortmund, more changes are necessary.

There were several new developments around the Westfalenstadion as the Bundesliga returned to Dortmund for a new season.

Beneath the famous Yellow Wall, creative supporters had been busy during the summer months decorating the cavernous grey concourse areas with graffiti, murals and other artwork paying tribute to their city and club. 

Above it, the hardcore ultras had decided that, while the team had played "very well" last season, the atmosphere at home games wasn’t up to scratch, and so had spread themselves out across the terrace in an attempt to boost the noise levels. 

There had been a marked change of approach in the dressing room and at board level, too. Dortmund have nailed their colors to the mast and made their aim for the season abundantly clear: they want to win the Bundesliga. 

"We'll be top of the league by six o'clock!" one fan had shouted earlier from the back seat of a bicycle taxi outside club legend Kevin Grosskreutz's pub in the city center, full of confidence after Hertha Berlin held Bayern Munich to a draw the previous evening.

And why not? After finishing just two points behind the Bavarians last season, Dortmund moved quickly in the transfer market this summer to snap up Nico Schulz, Thorgan Hazard, Julian Brandt and Mats Hummels – the latter making a controversial return to BVB from Bayern Munich to add some much-needed experience at the back.

"Whatever the sporting merits of the transfer, it won't surprise anyone to learn that we could have done without him coming back," wrote the ultras, as implacable as ever, in their matchday flyer. 

They haven't forgiven the former captain for the manner of his departure three years ago, but others apparently have, and Hummels' name was cheered just as loudly as any other player's when the Dortmund line-up — unchanged from last week's 2-0 cup win over KFC Uerdingen — was read out.

Read more:  Bayern Munich haunted by Guardiola's ghost in Bundesliga opener

Such was the mood in Dortmund: the title charge begins here. But for all the novelties and newfound confidence, some things never change. Overcast weather in the Ruhrgebiet, for one thing. Disastrous Dortmund defending, for another. It cost them a nine-point lead and a first league title since 2012 last season, and it took just 31 seconds to cost them again here. DW had barely settled down on the main stand when Ruben Vargas found Carlos Gruezo in yards of space inexplicably vacated by Lukasz Piszczek and Manuel Akanji. The Ecuadorian squared and Florian Niederlechner finished. 

Borussia Dortmund vs. Augsburg: Florian Niederlechner celebrates his goal, the first of the match. August 17, 2019, Dortmund. (Reuters/L. Kuegeler)

Augsburg shocked the Dortmund crowd within around 30 seconds, but the remainder of the match was one-way traffic

It wasn't the first time Dortmund had conceded quickly on the opening day. Twelve months ago, Jean-Kevin Augustin gave RB Leipzig the lead here inside the opening minute. Five years ago in 2014, it took Karim Bellarabi just nine seconds to put Bayer Leverkusen ahead. Some things never change. 

Fortunately, BVB have invested heavily in what was already a formidable forward line and, within three minutes, they were level. Jadon Sancho, the league's top provider last season, continued where he left off by feeding Marco Reus whose cut-back was tapped home by Paco Alcacer. 

Borussia Dortmund vs. Augsburg: Scorer Paco Alcacer (holding the ball) celebrates with the majority of his teammates after equalizing to make the score 1-1. August 17, 2019, Dortmund. (Reuters/L. Kuegeler)

Paco Alcacer was his typically effective self, seeing rather little of the ball yet scoring two and setting another up

Sancho was involved again just after half-time, arrowing home from a tight angle after Axel Witsel's cross had somehow evaded every Augsburg player in the box to put Dortmund ahead. Eight minutes later, Reus and Alcacer had made it 4-1 as wave after wave of yellow shirts flooded relentlessly towards the yellow wall. Here again, some things never change. 

But despite the comprehensive score line, Michael Zorc had his feet firmly on the floor post-match. "It was important that we equalized quickly," said the sporting director, focusing tellingly on the opening three minutes and ignoring the subsequent goal fest. "All in all, it's a good start. Nothing more."

Borussia Dortmund vs. Augsburg: Jadon Sancho celebrates in front of fans after putting Dortmund 2-1 ahead. August 17, 2019, Dortmund. (Reuters/L. Kuegeler)

Jadon Sancho wasn't the only Dortmund scorer to benefit from a stylish Axel Witsel assist

Zorc was right not to get carried away. He — and everybody else — knows how dangerous Dortmund are offensively; 81 Bundesliga goals last term are testament to that. And, with respect, it probably won't be the only time Augsburg are on the receiving end of a hiding this season. The issues are at the other end and there will be far tougher tests to come.

Still, by the time debutant Julian Brandt made it five in the closing stages, that didn’t seem to matter. The fan on the three-seated bicycle had already been proven correct: Borussia Dortmund were top of the league by six o'clock. 

But if they want to be stay there in May, they know a few more things still have to change. 

Read more:  DW's Bundesliga predictions for 2019-20

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