Even though there are two more match days in the German Bundesliga, Borussia Dortmund already has reason to celebrate: With the 2-0 win over Borussia Moenchengladbach on Saturday night, the club has successfully retained its title, now having an unassailable eight-point lead over Bayern Munich.
More than that, with an impressive record of being unbeaten for 26 matches, Dortmund was able to beat Bayern Munich, Schalke and Moenchengladbach (ranked second, fourth and thrid in the league respectively) in the last three games, a strong testament proving wrong all doubters that have called the Black Yellows a fleeting star at the beginning of the season.
Much of Dortmund’s success is owed to coach Juergen Klopp, who has implemented a “fun and fearless” philosophy in his team of young players. This philosophy has been translated on to the pitch and in the way this team plays: Always energetic and dynamic. It is also an extra bonus for the fans, since attacking football is much more enjoyable to watch than a defensive way of playing.
And the season is not even over yet: Another title could be in the cards for Dortmund, when they will face Bayern Munich once again in the final of the DFB Cup on May 12.
Should Dortmund beat its strongest opponent again, they will have won two titles this season — certainly all the more reason to celebrate. Or is it?
Critics, however, can still find something to grouse about: Despite Dortmund’s success this season on a national level, the club has performed poorly in the Champions League, which for many teams is the ultimate goal and measurement of real success. In fact, Dortmund wasn’t even able to survive the group stage and bowed out with scanty four points in six matches.
So why is it that a team that has been so successful in its home country failed miserably on the international level of the Champions League?
Why is it that Bayern Munich is the only German team with solid performances in the Champions League? The answer is quite simple: The Bavarians (having won the Bundesliga title 22 times; by comparison, this year marks Dortmund’s ninth win) have much more international experience than any other German club. It is quite a big difference to go head to head against the best clubs in Europe, or mediocre German teams like Hannover 96, Werder Bremen and VfB Stuttgart.
Bayern Munich, however, not only has the experience but also the right players to face such challenges: Half the German national team play for the Bavarians, but the club can also count international stars with a lot of experience like Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben in their midst — seemingly small things that in the end make all the difference.
It’s still a long way to go for Dortmund to reach the long list of accomplishments that Bayern Munich has under its belt already. But if the club continues the way it has over the past two years, they are definitely on the right path.
German football fans will cross their fingers that the transformation of Dortmund from national sensation to international success will be well underway in the next couple of years: Because despite rivalries between the different Bundesliga clubs, it would definitely be rewarding to finally see more than only one German team thrive in the Champions League.