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Feature: Dortmund on Munich's heels
By Oliver Trust
BERLIN, Sept. 27 -- When the former German international Dietmar Hamann spoke about Borussia Dortmund's new role as the main Bayern rivals, the TV pundit could be sure his sentiments were the same as fans right across the country.
"It was an important step for the Bundesliga as everyone is hoping for a side able to consistently challenge Bayern Munich," commented Hamann after the Black and Yellows had thrashed promoted FC Nuremberg 7-0 to move up to second in the Bundesliga table.
Dortmund's squad seems to indicate their intention to challenge the Bavarians for a long time to come. A survey has revealed that 85 percent of German football fans are convinced that Dortmund are now serious rivals for the record league champions.
It also bodes well for Dortmund's dream to soon playing a major role in international competitions like the Champions League where upcoming duels against As Monaco and Atletico Madrid are awaiting.
Dortmund still have to prove themselves but having scored 15 goals after the fifth round of matches is very promising. The fact, that 12 different players have scored tells a story about the offensive qualities.
The team's goal festival has not only made fans happy but is further evidence that their coach is on the right track to finding the right strategy and line-up.
For long Dortmund's new coach, Swiss Lucien Favre tried to teach his team to trust its offensive qualities and not to neglect defensive tasks at the same time. Now the 60-year-old seems to have opened the doors leading to a bright future. Doubts at least, seem to have vanished.
Over the last months many in Dortmund mourned past times when strikers like Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Arsenal) and Ousmane Dembele (Barcelona) provided the team's goals. Attempts to find a single prolific goalscorer failed. Now it seems the answer is much more straightforward than expected - the entire team will have to do the job.
And Dortmund's high flight can bear some key performers that stand above the talented group such as Marco Reus and Paco Alcacer, who joined Borussia on loan from Barcelona. While Alcacer is still trying to catch up after an injury is Reus feeling comfortable with his role as the team's leader.
Against Nuremberg, Reus not only scored twice but proved his leadership qualities.
But Dortmund's new success not only causes happiness among the Blacks and Yellow's squad. A former hero such as Mario Goetze is having trouble to catch up with the rest of the team. Against underdogs Nuremberg, it was the second consecutive game the struggling 2014 World Cup champion wasn't picked for the club's squad.
Having lost his place in the squad seems reason enough for the man, who scored Germany's winning goal in the 2014 World Cup final against Argentina, to think about his future and consider leaving and joining a club abroad. Several pundits say to try a re-start at a new club in the next winter break is Goetze's last chance.
The Dortmund of 2018 don't seem to need the skills of the player, who was once regarded to be the wonder-boy of German football and now appears to have been down-rated to the season's biggest disappointment.
Despite Goetze's problems, Dortmund are currently enjoying what is said to be a turning point.
"We have enormous offensive quality which gives us a lot of confidence but makes it hard for players to be part of our game squad," commented Dortmund's sports director and former midfielder Sebastian Kehl.
Striker star Reus meanwhile spoke about the team having reached a state of excitement on the pitch in front of over 80.000 spectators in the Dortmund arena.
"We are happy about result and performance, but further challenges lie ahead of us," Reus emphasized adding the next challenge against Bayer Leverkusen is already waiting this Saturday evening.