Season preview: Borussia Dortmund

Season preview: Borussia Dortmund
© AP Photos
Sports Mole takes a look at Borussia Dortmund's prospects in the Bundesliga, which gets underway this weekend.

Having dominated German football between 2010 and 2012, Borussia Dortmund were forced to watch on from the shadows as Bayern Munich regained control last season.

With the new Bundesliga campaign getting underway this weekend, Sports Mole previews Dortmund's chances of overhauling Pep Guardiola's side.

In:

Henrikh Mkhitaryan (FC Shakhtar Donetsk), Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Saint-Etienne), Sokratis Papastathopoulos (Werder Bremen), Hendrik Bonmann (RW Essen)

Out:

Lasse Sobiech (Hamburger SV), Leonardo Bittencourt (Hannover 96), Moritz Leitner (VfB Stuttgart, loan), Julian Koch (FSV Mainz 05), Daniel Ginczek (FC Nuremberg), Felipe Santana (FC Schalke 04), Mario Gotze (FC Bayern Munich), Marvin Bakalorz (released)

Last Season: 2nd

Manager: Jurgen Klopp

Three key players:


Dortmund's Ilkay Gundogan on action on October 3, 2012© AP Photos
Ilkay Gundogan - Such was the impression Gundogan made last season that he has recently been linked with the likes of Real Madrid and Manchester United. The 22-year-old remains a Dortmund player, though, and is bound to be given another key role in the midfield by Klopp over the coming months. While most midfielders in modern football are regarded to be either attacking or defensive, Gundogan's fitness levels allow him to carry out both tasks. What's more, he showed last season that he can produce his best form in the biggest games, having shone against the likes of Manchester City, Madrid and Bayern.


If Rodgers has a spare 22m, then Shakthar striker Henrikh Mkhitaryan could well be on his wishlist.© PA Photos
Henrikh Mkhitaryan - Having developed Mario Gotze since the age of eight, Dortmund will have been deeply hurt by his decision to join up with FC Hollywood in Munich. The man charged with the task of replacing the German international is Mkhitaryan, who scored a highly impressive 29 goals in 41 outings for Ukrainian outfit Shakhtar Donetsk last term. The Bundesliga is a step up in class, but the 24-year-old is still expected to reach double figures. It will also be interesting to see how he links up with fellow attacker Marco Reus, who shared an almost telepathic understanding with Gotze.


Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang© PA Photos
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang - Despite his pleas, Dortmund refused Robert Lewandowski the chance to head to Munich with Gotze. They are, however, only delaying the inevitable. It is believed that once his contract expires next summer, the Polish frontman will be on the next plane down south. Whether he sulks or not remains to be seen, but Klopp has recruited a potential replacement in Aubameyang. While their respective styles may differ - Aubameyang relies on pace whereas Lewandowski can hold the ball up and bring others into play - they both possess a clinical touch in front of goal. The new signing scored 19 times in Ligue 1 last season and the pressure will be on to show that he can fill an upcoming Lewandowski-shaped void.

First game: Augsburg (A), Complete fixture list

Sports Mole says: Football fans fell in love with the Yellow and Blacks last year, but for all the affection that they received, it was Bayern who claimed the prizes. Further salt has since been rubbed in the wound by the departure of Gotze and Lewandowski's flirting with the rival. Klopp has dusted himself down, though, and has made some smart additions. After all, he had a similar situation put before him last summer when Shinji Kagawa departed for Manchester United. His side will entertain again next term - it's the way that Klopp likes his team to play football. It remains unlikely that they will be able to wrestle the title back from the Bavarian giants, but it will be a big surprise if they do not close last season's 25-point gap.

Predicted finish: 2nd

An assortment of Borussia Dortmund players celebrating on November 21, 2012
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Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Borussia DortmundDortmund65101911816
2Hoffenheim6420115614
3Bayern Munich6411145913
4Hannover633062412
5Augsburg632184411
6RB Leipzig6312107310
7Schalke 04Schalke630378-19
8Hertha Berlin62226608
9Borussia MonchengladbachBorussia M'bach6222811-38
10Bayer LeverkusenB. Leverkusen6213121027
11Eintracht FrankfurtFrankfurt621345-17
12Stuttgart621337-47
13Wolfsburg613258-36
14Mainz 056204610-46
15Hamburger SV6204411-76
16Freiburg604229-74
17Werder Bremen603337-43
18FC Koln6015113-121
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