Borussia Dortmund stick two fingers up to every sheikh, oil baron and pornography merchant
Jürgen Klopp wears a suit when his team play in the Champions League. For those more accustomed to seeing him in his usual garb of tracksuit, hoodie and severely questionable baseball cap, it is a sight for sore eyes. But then, as he himself says, the Champions League is a special occasion. And as the British journalists currently gushing over Dortmund’s away support for a second year in a row will testify, BVB are here to enjoy the party.
This year, though, they refuse to stop there. The fans were as loud in Manchester as they were at the Emirates last year. Klopp’s suit was equally well ironed, 11 months on. But the team playing football on the pitch, despite only minor adjustments, looked entirely different. Gone was the wobbling, bambiesque Dortmund of last year, whose supreme talent seemed to hide away every time it heard the opening bars of Zadok the Priest. In its place was a team who, despite being drawn into the Group of Death, were determined, in Klopp’s words “to show Borussia Dortmund in a new light to that of last year”.
And so they did. For after a scrappy victory against Ajax on the opening matchday, this was Dortmund’s first real test. Against City, they took a good step towards dispelling any accusation of being unable to transform domestic dominance into European competitiveness. The tempo of their football had City backed up against a wall for large swathes of the second half. Marco Reus showed the watching Sir Alex Ferguson why he had been persistently linked with the latter’s United in recent transfer windows. Even when they were under the cosh themselves, Roman Weidenfeller demonstrated once again just why Germany considers itself to be the land of the goalkeepers.
Indeed, had it not been for a few missed chances, a laughable penalty decision and a goalkeeper of whom a German paper once said “he is so good he can’t possibly be English”, Dortmund would have taken all three points. They would be level on points with Real Madrid, and would have clear breathing space between themselves and City.
Even the fact that they should have won, however, is something of a victory. Prior to last night, Klopp’s side were still the unquantifiables when it came to the European stage. Even their own fans would have admitted that their team’s immense potential was still yet to be fulfilled in Europe. Last night was a rite of passage. It was the moment the world sat up and realised that FC Bayern are not the only title contender the Bundesliga produces these days.
For while Schalke remain a good few rungs down from the European elite, Dortmund have more than enough potential to penetrate it. And if they do so, they will do it in the knowledge that they have bucked a trend. They will have done so without major expenditure, without forsaking their policies of youth development and financial stability.
It is these policies which make BVB such an attractive endorsement of the Bundesliga model. They are the same policies which keep the fans involved and onside, leading them to such displays of loyalty as last night’s. They are the same policies which allow the club to make a profit of over 15 million Euros on a player like Shinji Kagawa. They are the same policies which stick two fingers up to every sheikh, oil baron and pornography merchant this side of Brussels.
So while Bayern slink off in disgrace after their defeat to BATE Borisov, and Schalke contest the politics around René Girard’s middle finger, let us once again say hooray for Dortmund. In an era which is increasingly concerned with which European league is the best, they are doing the German contingency proud. Long may it last.Tagged in: borussia dortmund, Champions League, football, Jürgen Klopp, Manchester City
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