Hans-joachim watzke looked more proud than he has in a long time. The fact that the bundesliga leaders from dortmund are also at the top of the champions league at the end of the group stage sent the club boss into a state of euphoria.
"We don’t need to celebrate ourselves, but at the moment everything is dreamlike," he commented on the 2-0 (1-0) in the first-round showdown with AS monaco, with which borussia continued its imposing high flight. To the relief of the manager, the club, which had failed in the previous season, is once again attracting attention in europe: "it was important for us to present a clear face again after this miserable year."
More and more, a spirit of optimism is spreading in dortmund that reminds many observers of the glorious times under jurgen klopp at the beginning of this decade. The fact that atletico madrid failed to go beyond a 0-0 draw with FC brugge in the final preliminary round match was in keeping with the fairytale success story of the past few months.
Even without the leading wolves marco reus and axel witsel and other spared or injured professionals, the team, changed in nine positions, remained on track for success. "It’s precisely the players who don’t get to play so often who don’t give in, but show what they also show in training. That’s how they drive the team forward," said auben defender marcel schmelzer, who celebrated his comeback after weeks of forced rest.
Unlike last year, when BVB bowed out of the konigsklasse with just two paydays, this time they recorded a whopping 13 points and became the first german team to go five games without conceding a goal in the group stage of the competition. "We have once again shown the true face of borussia dortmund. At the moment, we are taking every opportunity to gain points and work on our self-confidence," praised sebastian kehl, head of the licensed players’ department.
Watzke saw the reserves’ performance, while not brilliant, as an indication of borussia’s growing clout. "You’ve seen that the second suit fits too. That’s certainly a strong one at the moment, that we have such a wide range." Especially two-time goal-scorer raphael guerreiro (15./88. Minute) took the chance to recommend himself for further starting eleven appearances. "Whenever he got the chance, he took it and was always very present," praised kehl.
As group winners, borussia enjoys the advantage of being able to play the decisive match in the eighth finals at home. In addition, the bundesliga table leaders will be spared big lumps like real madrid, FC barcelona or paris saint-germain with ex-coach thomas tuchel in monday’s draw. However, there could be an explosive reunion with former coach klopp, who finished second in the difficult group C with liverpool FC. "Liverpool in the next round wasn’t absolutely necessary," said watzke. "That was tough," mario gotze said.
Further successes in the three bundesliga games against bremen, dusseldorf and monchengladbach still to come before christmas could add the finishing touches to what has so far been a fabulous first half of the season. With a win over bremen on saturday, the autumn championship would already be secure. "This is a title for which you get nothing. But having him is not so bad psychologically," said watzke.