As recently as 2005, Dortmund were on the verge of bankruptcy.
What they have done since is awe-inspiring, and should give hope to any football purist that even in today's money-driven game, success can be achieved organically.
Since Juergen Klopp's appointment as head coach in 2008, BVB have promoted young talent like Mario Goetze and Nuri Sahin and have brought in a wealth of top prospects, such as Mats Hummels and Robert Lewandowski, on the cheap. Despite massive interest from some of Europe's biggest clubs, they've largely been able to retain their best players, extending contracts in most cases.
Playing beautiful, aggressive football, Dortmund have won back-to-back Bundesliga titles and are currently DFB-Pokal holders as well. And this fall, they were the most explosive and exciting team in the Champions League, winning the so-called "Group of Death" ahead of Real Madrid, Manchester City and Ajax. Not bad for a team that has spent less than a net of €2 million on transfers since 2010.
Still, Dortmund have a very long way to go if they are to establish themselves permanently as international—and even domestic—powers. This season has exposed their inadequate depth as strain from the Champions League has seen the Bundesliga title holders drop too many unnecessary points and resulted in a premature end to their defense of the title. And their performances against the Spanish, English and Dutch champions will be for nothing if they exit the Champions League in the first knockout round.
The 2013 calendar year is a critical one in Dortmund's history. Read on for a breakdown of what the Ruhr side must do over the next 12 months if they are to affirm their potential.