They gave it their best shot; they even had a potential opener disallowed for want of goal-line technology (a possible offside notwithstanding).
But Borussia Dortmund came up short—just—in Saturday’s DFB-Pokal decider against Bayern Munich, and with the defeat went at least one more touchstone of a memorable generation of BVB players who delivered a title in 2011, a double in 2012 and a run to the Champions League final in 2013.
Robert Lewandowski, who played the full 120 minutes in Dortmund’s 2-0 extra-time loss to the Bundesliga winners, will be finalizing his move to Bayern Munich over the next few weeks.
In four seasons at the Westfalenstadion following a 2010 switch from Lech Poznan, the Poland striker hit 103 goals for Die Schwarzgelben and became the focal point of an exciting attack that conquered not only Germany but also a handful of European giants, including Real Madrid, at its high point.
However, the economic realities of German football, including the ancient law that all good things must one day go to Bayern, have conspired against Dortmund, who next season will little resemble the side that three years ago reclaimed the shield after a nine-year pursuit.
Already departed are Shinji Kagawa, who joined Manchester United in 2012, and Mario Goetze, who is awaiting Lewandowski’s arrival at Allianz Arena.
And if the Red Devils and Barcelona spend to the extent they’re expected to this summer, Marco Reus and Mats Hummels might have played their final match for Borussia Dortmund as well.
Neven Subotic and Ilkay Gundogan will also be hot commodities over the next few weeks and months.
That said, there remains a constant at Dortmund whose presence will safeguard the club’s competitiveness for the foreseeable future. He is manager Jurgen Klopp, and as long as players are keen to be a part of his idea of what a fun, attack-minded team should be, that team will continue to be a contender, no matter the revolving door.
Already the Bundesliga runners-up have signed Ji Dong-Won from Augsburg, and just last month, they announced the acquisition of Hertha Berlin forward Adrian Ramos.
The new arrivals should keep Dortmund ticking right along, just as Lewandowski helped them to do when he took over from Paraguay international Lucas Barrios.
“Borussia Dortmund will go on without [Lewandowski],” remarked Reus in January, as per Goal.
They will, indeed.
Because at Dortmund, the notion that no one player is bigger than the club is more than a cliche.