Borussia Dortmund Can Learn from This Season and Come Back Stronger Than Ever

Cristian NyariContributor IMay 18, 2014

The soccer team of Borussia Dortmund pose prior to the German Soccer Cup Final between FC Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund at the Olympic Stadium Berlin, Germany, Saturday, May 17, 2014. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)
Markus Schreiber/Associated Press

Perhaps more than any other team in Europe this season, Borussia Dortmund have a reason to feel hard done by.

They have been plagued with recurring and long-term injuries from the start of the season, were dealt the arguably hardest draw in the Champions League and had a perfectly legitimate goal called off in the German Cup final against Bayern that could have decided the game in their favor.

The latter was especially harsh after a tightly contested game against Bayern, and it was Dortmund's only remaining chance at silverware this season. A win would surely have made the difference between what many may view as a disappointing season and a resounding success.

However, if there is one club that can bounce back from adversity, learn from the setbacks and collectively overcome them, it is Dortmund under Jurgen Klopp.

As the team and 1,700 guests gathered at a venue in Berlin after the game, Klopp summed it up best, "Life is a series of challenges, attempts to prevail. If everything you tried went perfectly then would that not soon become boring?"

That bright optimism defines Klopp and his team. And it is that outlook and spirit that will see them return stronger than ever next season. 

This season was a series of unfortunate events for the club, but despite those bumps in the road, they reached the quarterfinals of the Champions League, finished second in the league and went down to the wire in the German Cup.

Klopp's sentiments of a great season in spite of all the setbacks were spot on and resonated throughout the hall in Berlin. "This evening we attempted to win another title. Sadly we came up short this time. But once again we have done ourselves, our club and community proud in a way that cannot be surpassed."

Gero Breloer/Associated Press

In the same manner that losing the Champions League final to Chelsea in their own stadium inspired Bayern to the treble in 2013, Dortmund can rally around defeat to lift their game to another level next year.

If anything, Dortmund have shown what great resilience the team has by being able to adjust and overcome the many absences they had to deal with this season. They also did not let the known departure of Robert Lewandowski get in the way of them finishing the season on a high note.

The biggest challenge, of course, will be replacing Lewandowski, whose influence went beyond just goals. Hertha Berlin's Adrian Ramos is a first step in the right direction but not the only solution.

Dortmund have reportedly shown interest in Torino striker Ciro Immobile, via The Guardian, and the Italian could be an ideal fit and replacement for Lewandowski's goal prowess.

It will also give Klopp a choice of two or three players up front and allow him to continue playing Reus behind the striker where he finished the season so strongly. With Reus in the middle Dortmund can maintain the creativity they had with Mario Gotze a year ago and be better able to support whoever plays ahead of him.

A combination of the right replacement, a fit squad and the continued development of current players and Dortmund will be pushing Bayern in all competitions next season.

In Milos Jojic, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Marian Sarr, Jonas Hofmann, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Erik Durm, Klopp has players who will only get better with time. The return of Neven Subotic, Ilkay Gundogan and Jakub Blaszczykowski from long-term injury will also give the team a bump.

This season's injuries made Dortmund seem thinner than they actually are. But the truth is that only Bayern have a deeper squad than Dortmund in Germany, and that should pave the way for an even better campaign next season.

As far as their performances on the pitch, Dortmund can do little to improve. Klopp took more liberties tactically this season, and his rotation policy worked well for the most part. 

Gero Breloer/Associated Press

If there is one criticism, it is that his team lacked the right balance between defense and attack at times. But that was down more to the absence of players and subsequent exhaustion of the personnel at hand rather than tactical shortcomings. 

But by now, Dortmund's players are trained and drilled so well in Klopp's high-energy approach that they rarely show the naivete that they did in their first European ventures years back. 

It is also why Dortmund have been able to challenge Bayern in the league and Cup despite missing so many first-choice players.

The foundation is already in place, and the details and the right mentality are what will see Dortmund through, as Klopp noted after the Cup final.

"We will be back. This team is so mentally strong. It doesn't matter which player leaves us, we shall simply get in new lads. Do not doubt that for a moment."

Jurgen, we don't doubt you for a second.


Follow Cristian on twitter @cnyari