Borussia Dortmund: Full Report Card for Every Position Entering New Season
Borussia Dortmund may have kicked off the new season in spectacular form with solid wins against Bayern Munich and Stuttgarter Kickers in the past week, but to win any serious silverware they'll need to be sure of having a strong and able squad of players.
One of Jurgen Klopp's greatest faults last season was not addressing a lack of cover for a number of positions throughout the squad. The coach has done well to invest over the summer, but has he done enough to once again challenge Bayern for the Bundesliga title?
Today we find out with a report card on every position in the Dortmund squad.
German clubs have long been renowned for their strength in the goalkeeper position, and Dortmund are no exception to this well-worn cliche.
Roman Weidenfeller has long been the first name on Klopp's team sheet and should prove more than enough between the goals for the club in years to come.
Of course, there are other options, too. Mitchell Langerak, the Australian international, continues to grow in confidence and was perfectly comfortable in the opening match of the season against Bayern. Youngsters Hendrik Bonmann and Zlatan Alomerovic await in the youth side for their chance to impress.
Dortmund have long considered full-back Lukasz Piszczek as one of the most complete right-sided defenders in the European game today. And they've had every right to do so.
The Polish international is a truly astonishing player when fully fit; defending with strong, confident tackles and joining in attacks with a crossing and dribbling ability that matches any winger in the modern game.
Up until last season, one would have assumed that Dortmund would struggle if Piszczek picked up a knock, but due to the unforeseen emergence of Kevin Grosskreutz in the position last year, it would be safe to suggest that Klopp is more than happy with his fully functioning right-back and his perfectly capable replacement.
For perhaps the first time since Klopp and his plucky Dortmund side took to the European stage, the club has four quality central defenders to choose from.
The constant, niggling injuries that have disrupted the careers of Mats Hummels and Neven Subotic—the two undoubted starters in such a position—over the years have finally been dealt with through the acquisitions of Sokratis Papastathopoulos last season and Matthias Ginter this summer.
Now Klopp can sit back and confidently rely upon two central defenders in almost any scenario that he may have to face this season. Certainly a first a for the charismatic coach.
Again, in the same sense as the centre-back and right-back situations at the club, Klopp now finds himself in a more healthy position when it comes to the left side of his back line.
Marcel Schmelzer has long been considered the first option in the position, with the likes of Grosskreutz filling in as cover, yet there is now a second name that the coach must consider: Erik Durm.
The young defender was, of course, one of the few unknown quantities for Germany at the World Cup this summer, yet Dortmund fans know just what this right-footed left-back can do.
Two excellent options for Klopp in what is generally considered a problem position for even the most resourceful clubs around the world.
Although Dortmund tend to play with a constant need for two central midfielders in every game in their usual 4-2-3-1 formation, Klopp now seems to have no less than six players to chose from in such a position.
Ilkay Gundogan, undoubtedly the key player in the position, has been out injured for over a year now, and in his absence others such as Nuri Sahin and Sven Bender have claimed the position as their own.
Add to those players recent signing Milos Jojic, a young player who can play across the midfield, and the old guard of Sebastian Kehl and Oliver Kirch and you have a very well-stocked central midfield.
Klopp won't be running bare in the centre anytime soon.
Despite being one of the most important positions in Klopp's system, the German coach seems to only have one genuine player for this role: Henrikh Mkhitaryan.
The Armenian international has looked like a completely different player in the two competitive games we've seen of him this season—following a long and proper rest and pre-season—yet if he were to pick up an injury, Klopp would have to begin reshuffling his entire front line just to cope.
Jojic can, of course, play the position, yet the 22-year-old is far from a tried and tested option for Klopp as of yet. Meaning we'd more than likely see someone like Marco Reus or perhaps even a fully fit Gundogan move into the position.
Not quite a disaster waiting to happen, but certainly a position that could do with some extra options.
For these two wide positions in a typical, supporting front three of a 4-2-3-1 formation, Dortmund have no less than five genuine options.
The most notable of which is of course Marco Reus, who tends to play on the left. The German international is Klopp's best player and, when fit, will always be in such a position unless other roles need to be filled.
We also have striker-turned-winger Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who was so lethal on the right of Dortmund's attack against Bayern in the DFL-Supercup and at certain points last season. Like Mkhitaryan, he too looks to have benefited from a proper pre-season and looks like a completely different player in such a position.
In reserve, Klopp will be able to rely upon the experienced Jakub Blaszczykowski as a solid right-winger, as well as young talent Jonas Hofmann, a 22-year-old who looks set for a very exciting year, who can play on either side.
If all else fails, then we also have Kevin Grosskreutz. A player perhaps more renowned for his defensive attributes these days but one who knows the team and Klopp's system inside out.
With the departure of Robert Lewandowski to Bayern this summer, many feared that Dortmund would struggle to play a front line that threatened or indeed scored as many goals as last season.
Yet Klopp has put many minds to ease with the signings of Ciro Immobile and Adrian Ramos.
Ramos has, of course, got a sparkling record in the Bundesliga, having played at Hertha Berlin last season. While Immobile picked up plenty of fans with his goalscoring antics for Torino in the Serie A in the previous campaign.
Both strikers look fit, fresh and ready to help Dortmund forget all about their former Polish goalscorer.