5 Borussia Dortmund Players with a Point to Prove in 2014/15
Borussia Dortmund have looked anything but sloppy in the build up to this coming Bundesliga title race against Bayern Munich, but Jurgen Klopp will be wary of a few players in his squad who have still to convince.
With added firepower, defensive stability and midfield drive following an enduring raid of the transfer window, Germany's second biggest club look stronger and better suited to a title race as well as being more willing to drop star players if they aren't performing as expected.
Klopp is a coach who defends his players to the bitter end, but some within this squad will undoubtedly feel his gaze upon their performances from one match to the next.
Here are the five Dortmund players who will have something to prove to their coach and fans across the world in the 2014/15 Bundesliga season.
The first player on our list is Marcel Schmelzer. Unfortunately regarded on a rather regular basis in Dortmund as the proverbial weak link in Klopp's side, the German left-back will have it all to prove once again this coming season.
Schmelzer has always had a strong chorus of critics during his time at the Bundesliga club, and such demands from the fans will only get stronger if Klopp continues to play the 26-year-old over young challenger Erik Durm without any justification.
If Dortmund's current first choice left-back doesn't play at his best this season and prove that he's still No. 1, we may well see Durm take his spot before too long.
It may seem rather odd to pick on Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang at this moment in time. The striker-turned-winger was, of course, at the heart of Dortmund's dramatic defeat of Bayern last week and has looked excellent so far this season. So what's the problem, then?
Well, unfortunately the former Ligue 1 striker has been far from convincing at Dortmund since joining last season from St. Etienne and will undoubtedly have to prove that he is a consistent, first team goalscorer if he hopes to remain at the club.
Klopp will have no time for a forward who can only promise the odd patch of form and goals throughout a season. It's time for Aubameyang to thrive in the Bundesliga.
In a similar sense to the situation that Aubameyang finds himself in this season, Henrikh Mkhitaryan is going into his second season at Dortmund knowing full well that this has to be his breakthrough year in Germany.
Signed for an extraordinary amount of money—at least by Dortmund's standards—Mkhitaryan was promised to club fans and coaches alike as the definitive replacement for the departing Mario Gotze. Something that simply hasn't happened yet.
The Armenian international has to his credit looked much better this season and should truly thrive in the centre of Dortmund's attack. Yet if he fails to up his game in this coming Bundesliga campaign, it may be enough for Klopp to simply cash in and walk away from attacking midfielder.
Ilkay Gundogan is undoubtedly one of the best players at Dortmund yet nobody is quite sure just how good he'll be when he returns from an injury that has kept him out of action since last year.
With the weight of expectation firmly placed upon him by fans who hope he could be the spark of inspiration that wins their club this coming Bundesliga title race, Gundogan knows that he won't have much time to re-acclimatise to this new squad.
It's time for this young, German prodigy to get back on to the pitch for Dortmund and prove to us all once again just why he's one of the most exciting prospects in German football.
The final player on our list is Ciro Immobile. A young forward who will, of course, feel all the usual pressure of arriving and succeeding at a new club, but with the added onus on replacing a former goalscoring behemoth in Robert Lewandowski.
Klopp will undoubtedly play down any emphasis on the Italian necessarily hitting the ground running in German football, but in private he will hope that young Immobile can surprise us all and grab 20 goals or more this season.
Dortmund will need a goalscorer and although they have the Bundesliga-trained Adrian Ramos and goal-savvy midfielders in Marco Reus, Aubameyang and Mkhitaryan; Immobile will be expected to make that sole striker's role his own in this coming season.