Borussia Dortmund trail leaders Bayern Munich by nine points at halfway, but anything's possible with a fit and firing Erling Haaland in the side.
bundesliga.com reviews Dortmund's season so far…
The story so far
The arrival of Marco Rose from Borussia Mönchengladbach in the summer fuelled high expectations of a sustained challenge of Bayern, and these were reinforced by a 5-2 win over Eintracht Frankfurt on the opening day of the season. A new coach always needs time for his ideas and philosophy to be transmitted, though, and a 2-1 defeat to Freiburg stemmed some of that early enthusiasm. With Haaland scoring for fun, three straight wins thrust the Westphalians back on track and they climbed to second on Matchday 8 and have stayed there since, even if a 3-2 defeat to Hertha Berlin and just one win in four made for a disappointing end to the year.
When he is fully fit, Haaland is unrivalled in terms of his goalscoring threat. The Norwegian has suffered from a few niggles during the first half of the season, yet that has not prevented him from netting more than a goal a game (1.18), averaging one every 69 minutes across his 11 appearances. Thirteen may be an unlucky number for some, but Haaland's haul for the Hinrunde, which included a record-breaking 50th Bundesliga goal, has the 21-year-old in the hunt for the Torjägerkanone and Dortmund believing they can challenge for silverware.
Watch: Erling Haaland, back with a bang
Best game so far
Trailing three times, Dortmund showed impressive bouncebackability in beating Bayer Leverkusen 4-3 at the BayArena in one of the most exciting games of the season so far. Both sides played enterprising, attacking football, and it was Haaland who snatched it with a late penalty.
Watch: Leverkusen 3-4 Dortmund - highlights
One to watch
At the start of the new campaign, Jude Bellingham faced fierce competition for a place in the starting XI, yet the 18-year-old has taken his game to another level to hold down his place in Rose's team. With two goals and five assists, the Englishman has already proven to be a key figure in this Dortmund team, and keeps getting better and better.
The view from inside the camp
"We're having a decent season, starting something new that we're far from completing, and I can promise we'll carry on working, fighting and pursuing our ambitious goals." – Dortmund head coach Marco Rose
Dortmund really need to make a winning start to the year, but they face in-form Frankfurt at the restart – and they could already be 12 points adrift of Bayern by the time they take to the field. With that in mind, a trip to Bundesliga 2 leaders St. Pauli in the last 16 of the DFB Cup just a few weeks later will be a key fixture as the Westphalians look to defend their title – especially with Bayern already out of the competition. They will hope still to be in the title race when they head to Munich with four games of the season to go, and that game could be the one which determines the destiny of the 2021/22 title.