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bundesliga

Impressive run rekindles fond memories for Borussia Dortmund faithful

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Blazing a Bundesliga trail in 2023, Borussia Dortmund are beginning to revive memories of glories past as Edin Terzic’s band of brothers continue to build on their New Year bond in Black and Yellow.

A 100 per cent start to the year equates to eight straight wins in league, UEFA Champions League and DFB Cup action, numbers last seen in Dortmund at this stage of a season back in 2011/12. In that glorious campaign, Jürgen Klopp led BVB to a Bundesliga and Pokal double having started the second half of the season in similarly victorious form. This time around, Die Schwarzgelben are shaking things up with a mesmerising mix of electric youth and steady experience in a squad that has coach Terzic bursting with pride.

Following the 2-0 win at Bayer Leverkusen at the end of last month, the 40-year-old tactician boasted: “That was the best bench Borussia Dortmund ever had.” Able to summon replacements such as Jamie Bynoe-Gittens, Mats Hummels, Marco Reus and Anthony Modeste from among his substitutes spoke of a strength in depth previously unknown to Terzic, and most of the division in fact.

Watch: BVB claim a big win in Leverkusen on Matchday 18

“They were almost all national players sitting [among the subs],” he said. “It's a tough decision for me [but] we don't want to win games [only] with the starting XI, we want to achieve our goals as a [squad]. I much prefer that to the team forming itself,” the Borussia boss continued.

That variety of player options has led to some eye-catching numbers. When Bynoe-Gittens came off the bench to score in their 2-0 Matchday 20 win against Werder Bremen – Dortmund’s 300th away victory in their Bundesliga history – it was the third time he had done so this term.

It also brought the Black-and-Yellows’ goals-from-subs total this season to 10. USMNT international Gio Reyna – who, like Bynoe-Gittens has overcome recent injury setbacks – has also netted three from the bench in 2022/23. In all, five Terzic subs have scored in five of the team's Bundesliga games of 2023, while Bynoe-Gittens came off the bench to provide an assist in their sixth on Matchday 21.

Jamie Bynoe-Gittens has three goals and an assist from the bench in 2023. - Thomas Eisenhuth/Bundesliga/Bundesliga Collection via Getty

"It's the quality of the squad,” the Menden-born coach continued. “We've emphasised on several occasions that there are guys who start for us, there are guys who finish the game, and there are guys who decide the game for us.

"It's the 10th time that the lads on the bench have scored in the Bundesliga. We've already seen it in the Champions League and the cup too. It's extremely important that we can react to all in-game circumstances. We hope that we can continue to count on such a strong bench."

Added to their strength in depth, Dortmund’s astounding pool of young talent is giving an energy that is certain to provoke envy throughout Germany and beyond. As many as 15 goals have been scored by BVB players aged 20 or under in the current campaign, a number that can only be matched by the 17 other teams in the Bundesliga when their totals are combined.

Dortmund's strength in depth has played a major role in their success this year. - SASCHA SCHUERMANN/AFP via Getty Images

“The fact that we have so many teenagers here is really special,” the 18-year-old Bynoe-Gittens – a European Under-19 champions with England – said.  "I can feel that the youngsters believe in it, that's what we're working for," Terzic added.

Leading the youth charge at Signal Iduna Park is Jude Bellingham, a player who has drawn worldwide attention for his immense progress in the Borussia engine room, where he continues to pull the strings. At 19, the Birmingham-native has already captained BVB on several occasions while he is the Bundesliga’s leader in duels won (319). Bellingham’s non-stop work rate is also evidenced by the fact he is among the division’s top 10 in terms of both sprints (539) and intensive runs (1,611).

Watch: Jude Bellingham - Borussia's master midfielder 

“He is the oldest 19-year-old in the world,” Terzic said of his senior England international. “He’s outstanding. The whole season we can see he is taking more and more responsibility. The only thing we don't know about Jude is how high his limit is,” the coach continued. “We know he is cable of doing very special things; we are really delighted that he is part of our team.”

“He's a role model for me,” Bynoe-Gittens added of Bellingham. “He’s a big help; off the pitch too. He talks to me a lot."

Yet the talk of this Dortmund team goes even further beyond talented teens and strength in depth, huge factors as both are. Praiseworthy performances have been noted all over the pitch since the turn of the year. Goalkeeper Gregor Kobel is at the peak of his powers right now, and his seven clean sheets in 17 Bundesliga appearances have helped to add to BVB’s 43 top-flight points that has the side sitting second in the standings.

"I think I’ve had [some] very good games this year but I'm sure there are one or two things that I can do better," the Swiss custodian told DAZN.

Scoring and saving: Julian Brandt (l.) and goalkeeper Gregor Kobel. - IMAGO/Anke Waelischmiller/Sven S/IMAGO/Sven Simon

In front of Kobel, recent defensive arrivals Nico Schlotterbeck and Niklas Süle are continuing to develop their understanding. Solid showings from the defensive partnership in recent weeks have seen Dortmund concede just twice in the team’s last four Bundesliga wins against Werder, Freiburg, Leverkusen and Hertha.

Further up the pitch, Julian Brandt has been purring. With three goals and an assist in his last four Bundesliga appearances, the 26-year-old is in scintillating form. “He's one of our most consistent and hard-running players and he's extremely important for us on the ball,” coach Terzic said of BVB’s No. 19.

“A certain [flow] is setting in but that has also been earned,” Brandt said after the Bremen triumph, in which he scored his sixth Bundesliga goal of the campaign. "We're still at an early stage of the season. We have to keep going. We can’t act like an otter now, lie on our backs and relax," he added.

Watch: Jamie Bynoe-Gittens and Julian Brandt on target in Bremen

With the reappearance of striker Sebastien Haller – who made his debut in Black-and-Yellow this year after triumphing over testicular cancer – almost everything is falling into place at a key moment of the season for the side from North Rhine-Westphalia. Captain Reus and full-back Thomas Meunier now being back in the fold following injuries only adds to that feeling.

The one downside to it all is the foot injury sustained by striker Youssoufa Moukoko that will keep the exciting young Germany international sidelined for the next six weeks.

Borussia fans will be hopeful that setback won’t hamper their team’s current consistency. BVB are leading the way in the post-winter period, with no other team able to boast only wins since the Bundesliga restart.

Watch: Sebastien Haller's emotional return

"I can feel the anticipation in everyone involved, in the dressing room and during training," Terzic said of his side’s current run. “We're continuing to ride a wave,” Brandt added.

Dortmund’s ride on the crest of this wave takes them to Hoffenheim on Matchday 22, where they will be favourites to take maximum points against a side currently on a 12-game winless streak.