Borussia Dortmund are neck and neck with Bayern Munich in the race for the 2018/19 Bundesliga title. The last team to lift the trophy before the Bavarians' six-year stranglehold have gone down in club folklore, we trace what has since become of that class of 2012.
Roman Weidenfeller (goalkeeper)
Weidenfeller was the undisputed No.1 at Dortmund during their triumphant 2011/12 campaign – his 10th season at the club – and started 32 of the team's 34 Bundesliga encounters as they stormed to the title. He was part of Germany's FIFA World Cup-winning squad in 2014, even if he didn't take to the pitch, and remained first-choice goalkeeper at Dortmund until 2015/16, when he lost his place to Roman Bürki under newly installed coach Thomas Tuchel. Ever the professional, Weidenfeller stayed as understudy until the end of the 2017/18 season, at which point he hung up his boots – after a star-stacked testimonial at the Signal Iduna Park. The 38-year-old now works behind the scenes at Dortmund and is earning a reputation as a respected and articulate pundit on German television.
Lukasz Piszczek (right full-back)
One of only three players from the 2011/12 vintage still in the current squad, the 33-year-old remains a dynamic force on the right side of BVB's defence. Signed from Bundesliga rivals Hertha Berlin in July 2010, Piszczek has been a mainstay in the team ever since, making over 220 Bundesliga outings in his eight and a half seasons in black and yellow. He has suffered several minor injuries this season but is so highly regarded by coach Lucien Favre that Achraf Hakimi – the 19-year-old right-back on loan from Real Madrid – has been switched to left-back in order to get game time. Not only is Piszczek solid at the back and aggressive in tackles, he is handy at the opposite end of the pitch too, chipping in with a goal and six assists so far in 2018/19.
Neven Subotic (centre-back)
Jürgen Klopp took Subotic with him from Mainz when he moved to BVB in 2008 and the elegant defender soon struck up a partnership at the heart of defence alongside Mats Hummels. The Serbian remained one of the first names on the teamsheet for a few years after lifting the Meisterschale in 2012, including starting the 2013 UEFA Champions League final against Bayern, but a series of injuries and the emergence of Sokratis at the club meant he gradually slipped down the pecking order from 2015/16 onwards. Subotic, now 30, went on a six-month loan to Cologne in early 2017 and went on to make four more Bundesliga appearances for Dortmund upon his return before finally leaving for French side AS St. Etienne in January 2018.
Mats Hummels (centre-back)
Alongside Subotic, Hummels provided the bedrock upon which Dortmund's title was constructed, winning two titles with the Westphalians before returning to Bayern – where his career had started – in 2016 and adding two further titles to his collection. He spent a total of eight seasons with Dortmund and was crowned world champion in 2014, establishing his reputation as one of the world's best defenders.
Marcel Schmelzer (left full-back)
One of the very few one-club players left in the game, Schmelzer has made 249 Bundesliga appearances for Dortmund since joining as a 17-year-old in 2005. He did not miss a single minute of action when BVB won the title in 2010/11 and was first choice left-back the following season too. Indeed, his positioning, strength in the tackle and overall consistency have made him a fan favourite and a player heavily relied upon by successive coaches, from Klopp to Tuchel, Peter Bosz and Peter Stöger. He has struggled with injuries this season, though, limiting him to just seven Bundesliga outings, while the increased competition from Hakimi and Dan-Axel Zagadou mean he is no longer a guaranteed starter under Favre.
Ilkay Gündogan (defensive midfielder)
Gündogan played a total of five seasons with Dortmund before joining Manchester City in 2016, adding an English Premier League title to his 2012 Bundesliga crown and winning the English League Cup twice under the guidance of former Bayern coach Pep Guardiola. Injuries blighted his time with Dortmund and he has continued to struggle with knocks and niggles in England, although his return of five goals in 23 games in the current campaign is currently his best ever, after his final year at Nuremberg in 2010/11, when he also scored five in 25 games.
Sebastian Kehl (defensive midfielder)
Dortmund through and through, ever since he snubbed Bayern to join the Westphalians from Freiburg in 2002. After 14 seasons at the heart of the action for BVB, his heart continues to beat for the Black & Yellows as the head of the licensed player division. "The new tasks with which he is charged are of the utmost importance for our further sporting development," said CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke. Furthermore, Kehl used his gap year between playing and putting on a suit to gain his UEFA A coaching licence and a UEFA qualification in management.
Jakub Blaszczykowski (attacking midfielder)
'Kuba', as Blaszczykowski is commonly known, was Poland's Footballer of the Year in 2008 and 2010, in the middle of his eight years in Dortmund. After falling just shy of 200 appearances for BVB, he spent a year in Italy's Serie A with Fiorentina before returning to further his Bundesliga career with Wolfsburg. After three more years in Germany, he returned to Wisla Krakow 2019, on a charitable mission: earning next to nothing, he has instead contributed to the club's financial survival, paying wages and donating tickets to the poor, while extending his own playing days at the club that launched his career.
Shinji Kagawa (attacking midfielder)
Kagawa's first two years in German football coincided with their two Bundesliga titles under Klopp, and Manchester United were particularly impressed by the Japanese attacking midfielder, luring him to England in 2012. He spent three seasons with the Red Devils before returning to Dortmund for another four and a half years, and moved to Besiktas in the 2018/19 winter transfer window. With two goals in his first two games in the Turkish league, the 29-year-old has not lost his eye for goal, having amassed 41 for BVB.
Kevin Großkreutz (attacking midfielder)
A firm fan favourite, Kevin Großkreutz's workmanlike approach endeared him to the blue-collar locals as he filled almost every position on the field – even goalkeeper – without complaints, and with no lack of passion and determination. A World Cup winner, he was an integral part of both of Dortmund's title triumphs before an ill-fated move to Galatasaray in 2016. He returned to Germany in January 2016, joining VfB Stuttgart, but a year later, he left Swabia and took a month out of the game before moving to Darmstadt. Since 2018, he has been strutting his stuff for Uerdingen in Germany's third division.
Robert Lewandowski (striker)
A man who needs little – if any – introduction, Lewandowski has continued doing for Bayern what he had done so well at Dortmund: score goals. In March 2019, he joined Claudio Pizarro as the Bundesliga's most prolific foreign goalscorer on 195 goals, having become Bayern's most prolific foreigner with over 120 strikes for the Bavarians. He has added four Bundesliga titles to his collection in Munich, where he has broken record after record. Still only 30, even more records and titles are bound to be on the Pole's path.
Sven Bender (defensive midfielder)
Still going strong in the Bundesliga with Bayer Leverkusen, Bender was a key member of Klopp's team, particularly in 2011/12, and showed versatility under his successor Tuchel to fullfil a new central defensive role that he has continued at Die Werkself.
Mario Götze (attacking midfielder)
You don't have to look far to find Mario Götze, who is back in Dortmund after three years at Bayern in which he swelled his Bundesliga title collection to five, and won two more DFB Cups and a UEFA Super Cup. Can he add a sixth Bundesliga title to the collection this season, and make it three for Dortmund and three for Bayern?
Watch: Mario Götze's top 3 Bundesliga goals
Ivan Perisic (attacking midfielder)
Perisic helped Dortmund win the title in 2012 before moving on to Wolfsburg. He helped the Wolves to the quarter-finals of the UEFA Europa League in 2014/15 before moving to Italy, where he still plays for Inter Milan – the opponents of Eintracht Frankfurt in the last 16 of this year's Europa League.
Felipe Santana (central defender)
The Brazilian defender spent five years with Dortmund before making the brave move to their local rivals Schalke in 2013. After just one season with the Royal Blues, he was loaned out to Olympiacos – where he won a Greek league title – before making a permanent switch to Kuban Krasnodar in Russia. He was released by them in 2016 and spent half a year out of action before returning to his native Brazil and joining Atletico Mineiro, although he was released by them in April 2018.
Chris Löwe (central defender)
The German central defender featured only a handful of times between 2011 and 2013 for Dortmund before joining Bundesliga 2 club Kaiserslautern, with who he made 99 appearances. He joined former Dortmund reserve team coach David Wagner in England at Huddersfield Town in 2016 and helped them gain promotion to the Premier League, where he plies his trade now.
Moritz Leitner (defensive midfielder)
Leitner had spells with Dortmund and Stuttgart in the Bundesliga before spending a season at Lazio in Italy. Augsburg offered him a route back into the Bundesliga in 2017, but he did not feature frequently and was loaned to Norwich in England's second division in 2018.
Lucas Barrios (striker)
With 39 goals in 83 games for Dortmund, tears were spilled when the Paraguayan forward left for Guangzhou Evergrande in 2012. He returned to Europe a year later, and became something of a journeyman with spells at Spartak Moscow, Montpellier, Palmeiras, Gremio, Argentinos Juniors and Colo-Colo before arriving at current club Huracan this year. The one thing he has always done, though, is score goals.
Patrick Owomoyela (left full-back)
Certainly not camera shy, the former Germany international ended his playing career in 2015 after a season with Hamburg, but he has remained in the spotlight, not least for his 'Owo meets…' series on bundesliga.com in which he interviews stars of the German game, past and present.
Klopp was the architect of one of the most successful eras in Dortmund's history and he is currently looking to emulate that success in England, where he leads a Liverpool side steeped in history towards a league title that they have been waiting almost 30 years for. In 2017/18, he suffered the second UEFA Champions League final defeat of his career, after his loss to Bayern in 2013, and is seeking revenge over the Bavarians in this year's edition as the Reds meet the Bavarians in the last 16.