Borussia Dortmund have been scoring freely in their bid to be crowned Bundesliga champions for the first time since 2012. Eighteen players have netted in the league already, but can Lucien Favre’s men break Werder Bremen’s record of 20 different scorers over a season?
Bremen set the current mark in the 2007/08 campaign, when they unsurprisingly finished as the Bundesliga’s top scorers that season. That squad had plenty of firepower in the shape of Markus Rosenberg, Hugo Almeida and Brazilian playmaker Diego, while future FIFA World Cup winners Mesut Özil and Per Mertesacker were also among the 20 players who netted for the Green-Whites in the league.
Bremen scored 75 goals in 34 Bundesliga matches that season, though a leaky defence meant they could only finish second in the table – 10 points behind Bayern Munich. The signing of Claudio Pizarro the following summer meant the goals didn’t need to be shared around as much in 2008/09, but it did help Thomas Schaaf’s men win the DFB Cup – thanks to an Özil winner against Bayer Leverkusen – and to reach the UEFA Cup final.
The 2018/19 Dortmund squad have been getting goals from almost as many players as the 07/08 Bremen team, with Dan Axel-Zagadou becoming the 18th different scorer when he hit the target in the 3-2 win over Bayer Leverkusen on Matchday 23. But who needs to score if Dortmund are to match or even beat the previous record?
Of the current Dortmund squad who have featured in the league this season, only centre-back Ömer Toprak and former captain Marcel Schmelzer have yet to get on the scoresheet. Toprak scored at least once in the league for five years in a row with Leverkusen, but the Turkey international failed to continue that run in his first campaign with Dortmund.
The 29-year-old may have only started one league game this season, but his record suggests that – in a more settled side – he could get more chances to edge Dortmund closer to Bremen’s tally. That’s assuming, of course, that he is over the injury problems that have played a part in him being restricted to just six Bundesliga appearances in 2018/19.
The likelihood of Schmelzer netting before the end of the season is perhaps more remote. A bad ankle injury has resulted in the left-back playing only seven league games this season, the last of which was as a substitute in January’s 5-1 victory over Hannover.
Watch: Dortmund's free-scoring tactics under Favre this season
Added to that, though, Schmelzer’s previous goalscoring record suggests that the former Germany international might not find the net in the final 11 games of the season. The 31-year-old has only scored twice in the Bundesliga in his entire career, with his last goal coming in September 2013.
Winter signing Leonardo Balerdi, meanwhile, is highly thought of but he is an unknown quantity in goalscoring terms. The 20-year-old Argentine, after all, played just five league games for Boca Juniors before joining Dortmund in January. If the defender does feature before the end of the campaign, it could perhaps be when Dortmund are trying to protect a vital lead late in a game – rather than looking to add to it.
The young guns in attack
Another couple of youngsters – albeit down the pecking order – might also be harbouring hopes of making some cameo appearances before the end of the campaign. Favre has shown considerable trust in teenagers like Jadon Sancho already, so – if they replicate the English teenager’s ability to seize an opportunity – why couldn’t others follow suit?
Ex-Barcelona midfielder Sergio Gomez has a couple of goals for Dortmund’s U23 side this season, and the 18-year-old is an attack-minded player. He also netted twice in pre-season for the first team as well as featuring in last summer’s International Champions Cup.
Although he did get game time during further friendlies over the winter break, Gomez has yet to even make the bench in a competitive fixture this season. The Spain U19 international did play twice as a substitute last season so perhaps – with the league already in the bag? – he might get another chance to shine – and get on the scoresheet – before the current campaign is over.
Another teen doing his best to get noticed by the first-team management is Emre Aydinel. The Turkey U19 international has been in prolific form for Dortmund’s U19s over the past two years, scoring 31 league goals to date. Aydinel, who turned 19 in January, has 12 goals in 18 matches this term.
This season will surely come too soon for Youssoufa Moukoko, but the well-built 14-year-old is still posting some staggering numbers. He has 31 goals in 14 matches for Dortmund’s U17 side in 2018/19.
Swedish youngster Alexander Isak and Japan international Shinji Kagawa both left on loan over the winter so there is hope for the likes of Gomez and Aydinel. It might take a late season injury crisis in attack, however, for them to get their break.
The goalscoring goalkeepers
Unless he starts taking free-kicks or becomes the designated penalty taker, the chances of Roman Bürki adding his name to Dortmund’s list of Bundesliga scorers are slim. But who knows? In need of a late goal to swing the title race their way, could the Swiss stopper become a surprise scorer?
Well, strange things happen in football. Already this season we saw Union Berlin goalkeeper Rafal Gikiewicz rescue a point by heading home an injury-time equaliser in a Bundesliga 2 game between Union Berlin and Heidenheim. Back in December 1997, meanwhile, Schalke keeper Jens Lehmann – a future BVB netminder – popped up with a last-gasp leveller for the Royal Blues in a memorable Revierderby against Dortmund.
While Dortmund fans won’t thank us for reminding them of that one, they might also recall that their club do currently have a goalkeeper on the books who has already scored in a Bundesliga game. In February 2015, Marwin Hitz – who deputised for the injured Bürki in this season’s 3-2 win over Bayern – volleyed home from close range in the 94th minute of Augsburg’s 2-2 draw with Bayer Leverkusen.
A rare occurrence for sure, but it might take something similar if Dortmund are to surpass Bremen’s remarkable goalscoring record.