Dortmund – They may have been the last of the 18 Bundesliga clubs to commence preparations for the upcoming season, but Borussia Dortmund had good reason for delaying their return to the training pitch. “After the strains of playing in Europe [in 2012/13], we needed to give the players as much time off as possible,” said coach Jürgen Klopp.
Faith in the squad
More than a few of them seemed to suffer from fatigue in the final weeks of last season and Klopp will be well aware of the need for each squad member to have received adequate rest before another taxing campaign competing with FC Bayern Munich. “We’re not planning on playing football in their shadow," added Klopp.
Yet it would be false to suggest the Westphalians had been doing nothing but relaxing since their last game, defeat to the Reds in the final of the UEFA Champions League on May 25.
“My players have been training individually for the past three and a half weeks,” Klopp added, quelling any doubts that the Yellow Blacks might not be quite ready for the restart. “We’ve been together for five years. I trust them blindly, and they’ve paid me back so far.”
One new arrival BVB is Sokratis Papastathopoulos, signed from Werder Bremen this summer. He will provide back-up to injured full-back Lukasz Piszczek, but his main job will be to help shore up a defence that, despite being second only to Bayern’s in the Champions League, left a lot to be desired domestically.
“There is a direct link between the many goals we conceded and the points we lacked,” believes Klopp. In terms of goals scored, Dortmund netted one more than they had done in winning the title a year ago, but having lost Mario Götze to Bayern, one extremely effective supply line has been cut off this summer.
Emerging from Bayern's slipstream
Step up Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, signed this week from French side AS Saint Etienne. "He's extremely versatile in the forward positions, has exceptional speed and is a real goal-threat," said BVB sporting director Michael Zorc.
Dortmund's fans will get to see the latest additions under the floodlights of Signal Iduna Park on Saturday night as they have their first game of pre-season, a charity run-out against Sat1 heroes. Sokratis and Aubameyang, who landed in Dortmund on Saturday, are due to be presented at the game, the official opening of the stadium for the new season.