Dortmund - Two games, six points, top of the early Bundesliga standings on goal difference, and that on the back of an impressive 4-2 victory over FC Bayern Munich in the season curtain-raising DFL Supercup. Borussia Dortmund have every reason to be well satisfied with their start into the 2013/14 campaign.
Points the priority
The latter of those league successes, a hard-earned 2-1 home victory over newly-promoted Eintracht Braunschweig, may not emerge as the most memorable of games come the season's end, but it did include one orignal highlight: the delayed competitive debut for one Henrikh Mkhitaryan.
It was a fairly low-key bow for the Armenian, overshadowed by youngster Jonas Hofmann's match-winning exploits from the subsitutes' bench. Mkhitaryan, fit again after a month out with an ankle injury, was keeping it all in perspective after the final whistle, though: "It was my first game in a BVB shirt and I´m very happy, but more importantly we got the three points."
On the day, the Yellow-Blacks seemed to be missing the creative machinations of the crocked Ilkay Gündogan, but once both are fit, sparks could fly for BVB. Indeed, the interplay between the Germany international, probably in a more deep-lying role, and the summer arrival from FC Shakhtar Donetsk will most likely be pivotal to head coach Jürgen Klopp's rejigged strategy in the post-Mario Götze era.
For most followers of the German game, Mkhitaryan was, at best, an insider tip prior to his arrival in the Ruhr district. Dortmund's top brass unquestionably knew what they were getting, however, when they finally closed the deal with Shakhtar for the 24-year-old. “It wasn't an easy transfer, but we desperately wanted Henrikh, and now we've got him,” CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke summarised at the time.
The feeling was evidently mutual for BVB's new record signing, who was able to sign on the dotted line for the 2013 UEFA Champions League finalists after a protracted transfer. At his formal unveiling, he was presented with the No. 10 shirt vacated by FC Bayern Munich-bound Götze, in what was no mere symbolic gesture. His 25-goal haul in 29 league games last season set a new Ukrainian record, all the more impressive given that the man from Yerevan was operating for the most part in an advanced midfield role rather than as an out-and-out striker.
On that note, Mkhitaryan himself acknowledged that against Braunschweig, "I had a couple of good chances that I didn't make use of. I didn't have any luck today, hopefully it'll be different in the next game." Next up for Dortmund is the Matchday 3 opener on Friday evening against Werder Bremen, who have likewise taken maximum points from their first two matches.
The Yellow-Blacks have home advantage again for this one and Mkhitaryan is certainly looking forward to his next dose of that Signal Iduna Park feeling. "It's not just the atmosphere in the (25,000-capacity) south stand that's impressive, it's the whole stadium," he said after experiencing it for the first time as a Borussia player. "Everyone's singing and making a contribution. All they want is for Dortmund to win. Every game, every day." It's likely to be twice as loud when he scores his first goal for the Yellow Blacks.