Cologne – It was an arrival with a capital 'A'. Borussia Dortmund's exhilarating performance against Borussia Mönchengladbach was one of the defining memories of Matchday 1, but it may not have been possible had it not been for the outstanding debut of a 19-year-old new recruit who was entrusted with filling the boots of retired captain Sebastian Kehl by new coach Thomas Tuchel.
bundesliga.com presents Julian Weigl and analyses the strengths and prospects of a player who took the league by storm on Matchday 1.
Translation: "It's just fantastic! Long may it continue! Many thanks for your support! I'm speechless"
In the fast lane
Weigl took his first steps in the game with SV Ostermünchen and TSV 1860 Rosenheim before joining Bundesliga 2 outfit TSV 1860 München, where the Bad Aibling-born youngster progressed through the under-17s and under-19s into the first team, making his Bundesliga 2 debut in February 2014.
He also etched his name in the Bavarian club's history books by becoming their youngest-ever captain last season, at the age of 18, even though he only wore the armband twice. He made a total of 24 Bundesliga 2 appearances last term, helping the Lions avoid relegation to the third division in their play-off win over Holstein Kiel.
Not out of his depth
His performances in those games were the last evidence Dortmund needed to snap him up this summer and hand him his Bundesliga debut in front of over 80,000 fans at the Signal Iduna Park. He lifted the roof.
There was no need to test the water, Weigl was primed and ready for his Bundesliga debut. Just look at the statistics: only four of his 84 passes did not find a black and yellow shirt and his partnership with Ilkay Gündogan appeared to have been established years hence. Both gave stability and creativity to the midfield, while refusing to let Gladbach's counterattacking qualities come to the surface.
Pass and move, it's the Weigl groove
Josip Drmic and Rafael did not get near Dortmund's four defenders on Saturday - Weigl and Gündogan simply didn't let them. And with Thomas Tuchel preaching a style of play which disregards the words 'long' and 'ball' in favour of a more constructive build-up play, Weigl seems to have found his master. With his pass accuracy (the best on the field), he ensured Tuchel got the brand of football he wanted, and so too did the fans.
In addition to his startlingly good passing statistics, he covered 11.7 kilometres against Gladbach – more than any of his team-mates. It is therefore unsurprising that In BVB's first four official fixtures this season, including the UEFA Europa League and DFB Cup, Weigl has made three starts. Looking back on all those performances, you would struggle to ascertain that he was the new kid on the block.
"The well-trained sorcerer's apprentice" (Süddeutsche Zeitung), "As elegant as [Franz] Beckenbauer" (Kicker) – those are just two examples of how the German media rated the latest produce of 1860's impressive youth system.
"As a player at 1860 Munich, you do look at who else has already taken the path you dream of taking, and the Bender twins Sven and Lars obviously spring to mind," Weigl told the Ruhrnachrichten. It won't be long before the next generation of 1860 talent will be dreaming of following Weigl's path in future.
By Patrick Eckholt and Ben Gladwell