A new-look Borussia Dortmund may not have been able to win the first title of the season, but their performance in the Supercup on Sunday highlighted that Thomas Tuchel's men could be a serious title challenger for FC Bayern München this season.
Dortmund put in a muscular display and were the better team for most of the match, with their dominance reflected in the statistics: 20 shots on goal to Bayern's nine, 54 per cent ball possession, and better passing and tackling rates. Tuchel was certainly impressed with his troops: “I'm excited by what the team invested and showed. They had good energy on the pitch.”
Given that the various new arrivals at Dortmund are still being integrated, Tuchel had initially expressed doubt prior to kick-off, saying: "There have been better times to challenge Bayern." Yet he need not have worried, as his players more than held their own and created several high calibre chances. "We managed to keep Bayern in their own half," said Sebastian Rode afterwards. "We can take a lot of positives from this performance."
Rode is one of several new players in BVB’s squad, and the former Bayern midfielder was seemingly everywhere on Sunday, providing the impetus for the Schwarz-Gelben’s dominant display. Furthermore, Marc Bartra showed that he has the ability to replace Mats Hummels—not only in his defensive play, but also in terms of acting as a playmaker from the back.
Furthermore, in Ousmane Dembele, Dortmund appear to have unearthed a rough diamond. The 19-year-old has room for improvement in his defensive game, but his attacking quality is undeniable and provided a real challenge for Bayern’s defence. On the other wing, 18-year-old Felix Passlack was remarkably assured in his role as right-back, and did not look out of his depth against Frank Ribery.
Tuchel: 'We took another step forwards'
Ultimately, Dortmund lost because they failed to convert any of their many chances. "You could see Bayern’s cleverness today - they were just more efficient," Passlack said afterwards. Marcel Schmelzer struck a similar chord: "This has been a problem for us throughout our pre-season preparations. We always play well, but we don’t score."
Tuchel, meanwhile, focused on a different area of improvement: "Our task is to maintain compactness and energy in our actions, not to be pushed back and to keep going over the course of 90 minutes."
That looks eminently possible, with Julian Weigl, Mario Götze, Andre Schürrle, Lukas Piszczek, and Raphael Guerreiro all to come into the side, having played little or no part in the Supercup. It was therefore no surprise that Tuchel was cautiously optimistic going into the new Bundesliga season: "We managed to take one step forward against Bayern, but the path is still long."