Borussia Dortmund entered this year’s Champions League as dark horses with the after making it back-to-back Bundesliga titles last season.
Having flopped last year, Jurgen Klopp’s men certainly proved that they can hang with the big boys this time around as they topped their group, ahead of Real Madrid, Ajax, and Manchester City. Now into the knockout phases, BVB are still going strong, securing a credible 2-2 draw with Shakhtar Donestk in the first leg of their last-16 tie.
The draw in the Ukraine showcased many of the skills needed to win the Champions League but could it be the one facet money can’t buy – experience – which costs Dortmund a second European crown?
A quick look through the squad list at the player’s ages tells you that the majority of Dortmund’s talent is either at its peak or not far away. However, a look at each individual player’s record will tell you that they are entering new waters by reaching this stage of the Champions League.
Experience at this level of European football is key, as Chelsea proved last year, when all the hard lessons they had learned over the seasons paid dividends when they lifted the trophy with the big ears in Munich.
Players with the same kind of European nous as John Terry and Didier Drogba are absent from the Dortmund team though. No doubt the likes of Mats Hummels and Marco Reus will have plenty of experience come the end of their careers – they are too good not to – but this season may be a little too early for Klopp and co to start clearing a spot in the trophy cabinet.
Dortmund are rightly favourites to reach the quarter-finals of the tournament after last week’s result, and a kind draw in the last eight could see them go even further in Europe’s premier club competition.
However, if there is to be a winner from Germany this year, then you can look no further than the team 15 points clear of Dortmund at the top of the Bundesliga, Bayern Munich.