What's in there...
...for Borussia? A typical question popping up once a year, just before the new season begins. Its sub-questions are not less often heard: How well assembled is the new team? Will the lack of those left have an impact on overall quality? And most important: What place in the table can be realistically aimed at?
Working on these questions, one should remarkably note that all Dortmunders were quite resilient when it came to the very same questions last year. Despite having a stadium with attendance fairly enough to be among the top 3 in Europe, positions in Bundesliga tables weren't as impressive. Therefore both the club and supporters were quite modest on expectations for last season - and were finally rewarded by passionate gameplay, great fights and - almost - a happy end boosting us right to Europe. The team remains pretty much the same - are we therefore supposed to dream of more? Not really. We should keep being modest for more time and hope for great surprises.
Spectacular new players are lacking the line-up this season. With youngsters such as Großkreutz and Bender, great talents are ready to rock, but nothing too tremendous should be expected from them. Notably, Rangelov and Feulner, the only new ones with a fair amount of Bundesliga experience, may impose competition, but no wonders are to be linked to their performances. So, given that other teams (Munich, Stuttgart, Bremen and Sch****,Hoppenheim,...) are willing to spend a good amount of Euros and build up teams with high individual quality, isn't this a disadvantage in the fight for Europe?
No, it is not. Firstly, last year's team was quite well assembled already. The defense tremendously finished off second best, the midfield saw a strong Kehl, a value-adding Hajnal and an excellent right side gamplay conducted by Kuba (especially in the first half of the season). The attack saw a revitalised Valdez, an important Zidan and Alex Frei reinforcing his strengths. Secondly, this good basis is now supplemented by intelligent decisions: Feulner is to provide Klopp with more variability in the midfield as he can now play with both one attacking midfielder (current formation) or with two defensive and two attacking ones. Also, Rangelov, fitting into Klopp's aggressive gameplay, may become an asset as he allows at least some substitution potential for Valdez as the way he is playing resembles the fighting, running and jumping without constraint of the south-American striker.
And those who are out?
Is Borussia vulnerable due to those who have left the team. It is pretty sure that Gordon, Federico and Rukavina do not lead to the team being decisively weakened. But what about Lee and Boateng? As for Lee, we can say hat the is a reliable and worthy right wing back. But, there are good arguments to show that the team is not negatively affected by Lee's exodus. Florian Kringe can, also as a result of Feulner's presence, be quite an experienced back-up for Owomoyela and Schmelzer is certainly a promising candidate for the left wing back. As for Boateng, it is true that we are unlikely to be able to afford a player of that quality in the short-run. However, due to injuries he was rarely playing during the second round and Borussia did well - with less variation and quality than this season.
What can we realistically hope for?
The official answer to this question is that there is no target rank anyone aimes at. However, unofficially, it is natural that Borussia has an eye on the European qualifiers. Just think of Klopp's statement according to which he is determined to „push the team to its limits which weren't reached last season". This clearly indicates that officials at Strobelallee are hoping for a better result than last year - and this would clearly mean the qualifiers for the Euroleague. Is that a little too optimistic? No, it is not. Firstly, the competitors are likely to spend more than Borussia, but given the current market (expensive and cheap players available, no impressive quality available at moderate prices) and the need of accommodation for new players into (the ever different) Bundesliga, these teams will not easily overtake Borussia, which is, by the way, a difficult team to beat.
It is definitely more important whether Borussia will be able to stick to last year's performance - and this clearly relies on a) whether the youngsters will remain playing out their qualities and b) whether mature key players (Kehl, Hajnal, Frei) will be in good shape and thus make use of their full skills.
Whatever happens, we can be sure of one thing that we can easily hope for: Passionating football with the team's willingness to fight down any opponent.