Lucien Favre has stepped in and transformed Borussia Dortmund into a ruthless side with balance and depth to boot.

By 90Min
October 25, 2018

It's the same old story in the Bundesliga this season; one team running away with the league title while playing a style of football which the rest of Germany's best clubs can't come close to matching.

Only this time, it's Borussia Dortmund who are head and shoulders above the rest of their competition, while reigning champions Bayern Munich are struggling four points off the top of the league table.

The Black and Yellow have offered some kind of a title fight in previous years, but somewhere along the line they tail off and the Bundesliga title ends up staying in Bavaria, with Bayern Munich often being crowned as champions at a canter.

This season, however, Borussia Dortmund look like the real deal, and anyone doubting their credentials were made to eat their words when the German giants thumped Atlético Madrid 4-0 in the Champions League on Wednesday - Los Colchoneros' biggest defeat under Diego Simeone.

There have been a number of factors behind Borussia Dortmund's success so far this season, and it would be rude not to start by looking at the impact of the new man in charge at the Westfalenstadion, Lucien Favre.

Appointed by the club's top brass following advice from Marco Reus, Favre's arrival was exciting right from the outset for fans of the Bundesliga.

"I know how great the hopes are," Fave said in August, via bundesliga.com. "Of course it’s our goal to build a team that can win titles in the long run - I can say that clearly."

Having previously worked with Reus and Mahmoud Dahoud at Borussia Mönchengladbach, Favre looked set to get the best out of players who were struggling to leave their mark on Dortmund's first team, and that's exactly what he has done.

What's more, the 60-year-old has once again blown fans away with his business in the transfer market. During his time at Borussia-Park, Favre unearthed the likes of Granit Xhaka, Yann Sommer and Thorgan Hazard.

At former side OGC Nice, Favre's scouting has seen the careers of Allan Saint-Maximin, Wylan Cyprien and Dalbert reach completely new heights, with the latter now playing his club football for Italian giants Inter.

With Dortmund, a number of seemingly underwhelming transfers have revolutionised the way the club plays. Axel Witsel's return to European football from China has perhaps highlighted Favre's ability in the transfer market better than most.

"Axel's a player of great international experience who brings all the qualities required to make a mark on the BVB midfield," sporting director Michael Zorc said upon the Belgian's arrival. "[He's got] tactical awareness, strength when challenging for the ball, pace, creativity, and mentality."

On the subject of summer arrivals, both Paco Alcácer and Achraf Hakimi swapped Spain's biggest clubs in favor of a stint in Germany, filling in two positions which were so vital in Borussia Dortmund's most recent glory days under Jürgen Klopp.

Alcácer and Hakimi have been revelations this season and the two players are now following the same path which saw Robert Lewandowski and Łukasz Piszczek become household names under the now-Liverpool boss.

Borussia Dortmund's squad right now has the perfect balance of players who know exactly what it means to step out in front of the Südtribüne, as well as stars from overseas.

Sprinkled in between all of that are some of the world's best young players, and there lies another key to their success.

The likes of Christian Pulisic, Jadon Sancho and Hakimi have been given the licence to try and create a spark in games this season, knowing full well that a steady base of Witsel and Thomas Delaney are there to soak up any danger.

Borussia Dortmund can attack teams the way that they want to attack teams without fearing of the consequences, as they know their opposition cannot overcommit players in the final third otherwise they will be punished.

Perhaps more important than the makeup of the team is that they are just that - a team. Down in southeastern Germany, Bayern Munich undoubtedly have a world class squad of players who could roll over anyone on their day.

But there is something within the Borussia Dortmund dressing room, which is lacking in Bayern's, which sets the Black and Yellow apart.

For all of Borussia Dortmund's nearly moments in recent years, the club has stumbled onto a winning formula. What's important now is that Favre's long-term vision has to take a backseat to focus solely on this season and winning silverware.

As much as they won't want to admit it, Borussia Dortmund are the favorites for the Bundesliga title this season. At this stage, the excitement surrounding this crop of players is only hype, but the days when die Schwarzgelben are once again taken seriously as a European heavyweight are just around the corner.

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