Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Dortmund-Arsenal preview: Lewandowski unstoppable?

November 5, 2013 by  
Filed under UEFA Champions League

Since Juergen Klopp took over Borussia Dortmund, the charismatic manager has transformed the team from the doldrums to become one of the most powerful figureheads in German football. In a league that has had several triumphant victors in recent seasons with the alpha-club, Bayern Munich, still a dominant force, Klopp and his young hordes stormed the Bundesliga and won it for two seasons in a row before Bayern reclaimed the crown last season.

Last season, Dortmund’s campaign ended on a rather sad note last season following the losses to Bayern Munich in the DFB Pokal as well as the Champions League final in Wembley. Bayern ran away with the league a long while ago so it turned out to be a trophyless campaign for Klopp’s side but nothing hurt more than losing their prized asset, Mario Gotze, to Bayern after his release clause was met by the Bavarian outfit.

Instead of sulking over the loss of a hugely important player like Gotze, BVB invested with the earnings on three key signings in strategic positions as Shakhtar Donetsk’s highest goalscorer in the league, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, replaced Gotze, Saint Etienne’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang added a goalscoring threat and Werder Bremen’s Sokratis Papastathopoulos shored things up at the back.

Dortmund exerted their first share of revenge on Bayern and their new manager, Pep Guardiola, in the German Super Cup as goals from Marco Reus and Ilkay Gundogan put Bayern to the sword as they claimed their first trophy of the season.

Dortmund’s Champions League adventure has had a couple of twists and turns as they lost their opening game to SSC Napoli before defeating Olympique Marseille and Arsenal to give the group a rather interesting outlook. Arsenal, Dortmund and Napoli all share six points each with Marseille languishing at the bottom without a solitary point.

Dortmund’s Bundesliga campaign has seen them resume normal service at the summit of the table and they are just a point adrift from the league leaders, Bayern Munich. Dortmund has played 11 games in the Bundesliga and have notched up nine wins which includes the likes of Bremen, Hamburg and Schalke, a draw against Nuremberg and a single loss to Borussia Monchengladbach,

Dortmund’s last league game was a home clash with VFB Stuttgart on the Bundesliga Friday night fixture. Klopp fielded a very strong side that looked like this,

It took the home side just 19 minutes for the floodgates to open as Sokratis Papastathopoulos headed the ball home before Marco Reus grabbed the second after an amazing solo run. The Greek defender got a brace at the start of the second half then the fans tuned into the Robert Lewandowski show as he scored a scintillating hat-trick in just 18 minutes.

The first arrived courtesy of a Reus flick that was dispatched easily by the Pole. Two minutes later, he latched unto a through ball from Mkhitaryan, left the defenders for dead, dribbled past the goalie and slotted the ball into an empty net. His third was a rather opportunistic effort as Kuba’s goal-bound shot slammed the cross bar but Lewandowski reacted quickly before Stuttgart’s hapless defenders to score the goal.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang got the icing on a well-baked cake when he chipped the goalie to score his eighth goal since joining the club in the summer. Dortmund couldn’t have wished for a better signing.

Lewandowski might have his heart fixed elsewhere (Bayern Munich could be your definition of “elsewhere”) but he has played his heart out for his team this season, leading the club’s scoring charts with 13 goals while Reus (9) and PEA (8) are not far behind. Arsenal has to be wary of the threat he’d pose tomorrow and he has already proved that by scoring the winning goal at the Emirates when both sides met a fortnight ago.

With his contract expiring in the summer, his departure will be a very bitter pill to swallow for Juergen Klopp, his teammates and the club at large. Lewandowski is one of the most complete forwards in world football right now and his hat-trick last weekend showed that he’s a poacher that most teams could kill for.

His link up play is perfect and his intelligent off the ball movement is a constant thorn in the flesh of opposition defenders. Last season, he scored 36 goals in 49 appearances with 10 of them coming in the Champions League and he will never be forgotten for his exploits against Real Madrid in the semifinals where he wreaked havoc on the Spanish outfit’s defense with an amazing four-goal haul.

 

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