The 49th instalment of Germany’s top professional league began much the way it finished last term – with a 3-1 home win for Deutscher Meister Borussia Dortmund.
The side they beat last May were of course Eintracht Frankfurt, who had to bare the ignominy of being relegated on the day their opponents lifted the Salad Bowl. This weekend, it was Hamburg who were blown out of the water by the incisive and thrusting style Jürgen Klopp has impressed upon his young side.
Dortmund were simply too good on the night for a young and very much ‘work-in-progress’ Hamburg. Nuri Sahin may be gone, Lucas Barrios and Marcel Schmelzer might be injured, but die Schwatzgelben nonchalantly disposed of Michael Oenning’s men within 48 minutes.
Dortmund were vibrant from the start. Quick, purposeful passing was backed up with pressing that bordered on harassment at times. Their midfield, on paper largely the same as last year but with Ilkay Gündogan in for the departed Sahin, popped the ball around swiftly like they’d never been away. Ex-Nürnberger Gündogan lined up alongside Sven Bender, but it was Shinji Kagawa who often dropped deep in order to create room high up the pitch.
This Dortmund side is beginning to draw tentative comparisons with a certain Catalan outfit. There are similarities with the way they conduct themselves off the ball, but Borussia’s first goal showed they are not afraid to go direct. A long punt upfield was controlled by Lewandowski, who turned and gave the ball to Götze. One pass, a hopelessly out of position Dennis Diekmeier, and two Kevin Groβkreutz touches later, the ball was in the back of the net.
By this stage, Dortmund were rampant. Kagawa hit the post after seemingly doing all the hard work. Minutes later Groβkreutz was again away down the left and his clever pull back found the Japanese in acres once again. This time Shinji pushed his shot wide of Drobny’s goal.