Number of sell outs: 13 (3rd)
Top scorer: Lucas Barrios (16)
Most assists: Mario Götze (11)
Red cards: 1 (Subotic)
Most minutes: Marcel Schmelzer – 3060
An opening day home defeat to Leverkusen, group stage elimination from the Europa League and dumped out of the Pokal at third division Kickers Offenbach… Three things you probably wouldn’t associate with runaway champions.
Yet that’s what Borussia Dortmund were in 2010/11. Deserved Deutscher Meisters for the 7th time.
After the initial setback at home to eventual runners-up Leverkusen, Jürgen Klopp’s men didn’t take long to get into their stride. Week 4 saw them embarrass fiercest rivals Schalke in Gelsenkirchen courtesy of a Shinji Kagawa – never mind Chicharito, here’s a contender for ‘buy of the century’ – masterclass, whilst leaving Null-Vier bottom with null points.
Nuri Sahin’s late winner at Köln in week 8 saw Dortmund occupy first place for the first time, but it was the victory at surprise early leaders Mainz two weeks later that started their procession towards the title. Victory after victory (eight on the spin) on the road before Christmas – halted by Gekas’ solitary strike in snowy Frankfurt – laid the foundation for Herbstmeister Dortmund’s 10 point lead at half way.
Teeming with talent, the youngest ever side to win the Bundesliga began term two in much the same vein with quite frankly embarrassingly easy victories at Leverkusen and Wolfsburg. From then it wasn’t such plain sailing, yet their week 24 win at struggling Bayern confirmed they were indeed the current kings and dispelled evidently nonsensical accusations that their young players couldn’t ‘handle the pressure.’ Missing the effervescent Kagawa for all but three minutes of the second leg, Dortmund’s free scoring was partially quelled but the league’s best defence – led by the impressive Hummels and marshalled by Weidenfeller in goal – kept them largely comfortable throughout.
At one point the title looked like it’d be sewn up in March but with the win at Bayern their last on the road, Leverkusen were slowly nibbling away at the once 12 point lead. When things began to look a little nervy, young stars like Mario Götze belied their age and pulled their team through – ask Hannover. Heading into injury time in week 29 at Hamburg, the gap stood at just four points. A Kuba volley and a touching-on-insane touchline sprint from Klopp later and things looked a tad rosier.
As it was, it took until week 32 for die Borussen to wrap up the title, when a combination of their home win against Nürnberg and Leverkusen’s surprise defeat at out-of-form Köln was enough to seal their fourth Bundesliga crown and send Neven Subotic driving around Dortmund with a video camera.
Two weeks later Dortmund went about, after a moment’s worry, relegating Eintracht Frankfurt before they lifted the Shield. Before then, there was still a chance for Dede to cap a fairytale final season with a penalty in front of the Südtribune…. but with four penalty misses from four attempts throughout the season, of course he’d miss. Still, he didn’t look too bothered about it half an hour later when he embarked on his fourth or fifth lap of honour with Shield in hand.
Over 400,000 turned out on the Sunday for the civic reception. The bleary-eyed Kevin Groβkreutz hit the season’s nail on the head when interviewed – ‘Unglaublich. Unglaublich.’ [‘Unbelievable’]
Player of the season: Mats Hummels
In a season where the top five of Kicker.de’s ‘Topspieler’ rankings were all part of Jürgen Klopp’s title winning side – Hummels, Kagawa, Sahin, Götze and Bender – you’re on a hiding to nothing in trying to pick player of the year. As it is, we’ve plumped for Kicker’s #1 – Mats Hummels.
The 22 year old defender made 32 appearances at the heart of Dortmund’s defence. Forming a near unbreakable partnership with Neven Subotic, the former Bayern (oh how they must rue the day they let him go) centre-back was part of 13 clean sheets this season. A stand out player, even now in the German national team, Hummels is not just a great defender. He has bagged five league goals this season and with a great eye for a pass, Hummels was often the instigator of an attack – winning the ball and linking up with Sahin almost without fail.
Sahin’s contribution to Dortmund’s 7th German championship strikes the same chords as his move to Real Madrid – gone but not forgotten. The German-born Turkish international, playing alongside Sven Bender in the centre of midfield, was given the deep-lying playmaker role by Klopp, and his main remit was to link the play. A ‘real pass master’ as Martin Tyler on FIFA11 so eloquently describes him, Sahin’s left foot is a wand. Impossible to rob of the ball, Sahin looked to go forward often – around two thirds of his 1800 passes were towards the opposition’s goal. He made more key passes (3.61 per game) than any player in Europe’s top leagues. With six goals – including his infamous winner at Köln following a spat with Lukas Podolski – and eight assists on top, Sahin will be sorely missed next season.
Once subbed for being ‘too good,’ Mario Götze played a crucial part in the elegant and imaginative brand of football Borussia Dortmund have treated us to this season. The young playmaker has excited the nation and Europe and will seemingly be forever linked to the likes of Manchester United and Arsenal. Chipping in with a team-high 11 assists, ‘Super Mario’ also notched up six neatly taken goals – including the stunning solo effort that turned an increasingly desperate home afternoon against Hannover on its head and restarted Dortmund’s charge to the title. Klopp may consider playing him in the role that Nuri Sahin has vacated next season.
Best signing: Łukasz Piszczek
The obvious choice may have been Shinji Kagawa – bought at a steal (around £300k) from Japanese second division side Cerezo Osaka – but right-back Łukasz Piszczek has been a revelation for Jürgen Klopp’s side. Acquired on a free from relegated Hertha in May last year, Piszczek took the reins at right-back when the unfortunate Patrick Owomoyela needed surgery on his Achilles tendon early on. ‘Pischo’ never looked back and became an integral part of the league’s best defence.
With plenty of career experience as a winger, the Pole provided great width and with crossing equally as adept as his defending, he weighed in with five assists for Dortmund.
Season rating: A+
A season not only the most ardent Borussia Dortmund fan could’ve predicted. Unquestionably talented, undeniably exciting, 2010/11 really was a season to remember for die Borussen.