Monday, January 24, 2011

Borussia Dortmund are back

They used to be the benchmark of football the world over. They dominated Germany football and Europe for a while and then faded like stone washed jeans, but Borussia are back.

The end of the great AC Milan era of Ruud Gullit, Marco van Basten and Frank Rikjaard in the late 1980s, brought a sharp but brief craze of complete football dominance that differed from the pressing Arigo Sacchi philosophy obtained from basketball tactics. It was neither the Ducth total football born of the Johan Cryuff generation.

Borussia Durtmund strangulated opponents by totally subduing them the entire 90 minutes. They became a standard that was immediately emulated by neighbours, Bayern Munich, which saw the two teams reach one UEFA Champions' League final at one point. Their tactics and prowess was always accredited to massive mental strength enabling them to concentrate the entire match.

It was during those days, that even for one to be considered a coach, they needed a German qualification. However, the German and European giants went into hibernation, being a shadow of Bayern Munich, Leverkusern, Shalke 04, Kaiseslautern, Eintrancht Frankfurt, Werder Bremen and others.

Now, Borussia are back, and with a bang. They are 11 points clear at the top of Bundesliga, and with a goal difference of 31, they mean business. Having played 19 matches, they lost twice and drew as much. If they reach their potential as we know it, Barcelona and Manchester United have something to deal with. It could be the end of their dominance in Europe.

It will soon be seen if they can restrict teams outside the Bundesliga to the same psychological wrestling only they can win. It took teams to be well polished in their play to implement a strategy that could afford them a sniff the goal. On their part, Borussia needed a single shot at goal. The luxury of the second would be just that, excess.