Dortmund show Germany the way

If Spain's squad at Euro 2012 will be built around a Barcelona core, Germany's current approach is in symbiotic harmony with the philosophy of Borussia Dortmund.

Bayern Munich may supply more players to the national squad (and Mats Hummels could conceivably be the only Dortmund player to start Germany's opening group match against Portugal on June 9), but in their style, their youthful effervescence, and their commitment to attacking football, Germany have drawn significant inspiration from the Dortmund model.

Scroll to continue with content

Dortmund's relentless pressing and high-octane approach play claimed another scalp on Saturday in the 2-0 defeat of Borussia Moenchengladbach that secured the Bundesliga title for a second successive year.

Even before Ivan Perisic had broken the deadlock with a header in the 23rd minute, Dortmund had gone close on several occasions through Robert Lewandowski and Shinji Kagawa. If there were nerves at the thought of what lay at stake, they were not evident. Dortmund were as smothering and insistent as ever — no other side in Europe's major leagues averages as many tackles per game (26.7, according to Who Scored?) and fourth-placed Gladbach had to weather 18 shots, eight of which were on target.

Kagawa's goal, in the 59th minute, brought Dortmund coach Juergen Klopp slip-sliding (quite literally) down the Westfalenstadion touchline to embrace the Japan international, who took up the mantle of Dortmund's chief creative outlet (13 goals and six assists in 27 appearances) after Mario Goetze succumbed to a groin injury in December that kept him out of action until a late substitute appearance on Saturday.

Nobody embodies the Dortmund spirit more than Klopp, whose manic celebrations characterise his team's energetic zeal as much as the darting runs of Kagawa or the probing forays of full-backs Lukasz Piszczek and Marcel Schmelzer.

Overlooked by Bayern when the Bavarians appointed Juergen Klinsmann in 2008, Klopp joined Dortmund from Mainz later that year and recently admitted that all he wanted was to be "somewhere where it's likely that you'll win more often than you lose".

Although he has been touted as a potential successor to Joachim Loew at the head of the national team, Klopp's contract runs until 2016 and he inspires a rare level of commitment among his players.

"This could have been our best season," a beer-drenched Klopp told German television as the celebrations raged in front of the Sudtribune. "We haven't lost in 26 league games, which is just crazy. And we have never had the feeling that we'd lose. It just went on and on."

Dortmund's run of 26 games without defeat (since a 2-1 loss at Hannover on September 18) is a record for a single season in the Bundesliga and they are also within sight of the overall points record for a campaign set by Bayern in 1971-72 and 1972-73 (Bayern picked up 55 points in both seasons, which works out at 79 points if three points are awarded for a win; Dortmund have 75 points with two games remaining).

Then there is the DFB-Pokal final against Bayern at Berlin's Olympiastadion on May 12, when Klopp's charges will go in search of a fifth consecutive win against Germany's grandest club.

Having proved that last season's title success was no flash in the pan, Dortmund must now aim to make some kind of impact on the international stage. This season's meek group-phase exit in the Champions League was a betrayal of the quality in Klopp's squad but the last Dortmund side to win back-to-back Bundesliga titles proved to be quick learners on the continental scene. After losing 3-0 on aggregate to Ajax in the quarter-finals of the Champions League in 1995-96, they came back the following season and won it.

The imminent arrival of Gladbach's Marco Reus means Dortmund could embark on next season's title defence with a dazzling attacking-midfield band of Reus, Goetze and Kagawa.

Both Goetze and Kagawa continue to be linked with moves away from the club (the former stating that he "doesn't want to rule anything out"), but they will both know that precious few teams in Europe can offer them the working conditions that they enjoy under Klopp, who is threatening to turn his club into German football's new standard-bearers.


Opta's European Team of the Week

Click the table below to view full size: