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From Bundesliga struggles to European success: Dortmund's surprising Champions League journey

17. April 2024
Borussia Dortmund (foto: Getty Images)
Borussia Dortmund's progression to the Champions League semifinals has been the season's biggest surprise, particularly given their modest domestic performance and the departure of key players.

Despite languishing in fifth place in the Bundesliga and facing ongoing coaching debates, Dortmund has found unprecedented success in Europe this season. This is their first season without stars Erling Haaland and Jude Bellingham, who had elevated the club's global standing during their tenure. The current squad, seemingly older and less innovative, lacked the star power of their predecessors, with players like Karim Adeyemi and Youssoufa Moukoko failing to meet previous high expectations.   

Amid these challenges, Dortmund brought back Jadon Sancho and acquired Ian Maatsen in January to stabilize the team. Against all odds, Dortmund delivered a performance reminiscent of their golden years under Jürgen Klopp—energetic, fast-paced, and overwhelming for their opponents. In their recent match against Atlético Madrid, dynamic contributions from Marcel Sabitzer and Julian Brandt, combined with heroic defensive efforts by Nico Schlotterbeck and Mats Hummels, revived the spirit of Dortmund's past.   

Dortmund's return to the Champions League semifinals for the first time since 2013, where they will face PSG, is a remarkable achievement. Their journey this season included topping the "group of death" featuring PSG, Milan, and Newcastle, and eliminating PSV in the round of 16—a feat reminiscent of Ajax's impressive runs in past seasons.   

Signal Iduna Park has become a fortress where Dortmund has managed to remain unbeaten at home in the Champions League for ten consecutive matches, setting a new club record. This season's success is notably ironic considering that during Haaland and Bellingham's tenure, Dortmund had less impressive finishes in European competitions.   

Dortmund's unexpected resurgence in the Champions League is a testament to the unpredictable nature of football, where legacy and resilience often lead to remarkable tales of triumph against the odds.

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