For those of you that have been following me on twitter since this past August you would know that this season I’ve been having an extra-marital affair on Manchester United with Borussia Dortmund. Why? Well because of David Moyes Manchester United is not participating in the Champions League. Therefore I decided that in order to keep my interest in the Champions League sky high, and give me someone to root for instead of just rooting against all of United’s rivals, I needed to find a team to throw my support behind.
I had a few criteria for picking a team. They had to be a big enough club from a competive league that they stood a chance of winning the whole thing, but an outside chance. They had to play a fun brand of football; why would I choose to watch a boring team? Most importantly, they couldn’t have a rivalry with United since that would create a conflict of interest. That eliminated Spanish clubs like Barcelona (beat us in the final in 2009 and 2011), Real Madrid (took Ronaldo from us, and their just not fun). In addition it eliminated any team from Italy (we seem to always play Italian clubs every year) and France (their French).
So that left Germany, which really leaves two teams. Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund. It couldn’t be Bayern since I already hate them for a laundry list of reasons: Arjen Robben’s strike to knock out United in 2010, knocking out United in 2014, failing to beat Jose Mourinho’s Inter squad in the 2010 final, failing to beat Chelsea in the 2012 final (AT HOME), and beating Dortmund in the 2013 final are just a few of them.
So then we have Borussia Dortmund the perfect fit, especially in terms of not having a rivalry; the clubs haven’t played each other since 1997, and before that had only met in 1956 and 1964. BVB is like the Mets to Bayern’s Yankees, only back when the Mets were kinda sorta competitive. They don’t make the most money, and actually went into massive amounts of debt that nearly ruined the club in the mid 2000’s (sound familiar). But they brought in the right manager, who built the team with exciting young players and suddenly the team won back to back Bundesliga titles in 2011 and 2012 (ahead of a Bayern Munich squad that not only has some of the worlds best players, but made the Champions League Final in 2010, 2012, 2013 and featured the core of the 2014 German World Cup team) , the DFB Cup (the German FA Cup) in 2012, and made the Champions League final in 2013.
There were two other very important factors. Thanks to manager Jurgen Klopp the team plays a very up tempo and exciting quality of play which one of my friend was able to describe as “they’re an Arsenal that wins.”
I did a little research about the club, read up on it’s history and then I went back and watched some YouTube videos of the 2012 title winning squad. I came away thinking, wow this team is really good and I’m sold. The other major factor is Dortmund’s home stadium, The Westfalenstadion, which is now named Signal Iduna Park because not having a corporate sponsorship is throwing away free $$ (also remember how I said they had massive amount of debt in the early ’00’s. Well this helped get them back in the game). The biggest feature of the Westfalenstadion is the south stand, a massive 25,000 no seats standing room only pen (you know, the kind that England has banned in all their stadia because fans get too rowdy and they’re incredibly dangerous), which has been nicknamed the “Wall of Yellow.”
This helps turn the Westfalenstadion into one of the craziest, most intense atmosphere’s in all of Europe, and gives Dortmund one of the best home field advantages in Europe. From a spectators point of view, it makes watching a match there awesome.
So I hopped on board the Dortmund Champions League bandwagon. I read their history, started a career mode with them on FIFA to learn all their players and I was set. The Bundesliga isn’t exactly easily available to be watched in America so I’ve only vaguely followed them domestically, which has the made the affair even better. This has been perfect because as soon as I joined the bandwagon Dortmund’s domestic form has STUNK. The club got off to a historically bad start that left them in second to last place when the season hit the winter break at the halfway point. It was so bad that I even had friends blaming me for brining my recent United stink over to Dortmund and causing the tailspin.
Oddly enough, despite BVB’s inability to win anything over the weekend, they still progressed through the group stages of the Champions League without breaking a sweat. The problem is it’s incredibly hard to predict how they’ll do because you have no idea which team will show up.
They lost the first leg of the round of 16 tie to Juventus 2-1, not at all the end of the world with the second leg back at home. But they really need to turn it around and win the home leg simply because I’m not ready for my Dortmund affair to end.
At this point of the season Manchester United are far from a lock to go back to the Champions League next season and it would take a near-miracle for Dortmund to climb back up the Bundesliga table and finish in the Top four. So let’s keep this run going because Dortmund are fun and I’m not ready to lose them just yet and have to go through this whole stinken process again next year.