ON A ROLL

larsen monacoFour wins and two draws in the league, with two necessary wins in the Champions League, is an unbelievable start for the season.  Dortmund now starts the month of October atop the Bundesliga and leading their Champions League group.  They are not yet the favorite to win either,  with Bayern and Atletico the teams they are gunning for, but for a new manager with so many new faces they are really playing well at times with fourteen goals in their last three games .  sancho monaco

Manager Lucien Favre may still be trying to get a read on the proper personnel and tactics, often making wholesale changes in both at the half, but he knows how to open the throttle when he needs goals.  The key appears to be substituting in far more uptempo players on the wing like Jadon Sancho and Jakob Bruun Larsen, while  Julian Weigl is getting his form back as a sub in central midfield.  Larsen started a bit rough in his debut, but he is scoring now and notching assists as well.  Sancho has supersonic speed and is a difference maker off the bench.  Christian Pulisic has had to deal with a few minor injuries this season, but his aggressiveness in the attack has produced results.  And Marco Reus is playing as well as just about anyone anywhere in every phase of the game and especially loves his role in attacking midfield.

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Along with Reus, there may not be players anywhere playing as well as Roman Burki and Axel Witsel right now.  And while there are still just limited appearances for center forward Paco Alcacer, he is scoring when he gets playing time and appears to be a major answer for Dortmund up top.

There are still some concerns, though, as the team seems to struggle early in games with build-up at the back, especially when being pressured.  Additionally, Piszczek and Smeltzer are inconsistent and Favre knows he is going to have to transition to younger fullbacks over the course of the season. Achraf Hakimi, though, was brilliant in his first two appearances at right back and will establish himself as the everyday starter in the near future.  Favre has had to experiment a bit at left back when necessary for relief of Smeltzer, with Abdou Diallo getting some recent playing time there.

Diallo and Manuel Akjani are doing well in central defense, establishing themselves as one of the better pairings in the league and Dan-Axel Zagadou played well when needed.  And, of course, Roman Burki is finally having that outstanding season Dortmund fans always expected when he was brought in a few seasons ago.

Of  course, right there with Burki and Reus leading this team with consistently superb performances and establishing himself as one of the best summer signings in the league is Axel Witsel.  Dortmund is on a roll right now. There are more than a few issues to work out and the personnel may not be entirely complete yet where they may need another forward and central midfielder at the winter break, but without question Dortmund fans have to be ecstatic over this season’s start and the future looking so bright under Lucien Favre.

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And while Dortmund grabs plenty of attention, no team has more buzz right now than Hertha Berlin.  Ondrej Duda is one of those players that earned raves when he has played, but struggled with long-term injuries throughout his first season and a half at Berlin.  This season, though, he is finally playing as well as any attacking midfielder in the Bundesliga and is definitely a player to keep an eye on.  Of course, German under-21 Arne Maier is the player all of the elite clubs throughout Europe are salivating over.  Billed as the new Toni Kroos, Maier  established himself as one of the most effective central midfielders in the league and a future German international. And the twenty year old Dutch winger Hertha managed to entice away from Manchester City in Javairo Dilrosun has major speed that is helping to power a very quick Berlin counter.  Hertha were the first team to beat Bayern this season, and they are even with Bayern at thirteen points, sitting behind Dortmund in the league standings.

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