It is never good to be the manager who succeeds the legend, and Lucien Favre is a few years (and managers) after from Jurgen Klopp’s departure. Yet ever since the now-Liverpool manager left, BVB has sought a manager who could consistently challenge Bayern as well as remain a contender in the Champions League. These two tasks are not as daunting as they seem. Roma showed a well-constructed and managed team, with a little luck, can surprise in the continental competition. As for Bayern, at some point their dominance will again crack, especially as they fall financially behind other major clubs.
Lucien Favre has a solid resume but unlike his immediate predecessors, it is varied. He has tamed Mario Balotelli, a seemingly impossible task. Now he comes into a situation with talent, some of it world class, but with a number of questions. Three questions, in fact, will dictate whether he finds success this season (and beyond) or he continues Dortmund’s streak of mediocre managers who cannot live up to the past.
The first question is: can he find consistency in goal? Roman Burki has a challenger now in Marwin Hintz, his fellow Swiss. Rather than go out and sign a definitive number one keeper, it seems that both Burki and Hintz will compete for the starting position. An unsure Burki unsettled the BVB Backline last year and certainly cost his club at least one match. Can Favre settle the keeper order and find a true number one? If not, the defensive issues plaguing the club will continue.
The second question is if goals by committee will work for this club. Losing The Batman means the Black and Yellow lack a true number nine on the pitch. Yet the wealth of attacking talent is impressive. A healthy Reus complimented by a motivated Pulisic, rejuvenated Kagawa, stalwart Gotze, and a mix of Jadon Sancho, newcomer Jacob Bruun Larson, and Max Phillip (among others) means there is no lack of attacking ability. Yet when BVB finds themselves down a goal late, can one of them be relied upon to disrupt the opposition defence and find that goal, no matter the situation?
The final question is about style, and whether Favre can make the talent he has work for the style he is undoubtedly expected to play. The BVB dream is pressure attacking football but when you examine this roster, the strength could be in defence. Newcomers Axel Witsel and Thomas Delaney solidify a midfield but behind them is exciting young talent as well. In fact, if Favre goes to a 3-4-3 or 4-3-3, good defensive talent may need to be sacrificed for his less reliable attackers. The best BVB style may be more of a ball-control or even counter attacking style, not the hoped for gegenpress. How Favre handles the dream and the reality may be the biggest key to this season, and his career.