In Lisbon, Dortmund had their chances, but didn’t take them. Benfica only had one, but took theirs, along with a 1-0 lead to Germany. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang had a comically bad evening, missing a handful of clear cut chances, alongside a penalty. Don’t expect Dortmund to be so wasteful this time around.
Over the weekend, Dortmund dispatched Bayer Leverkusen 6-2, resulting in Bayer manager Roger Schmidt’s sacking. Aubameyang got a brace, and has scored four goals in the three matches since he failed to convert in Lisbon. Marco Reus, however, looks to be out for four weeks after suffering a hamstring injury. While that may be bad news for Dortmund supporters, it’s potentially great news for USMNT fans as Christian Pulisic looks likely to start.
In Portugal, Benfica remain in first by one point, with a 1-0 win away at Feirense. They’ve made the last eight of the Champions League in three of the last six seasons, and with Dortmund failing to get an away goal, they have a good chance of doing so again, despite being underdogs. Kostas Mitroglou has scored 18 in his last 17 and an early away goal could make it a nervy evening for Dortmund.
Thomas Tuchel had Dortmund firing last season - nearly any other year, their 78 points would have been enough to win the title. But, as always, there’s Bayern. While their captain, Mats Hummels, has exited alongside Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Ilkay Gundogan (to opposite sides of Manchester), Dortmund have brought in capable replacements in Mario Götze and Andre Schürrle while also keeping hold of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. With master tinkerer Thomas Tuchel now settled as he takes on his second season at Signal Iduna Park, there will be few teams confident in overpowering or outsmarting Dortmund.
Benfica won their second straight Primeira Liga title last season, with a +66 goal difference along the way. Meanwhile in the Champions League, they had a notable win against eventual runners-up Atletico Madrid and managed a draw against Bayern in the quarter-finals, eventually losing 2-3 on aggregate. In the offseason, as Europe’s biggest clubs did their annual summer prowl of Portugal, Argentine winger Nicolas Gaitan and the Euros’ Young Player of the Tournament Renato Sanches departed. Without major reinforcements (other than some of the best looking kits in the world this season), they’ll rely on Jonas, who has scored 52 goals in 61 appearances for Benfica.
Dortmund somehow managed to keep hold of the electric forward who scored 39 goals last season.
The Greek defender will be even more crucial to Dortmund's season after captain Mats Hummels departure. His last name, Papastathopoulos, is too long to print, so his jersey simply reads, "Sokratis."