With the UEFA Champions League on its winter break, uefa.com will publish mid-term reports on the 16 remaining sides in the competition every day until 31 December. Today we look at German champions BV Borussia Dortmund, who have responded well after a disappointing start.
The story so far
Dortmund lost 1-0 to AC Milan on Matchday Eight as a hectic calendar year came to a close for the 2001/02 German champions. Matthias Sammer's men, who were also UEFA Cup finalists last May, enter the winter break in second place both in the 1. Bundesliga and their Champions League section.
While it was FC Bayern München who were tipped to lead the German challenge in Europe this term, last season's Bundesliga top two of Dortmund and Bayer 04 Leverkusen are the ones who have made it past the first group stage. Dortmund began with a defeat against English champions Arsenal FC, but bounced back to defeat AJ Auxerre, PSV Eindhoven and then, on Matchday 5, the Londoners to go through comfortably.
With Milan and Real Madrid CF awaiting in the second group stage, Dortmund needed to open with victory against FC Lokomotiv Moskva, and duly came from behind in Russia to do just that through goals from Torsten Frings and Jan Koller - a victory which did wonders for the side's self-belief. There was little between Dortmund and group leaders Milan in their subsequent home match, won by a solitary goal from Filippo Inzaghi, but the Germans can still go into February's double-header against Madrid with some confidence.
Dortmund tend to perform well under pressure - witness that comeback in Moscow - and have become a creative attacking force led as they are by overseas stars like Tomáš Rosický, who has had an outstanding season, and Ewerthon, who has grown increasingly prominent. Goalkeeper Jens Lehmann is also in excellent form. Looking ahead, their international players should return from the winter break refreshed, having shown signs of tiredness so far this season following the FIFA World Cup.
When they are expected to win, particularly in the aftermath of big matches, they look vulnerable and have dropped points unexpectedly in the Bundesliga. Part of the reason is that Dortmund's more experienced players - the likes of Frings, Sebastian Kehl, Lars Ricken and Christoph Metzelder - cannot always stir their younger colleagues at key moments. Established talents like Marcio Amoroso and Koller have also been disappointing by their standards, the Brazilian in particular failing to find any form after his recovery from injury.
Key man - Tomáš Rosický
Playmaker Tomáš Rosický has the technique and ideas to inspire Dortmund and strikers Amoroso, Koller and Ewerthon are all dependent on the Czech's form. Rosický has more experience and greater maturity this year and now scores important goals like the penalty that beat Arsenal.
Best moment so far
After being roundly beaten at Highbury, Dortmund battled back from a goal down to beat Arsenal at the Westfalenstadion. Rosický's free-kick was headed into his own goal by Gilberto and the Czech then converted from the spot after his pass had released Jan Koller, then brought down by David Seaman.
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