Borussia Banter: DFB Pokal, Week 1 and The Inner Game of Tennis

kagawa sve bvb

Shinji Kagawa netted a brace against Eintracht Trier

By Christian Grieb

Could it have been better? Could it have been a lot worse? Are you pleased with the start of the new version of BVB? If your answer is “Yes” to all three of these questions, you probably find yourself in the camp that many BVB fans do following the start of the DFB Pokal and Bundesliga campaigns. Though things haven’t been flashy or up to full potential yet for the Ruhr side, the start has gone off without a hitch thus far.

Dortmund kicked off their endeavors with an away Cup match in Trier that saw Dortmund easily cruise by the hosts 0:3. It actually was so in control and uneventful at times, it appeared as if the black and yellows were still in summer training mode. Coach Tuchel had a lot to smile about, and BVB fans also got their first glimpses of Schuerrle and Dembele out on the pitch. If you were a fan, though, a good German saying comes to mind. “You looked too deep in the bottle,” in other words you probably needed a beverage or two in order to enjoy proceedings. It was a professional affair for Tuchel’s side, and has brought forth a home cup match against Union Berlin in Dortmund. Fans of BVB will certainly be happy to have a home game early on in the tournament. Over the last few years, the team has mostly had to travel in the early rounds.

Thomas Tuchel gives a smile to the media at the presser before the Mainz home opener.

Thomas Tuchel gives a smile to the media at the presser before the Mainz home opener.

The cup wasn’t the only thing to kick off over the last few weeks for BVB. The Bundesliga is finally here, after what seemed like an eternity of a summer break. The home opener pitted BVB against Tuchel’s former employer Mainz 05. Tuchel and Mainz parted ways in an interesting manner, in which Mainz didn’t release Tuchel when he was under contract to join Schalke. In a funny kind of way, Mainz prevented Dortmund’s highly successful trainer from going to their bitter rival in Schalke. Tuchel has been a revelation for Dortmund, and certainly he wanted to put a show on for the league opener against Mainz. While Dortmund started well in the first 30 minutes, they needed an Aubamayang brace to see them over the hurdle of the well organized Mainz. The game itself probably highlighted the quality of Mainz more than it did BVB, with good compact movement by the visitors. BVB did show some attacking might at times, but the performance was far under the potential that the Tuchel side has had in the past.

It’s clear it will take some time for BVB to gel as a new team, but fans did get to see some of the reason the club brought in Dembele. It’s likely to say that the Mainz defender Donati will have nightmares about Dembele coming at him with the ball. Perhaps highlight of the match over the weekend was Mainz Defender Leon Balogun’s exclamation, “He’s unbelievable.” The Mainz defender was literally quite stunned at the quality of Dembele, and Dortmund fans saw glimpses of the young attackers ability. He also received his first call-up for France this international break.


Thomas Tuchel highly recommends this book to his players.

Thomas Tuchel highly recommends this book to his players.


Finally, to round out this week’s column I felt it interesting to give everyone a view of “Professor Tuchel.” Tuchel has been known to have many interesting ways of motivating his players, always giving them tips in life, their diet, coaching instruction and most importantly reading! Tuchel made headlines when starting at BVB when he banned pizza and fired the club chef for cooking the team too many carbs. Tuchel himself is a vegan, but jokingly told Dembele he would make him his first Bratwurst when he arrived in Germany. The coach certainly gets along with the squad, but also seems to want to challenge players on a mental and physical level.

Andre Schuerrle has revealed in a recent interview that Tuchel has recommend the book “The Art of Tennis” to him by W. Timothy Gallwey. For those unfamiliar with the book, a quick Amazon review would supply this information. “The Inner Game of Tennis is a revolutionary program for overcoming the self-doubt, nervousness, and lapses of concentration that can keep a player from winning.” If people are familiar with the turnaround that Tuchel gave Mkhitarayn at BVB, the former midfielder credits this book as one of the reasons he turned his game around. Tuchel recommended the book to Miki after two less than stellar seasons at BVB, and what appeared to be a mental block that the player would never recover from.

To say the results were astounding would be an understatement, as Miki went on to become the leading assist leader in the Bundesliga last season and one of the top players in Europe in the 15/16 campaign. He credits all of his turnaround to “Professor Tuchel” and his coaching tactics. Tuchel seems to also be mentoring Schuerrle with this same book, and Schuerrle is coming off an interesting year at Wolfsburg that saw him in and out of the starting XI. In the cup and league game with BVB, Schuerrle already has a goal and an assist to his credit. It will be interesting to see how Tuchel nurses Schuerrle, Reus and Goetze back to top form and potentially as an outcome installing BVB as a top side in Europe again. As for the Pub League player, give it a read and let me know if it works. You can find me sipping a Bier at bar.


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