/Soccer: Dortmunds The Brain keeps team firmly on title course

Soccer: Dortmunds The Brain keeps team firmly on title course

BERLIN (Reuters) – When high-flying Bundesliga leaders Borussia Dortmund host relegation-threatened Hanover 96 on Saturday they will playing with the focus and intensity of a major title match thanks to coach Lucien Favre.

Soccer Football – Bundesliga – RB Leipzig v Borussia Dortmund – Red Bull Arena, Leipzig, Germany – January 19, 2019 Borussia Dortmund coach Lucien Favre before the match REUTERS/Matthias Rietschel DFL regulations prohibit any use of photographs as image sequences and/or quasi-video

The Swiss, in his first season at Dortmund, has quickly achieved a level of ruthless efficiency and consistency, missing badly in previous campaigns, that has given them a six-point lead over champions Bayern Munich.

Favre, nicknamed ‘the Brain’ for his tactical nous and attention to detail, has seen his team notch 14 wins from 18 matches in the Bundesliga so far, second best only to Dortmund’s 2010-11 title season under then coach Juergen Klopp.

This campaign they have firmly established themselves as title contenders with Favre succeeding where predecessors such as Thomas Tuchel and Dutchman Peter Bosz had failed in the past.

Having lost only twice in all competitions this season, they also kicked off the year with a win over RB Leipzig last week as the Bundesliga resumed after the winter break.

“Our success is mainly thanks to him,” said midfielder Axel Witsel, who was signed from China’s Tianjin Quanjian this season and has become their game’s anchor point.

With a 94 percent pass completion rate, 30-year-old Belgium international Witsel, whose transfer raised more than a few eyebrows at the time, has proven his worth so far.

“He (Favre) tries to speak to everyone,” the midfielder told Sky television in Germany. “One of his strengths is that even if we win 3-0 or 4-0 he keeps looking for our weaknesses.

“Then he will call you over and say if you can improve this or that. These are mostly details that you may have not noticed. But they are important.”

This is not the first time Favre will defy initial expectations after his arrival at a Bundesliga club, having taken lowly Hertha Berlin to fourth place in 2009. He also steered Borussia Moenchengladbach from relegation candidates to a Champions League spot a few years later.

He did the same for Nice in France’s Ligue 1 with a third place finish in 2017.

One of his biggest fans on the Dortmund team, captain Marco Reus, who rose to a household name under Favre at Gladbach, said the 61-year-old always has a different plan for every game.

“For a player it is always good to have a plan. Favre has a different plan for every game and it is always a good plan,” Reus said.

Bayern, in second place on 39 points host VfB Stuttgart on Sunday as they look to stay on Dortmund’s heels while third-placed Gladbach, a further three points adrift, entertain Augsburg.

Reporting by Karolos Grohmann; Editing by Christian Radnedge

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