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Borussia Dortmund

Dortmund would have won the Champions League if Gotze and Lewandowski had stayed - Watzke

17:31 BST 13/10/2019
Mario Gotze Robert Lewandowski Borussia Dortmund
The pair both left for Bayern Munich and BVB haven't progressed past the quarter-final stage since their run to the Wembley final in 2013

Borussia Dortmund CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke says the Bundesliga giants would have won the Champions League if star players Robert Lewandowski and Mario Gotze hadn’t been sold to Bayern Munich.

Dortmund won back-to-back Bundesliga titles in 2011 and 2012 under Jurgen Klopp and reached the 2013 Champions League final, where they were narrowly beaten by Bayern after a late goal from Arjen Robben.

They have never come so close since. Gotze’s move to Bayern was infamously made public shortly before the 2013 final, while Lewandowski followed a year later and defender Mats Hummels, now back in black and yellow alongside Gotze, joined them in 2016.

"We had a world-class team," wrote Watzke in his biography ‘Echte Liebe’ – ‘True Love’, a Dortmund slogan.

“And if that team’s structure had not been left in tatters, then it would have also won the Champions League – one hundred per cent!

“We just lost the final in 2013. The next few years would have been our years, for sure! But then Mario left, then Robert went, then all the sh*t started.”

In 2014-15, the season after Lewandowski’s departure, Dortmund capitulated. A spell of five consecutive defeats early in the season set the tone for a campaign in which Klopp’s side were bottom of the table as late as February.

While they eventually recovered to a seventh-placed finish, it was to prove Klopp’s last season at the club. He left at the end of the season and joined Liverpool in October 2015.

Klopp recently revealed Watzke sounded him out about returning to the club in the summer of 2018, though the CEO hadn’t expected him to renege on his long-term contract at Anfield.

While Dortmund returned to something like their best with a season-long title challenge under Lucien Favre last season, they haven’t progressed past the quarter-finals of the Champions League since their run to the final in 2013.

Domestically, Bayern have returned to their hegemony at the top of the Bundesliga with seven straight German titles, thanks in no small part to Dortmund’s former star man Lewandowski.

The Poland international, now 31, has scored more than 200 goals for Bayern since joining in 2014 and has started the current campaign in record-breaking form.