Borussia Dortmund and Poland legend Lukasz Piszczek spoke to Ruhr Nachrichten in an interview about his thoughts on the club’s current title run.
While he may no longer be directly associated with the first team, Borussia Dortmund legend Lukasz Piszczek still has Dortmund deeply ingrained in his sense of identity. The former Polish international was one of the club’s most loyal and long-standing servants, initially joining Die Schwarzgelben in 2010. Under Jürgen Klopp, Piszczek made the right-back position his own and became one of the best in his position worldwide.
Since leaving Dortmund in 2021, Piszczek has still followed the club very closely, which comes as no surprise. His assessment of what makes the current crop of Borussia Dortmund players so special comes down to a number of factors, including the level of planning that has gone into identifying players by both Edin Terzić and Sebastian Kehl, as well as the internal competition they’ve cultivated at the club this season.
"“Coach Edin Terzić and sporting director Sebastian Kehl have set up the team in such a way that the entire squad is able to compensate for any lapses due to injury or a weaker player. This competitive pressure has brought the performance levels up in the second half of the season.”"
Lukasz Piszczek highlighted Emre Can, Julian Brandt and Gregor Kobel as some of Borussia Dortmund’s best and most important performers this season among others. He is certainly right to point out that the competition in question has made the team perform to a higher standard. With no position safe or secured, and with players waiting in the wings for game-time, some of BVB’s previously underperforming players have made it to the next level with their overall contributions, particularly in the second half of the season.
Piszczek also commended Terzić on all the hard work he has put into this squad, particularly with players that were struggling. Donyell Malen and Karim Adeyemi took time and encouragement to really make their mark, with Terzic supporting them all the way:
"“What sets him apart is his way of dealing with people… It’s not easy to manage a squad like this, with 30 players who all have their own egos. There are not always easy solutions. Sometimes you have to disappoint players, even brush them against the grain. But he has his line, and he follows it through. The players benefit from that.”"
Piszczek highlighted that Terzić is a master of man management in particular because of how honest he is. Terzić’s ability to communicate with players and reward those who perform well in training for their minutes is something Piszczek has first hand experience with:
"“I was also disappointed when I played less. Nevertheless, I gave 100 percent in training, and then at some point I was back in the starting eleven. The fact that the season then ended with victory in the DFB-Pokal and I was able to make my contribution is a great memory for me. Saying goodbye with a title was my greatest wish, and it came true.”"
Piszczek has indicated that he is very confident that the players will be able to get the title over the line against Mainz. Their confidence was palpable during his visit, and his main suggestion for them in terms of how to finish off season was to remain focused and to not underestimate their opponents.
"“The team is aware of the situation. I was still in Dortmund at the beginning of the week and I sensed a great deal of self-confidence among the players. They’ll be on the gas right from the start on Saturday to steer the game in the right direction. Of course, you have to watch out for Mainz, you can’t underestimate them because they have become very stable under Bo Svensson. But our home games this season have been really strong.”"
With a game of this magnitude, it’s a shame that Lukasz Piszczek can’t roll back the years and step into the lineup to help guide this team to its first Bundesliga title in years. He’s been there quite a few times with Dortmund in the past, and his experience would have been invaluable in a situation like this. Alas, he will be cheering the team on like the rest of us, a fellow Dortmund fan excited to witness a new chapter in the club’s storied history.