1. There is life after Manuel Neuer- Talk about a baptism of fire. A local derby, in a packed stadium, with silverware on the line and the big boots of Manuel Neuer to fill, there must have been a few nerves running through the body of Ralf Fahrmann heading into yesterday’s German Super Cup. And then the match started. From beginning to end, Dortmund looked the more dangerous team, and Fahrmann had to pull saves out of the locker on several occasions, most notably to palm away a Robert Lewandowski effort late in the first half. Perhaps lucky in that Klopp’s side were missing their main finisher, Schalke managed to ride out the Dortmund storm all the way to penalties, where Ralf Fahrmann would really make his mark. Sprawling to save two spot kicks, the German keeper was the hero of the shoot out, a player who will now head in to what could have been a difficult first few weeks of the season, with confidence shooting through his veins.
2. Dortmund have depth at left back- There were several high class performances by players on both teams last night, but only one really stood out to me as the obvious choice for man of the match. Starting at left back in the place of the absent Schmelzer, Chris Lowe was absolutely everywhere, doing well to deal with the considerable threat of Baumjohann down Schalke’s right side, and attacking with verve and enthusiasm too. Perhaps not a solid penalty taker, Klopp elected to withdraw Lowe after seventy-five minutes, but the youngster had made his mark, and though Schmelzer will inevitably walk straight back into the team, Dortmund fans can remain safe in the knowledge that they have an able deputy waiting to make an impact.
3. Watch out for Perisic- One of Dortmund’s most exciting new signings, Perisic arrived in Germany this summer after starring for Brugge in the Belgian Jubilee League. A gifted attacking midfielder, Perisic showed plenty of spark and invention after coming on, in one instance skinning a defender on the left side of the box, before whipping in a dangerous delivery. After the departure of Nuri Sahin for Real Madrid, it was always going to be crucial for Dortmund to bring in high quality new signings, and Croatian international Ivan Perisic looks just the sort of player to make up for the absence of Dortmund’s Turkish maestro.
4. Huntelaar has got to get his act together-Klass Jan Huntelaar seems only to deal in spurts. Like a young Wayne Rooney, Huntelaar is either very hot or very cold, on a drought, or on a spree, there is no middle ground for the Dutchman. Already he has failed to impress at a collection of European clubs, Real Madrid and AC Milan both saw him come in and out of their respective revolving doors. Going into next year, Huntelaar will want to impress Dutch coach Bert Van Marwijk, as a starting place for the Netherlands in the 2012 European Championships is most certainly up for grabs. However, though it is important not to read too much into games like that of last night, Huntelaar will have to improve if he is to push himself into a permanent spot in Van Marwijk’s starting eleven. Ineffective for most of the game, the Dutch international was subbed off during the second half, ending a highly subdued performance- one that will discourage Schalke fans hoping to see him at his best next campaign. It is about time that Huntelaar let his talent be known to the World, for too long has the striker been dubbed as a player with the “potential” to deliver the goods- this year he will have to prove that he is more than just another player not good enough to make it outside the Eredivisie.
5. Barrios can’t get back soon enough- Dortmund were the by far the better team in last night’s match, but yet, they failed to penetrate what is hardly a water tight Schalke back line. Chances were created alright, with players like Gotze, Kagawa and Gundogan on top form opportunities will always present themselves, but the reigning champions failed to put the ball in the net. Robert Lewandowski was particularly profligate in front of goal, but all members of Dortmund’s attack were guilty of missing chances. The obvious reason for the lack of finishing power is the absence of Lucas Barrios, who is currently preparing to represent Paraguay in tonight’s Copa America final. No doubt, Barrios will be allowed an extended break upon returning from the Copa, meaning that he is likely to miss the start of the new season. Someone must step up in front of goal for Dortmund, or the opening weeks could prove very tricky indeed.