It was a heroic run to the final by the men in yellow, as people all across Europe warmed to their fluent style of football.
One year on and we are all wondering whether anyone can match what Dortmund achieved in the 2012-13 Champions League. The usual suspects have been touted to lift the trophy in May but we have compiled a list of five outsiders who could emulate the entertaining Germans and make a surprise run in the competition.
Copa Del Rey holders Atletico Madrid have started the 2013-14 campaign like a house on fire, winning all four of their opening games and scoring 14 goals in the process. Everyone will be focusing on the two usual Spanish heavyweights, but Atletico have proven over recent years that they can mix it with Barcelona and Real Madrid.
They even beat their rivals from the Spanish capital in that pulsating Copa Del Rey final last season. The Rojiblanco are also now proven European competition specialists, winning the Europa League in 2010 and 2012, and have been given quite a decent group alongside FC Porto, Zenit St Petersburg and Austria Vienna.
They will fancy themselves to top that group with the likes of David Villa, Arda Turan, Koke and Diego Costa as their attacking options. Belgian stopper Thibaut Courtois is protected by the best La Liga defence from last season too, meaning it will be quite a scalp for whoever knocks out Atletico this year.
Despite a shaky start to the season, Manchester City have a real point to prove in Europe after being knocked out in the group stages in both the last two seasons. This time round, they have been given a slightly easier draw despite being in the same group as holders Bayern Munich.
The other two teams, Viktoria Plzen and CSKA Moscow, are easily beatable and barring another disaster, City’s name should be in the knockout stages this season. Manuel Pellegrini made four astute summer signings which gives them added depth to cope with both the league and Europe, meaning they have a real chance to go far.
However, they need to improve their away form as they did not pick up a single point away from home in last year’s Champions League and have so far picked up just one point from two away games in the 2013-14 Premier League.
The perennial dark horses, Shakhtar Donetsk, have another decent opportunity to impress in Europe this season despite losing both Fernandinho and Henrik Mkhitaryan in the summer. Mkhitaryan may have scored three goals in four games for Dortmund since his move but they have replaced him with Brazilians Fred, Wellington Nem and Bernard.
Youngster Fernando was acquired to replace Fernandinho as they continue to use young and talented South American imports. Bernard in particular is a fantastic signing; he is almost a certainty to play in the World Cup for Brazil next summer and is looking to use this competition as a platform.
Despite their very difficult group, Shakhtar will have nothing to lose when they play against Manchester United, Bayer Leverkusen and Real Sociedad so watch out for the dangerous Ukrainian champions.
Napoli may be in a tough group alongside Dortmund and Arsenal but they have a manager in Rafa Benitez who quite simply knows how to win European football matches. This combined with the impressive signings he has made since taking over gives the Italians a strong chance of going a long way in this year’s tournament.
The form of their playmaker Marek Hamsik, who has four goals in his first three Serie A games, makes their chances of a successful European campaign even stronger. There is no doubt that the Slovakian schemer and record signing Gonzalo Higuain will be key to Napoli succeeding or failing in this year’s competition.
The 2004 champions of Europe may have continued with their profit-making transfer policy with the sales of Joao Moutinho and James Rodriguez to Monaco, but they still have a huge amount of quality in their squad.
Like Atletico Madrid, they will fancy their chances of qualification from Group G and as we all know, once you are in the knockout stages anything can happen. The signing of Juan Quintero is definitely a stand-out move from the summer for a fee of just 5 million euros from Pescara.
The Colombian was a star of this summer’s Under-20 World Cup and created 19 chances for the relegated Italians last season (stats above).