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Axel Witsel: Dortmund can’t hide in Bundesliga title battle

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Axel Witsel admits Borussia Dortmund have no excuses for next season’s Bundesliga title battle with Bayern Munich after strengthening their squad.

Dortmund head into the new campaign keen to erase what happened in the previous one, where they blew a seven-point lead to end up two points behind champions Bayern following a mid-season slump.

Lucien Favre’s side have since splashed out €106m this summer in recruiting the likes of Thorgan Hazard, Nico Schulz and Julian Brandt. They’ve also welcomed back five-time Bundesliga winner Mats Hummels from rivals Bayern.

Hopes are, therefore, high over at Signal Iduna Park that this could indeed be the season where Dortmund’s seven-year wait for league glory will finally come to an end.

And Witsel, who became a key part of the BVB team upon joining them last summer from Chinese side Tianjin Quanjian, concedes there is nowhere for them to hide anymore ahead of the new campaign.

“I want to win titles with this team,” the Belgian midfielder told Kicker.

“A club like Borussia Dortmund must have that as a goal.

“I think we are stronger than last season. The championship is, therefore, a realistic goal. We must not hide.

“But we still have to prove we are stronger. You have to play at a top-level all the time and you need courage. Otherwise, don’t bother trying.”

Witsel, in particular, is enjoying the impact Hummels has already made upon his return to Dortmund last month.

The World Cup winner previously made 309 appearances for BVB and helped them win two Bundesliga titles, two DFL-Supercups and a DFB-Pokal. He was also a member of the team that reached the 2013 Champions League final.

“As far as I can tell it’s as if he has never been away,” Witsel said on Hummels.

“It’s easy for me to share the pitch with him. He’s technically very good, I can give him the ball in any situation

“He’s a leader – we can use another one of those guys – and he’ll feel the impact he has on training right from the start.

“The more leaders the better.”

Dortmund will begin the new season in the DFL-Supercup against Bayern on August 3.

HARDHEIM, GERMANY – JULY 12: Mats Hummels of Borussia Dortmund in action during the pre-season friendly match between FC Schweinberg and Borussia Dortmund on July 12, 2019 in Schweinberg near Hardheim, Germany. (Photo by Christian Kaspar-Bartke/Bongarts/Getty Images)