When it was announced in June that Dortmund had signed Freiburg goalkeeper Roman Bürki, most of us fans were excited at the notion that he might be Roman Weidenfeller's successor. Those were big shoes to fill, as Weidenfeller had been ever reliable for die Schwarzgelb between the posts for nearly over a decade, winning the DFB Pokal, the FIFA World Cup (although as a backup to Neuer), and two Bundesliga meisterschafts during his time as the starting goalkeeper.
No small accomplishment for a man whose team had just been relegated, Bürki earned himself the starting goalkeeper spot. With Weidenfeller only dispatching for him on Thursday nights in the Europa League, Bürki had the Bundesliga spot all to himself.
Bürki started off quite well, keeping two clean sheets in his first Bundesliga matches for the club against Gladbach and Ingolstadt. Dortmund dominated the first five games in the league, as Bürki seamlessly transitioned into the squad. His form kept pace with how the team as a whole was performing, looking like he was a shrewd investment for only 3.5 million Euros seven games into the season.
However, it wasn't until Dortmund's first loss of the campaign that some cracks started to show in Bürki's game. Any team can be forgiven for losing to Bayern, but their Dortmund's goalkeeper didn't do much to help them out. A Bürki mistake opened the scoring, as a long ball from Jerome Boateng cleared the Dortmund defense found it's way to Bürki, who went racing towards it at the edge of the box. Seemingly afraid to make any contact with Müller, Bürki halfheartedly goes for the ball, completely whiffing and allowing Thomas Müller an easy finish.
His first costly error of the season can be forgiven, but when it happened again in similar fashion in the same game, some Dortmund faithful were understandably a little disappointed. Boateng launched another long ball from their own half into Dortmund's penalty area, but Bürki stayed back, a little hesitant to come out considering what the cost was last time. This time, as Lewandowski collected the ball, Bürki made a last second jump in attempt to get the ball, whiffed again in a more embarrassing fashion that literally allowed Lewandowski to walk the ball into the net.
Bürki fails to get near the ball as Lewandowski walks it home.
Of course, one poor showing can be forgiven. But his major goof against SC Paderborn in the DFB Pokal to give them a 1-0 lead, where Bürki was dispossessed right in front of goal trying to take on an attacker, was something that would hardly be forgotten if Dortmund failed to tack on seven goals after his error. Bürki, along with the whole team, had another poor day against Hamburg. On Iličević's breakaway run that the Dortmund defense gifted him, Bürki was forced out and seemingly took the chance away from the Croatian, until Bürki dove in unnecessarily and fouled Iličević in the process, giving up a penalty that opened the scoring.
We have seen some pretty damn good performances from our Swiss keeper, though. Against Wolfsburg, it was him who kept us in the game during VfL's explosive second half. He made a collection of great saves, as he did against Köln as well. But in both of those games, games that could be considered his best performances of the season, he passed the ball straight to an opposing player from a goal kick position, gifting amazing chances in both scenarios. Against Wolfsburg, he saved himself with a fine save on Dost's effort (1:03 in the video), but against Köln, Zoller tucked it away with no problem. He kept us in both games, but spoiled it against Koln and saved it against Wolfsburg.
I feel like those two games were the epitome of Roman Bürki's first half season for Borussia Dortmund. He started off strong and was very impressive at times, but was way too prone for an unforgivable mistake. You'd expect this from a younger keeper, and while only 25 years old, he might just need a little more time to mature between the posts. A WhoScored.com rating of 6.45, the lowest out of any Dortmund player besides Ramos, suggests the inconsistency I've been talking about. However, in the goalkeeping business, the mistakes are what stand out the most. Bürki could very well still be Borussia Dortmund's long term keeper, but he still has some improvements to make.
Am I being too harsh on him? Or did he make too many mistakes in the first half to be our goalkeeper of the future? Positive or negative, leave your opinions, feedback, and all other comments in the section below!