Full Steam Ahead - or not?
It's been an inconsistent year for Łukasz Piszczek. While he was missing out on a good number of games during the season, he became a very consistent starter - only to be set back by injuries; again. He started over half the games of this Bundesliga season, was subbed in for four more games, but also had to sit out 14 games, due to minor issues or lack of fitness. The Europa League and Cup games show a similar picture. While he's been starting more games than not, he's had a considerable number of games that he's missed due to injury or lack of fitness.
So, is it time to start moving on and find a replacement that is younger, fitter, and can take the brunt of over fifty competitive games for Dortmund with less injury time?
The alternative right side
In the past months, there have been several attempts to find a solution for Dortmund's right back position. At the start of the season, Ginter played a formidable role, racing forward and bringing spectacular options to Dortmund's offense. Later, Erik Durm played this position - as opposed to last season, with less success. Even Felix Passlack was tested in preseason games - yet none of these solutions stuck with Tuchel's idea of a rightback. Time and again, Piszczek came back to claim what was and still is rightfully his: domain over the defensive right back. Whether it's his crucial crosses to assist (against Frankfurt and Ingolstadt), saving a goal after Bürki's beaten already (also against Ingolstadt) or keeping the likes of Ribéry, Thiago or Costa shut out during the Pokalfinale, in the end Piszczek shows that he still has few tricks up his sleeve.
With the upcoming European Championships, his place in the Polish team is a given. Time for Piszczek to show up and help guide his team through the group stages, even against his German team mates that are called up for Die Mannschaft. With the Polish side being more than just pushovers, his path could very much lead deep into the tournament. Unless his old injury haunt comes back to take his pride.
Do or do not - there is no try!
Now, where does that leave the veteran star of Dortmund? Surely, his prime was in the Golden Dortmund years of 2010 to 2012, when he and his team mates went from victory to victory, picking up titles left and right and putting a fuming Bayern München down to second place. Then, as the Bavarian giants reclaimed the throne, his form dipped just as all his team mates' did as well. Now, he's sometimes held back by his injured body and at almost 31 years old, he's getting to the stage in his career where players are usually overtaken by younger and flashier players, where experience, awareness and calmness are slowly bested by fitness, speed, athleticism and youthful unconcern.
I think, though, that the old man still has it. He has proven over and over again that in a clutch moment he can still take the responsibility, dash down the right side and chip in a perfect cross to be converted by all the flash and fancy front. And the next moment, he'll go and wrestle the ball away from the best the opponent has to offer. He may be a veteran, and he may not be the fastest man any more, but he's still Łukasz Piszczek and he still frakking rocks!