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Player Review: Roman Weidenfeller

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Roman's first year as a backup was pretty much what we expected

Borussia Dortmund v Liverpool - UEFA Europa League Quarter Final: First Leg
Falco-punch!
Photo by Stuart Franklin/Bongarts/Getty Images

Time, more specifically the passing of time, is inevitable. We are all born, we all live, and we all die. Like such iconic greats as The Simpsons, Al Pacino, and Liverpool, even the best can fall. Our loyal warrior Roman Weidenfeller, who turns 36 in August, is just another victim of the eternal waterfall that is father time. After last year's disastrous season for Borussia Dortmund, one that saw Weidenfeller struggle as much as the rest of the squad, it was clear that Roman could simply not bear the burden of being the first-squad keeper anymore. When Roman Bürki signed for BVB on June 14th, 2015, it marked the end of a glorious 13-year era. The keeper that had won us two Bundesliga Championships, a DFB-Pokal, and a DFL Super-Cup, the man who had been the rock in net since 2003 was now relegated to the role of back-up. Because of this, his starts were few and far between, and were mostly limited to the Europa League.

The Negatives

Weidenfeller's performances this season underscored why Thomas Tuchel was so anxious to find a new starter last summer. While Dortmund's domination during the UEL Group Stage masked some of his shaky play: during the first half of the season, he earned just a single clean sheet from six starts in the Europa League, a 4-0 beatdown of Qabala. His biggest negative was his start at Anfield, which saw BVB surrender a 3-1 lead to the Reds to lose 4-3. Some of the goals he gave up were pretty weak, such as the game-tying goal by Mamadou Sakho:

I know it's difficult to judge a low-cross from a corner, and as bad as Dortmund's defense was, he needed to make a decision and commit to it. In that match, he allowed Divock Origi to beat him five-hole, and he certainly didn't help when Dejan Lovren launched a header into the corner to knock Dortmund out of the Europa League. The Liverpool away leg was Weidenfeller's most important game of the season, and he failed to step up in a major way.

The Positives

This:

What you just watched is a portal to another era. That sequence of at least four outstanding saves in a row was absolute vintage Weidenfeller, and was probably one of the club's top highlights of the year. Dortmund fans everywhere were brought back to the glory years of the late 2000's and early 2010's when Roman was a true world-class talent at the top of his game. Weidenfeller was the single reason that BVB was able to go to Anfield level on aggregate. Frankly I'm glad that he was able to put together this magical display in front of the home fans, because it's uncertain how many opportunities left there will be for Weidenfeller to claim the spotlight.

The Future

Roman's days at the club are numbered. It's hard to imagine that the one-year contract that he signed in February won't be his last with the club. While it is sad that Weidenfeller will have to move on after so many years, I for one am glad that he and the club will be able to separate on good terms. Convincing a veteran to step down is never easy, and I believe that it speaks to Weidenfeller's loyalty to the club that he was willing to stick with BVB a.) after a lousy season, and b.) when it was virtually guaranteed that he would only start sporadically. He seems at least content with his backup role, so he's going to be playing that role at least for another year. He won't be counted on much next season, but when he is called on, he'll be there for the club.