When Weigl signed from 1860 Munich two summers ago there was no fanfare or expectations. Fast forward to this season and the expectations are sky high for a player that quickly became an undroppable metronome in his first season at the Westfalenstadion.
If we’re being honest, those expectations were probably unfair for a 21-year-old with only one season of top flight experience. Especially after the illustrious Ilkay Gundogan left for saltier pastures, expectations just became unreasonable after BVB failed to sign a replacement. How the heck do you expect someone to be a box to box defensive midfielder that shields the back-line and surges forward to provide assists!? It’s clear that Weigl was feeling the pressure to do just that telling DW in the summer:
Weigl has certainly succeeded on the first part of that statement. In possession Julian has again been absolutely superb. His passing is still mind mindbogglingly accurate and controls the entire flow of games. Whenever any BVB player comes under pressure the first person they look to is Weigl who quickly recycles the ball into another dangerous position. The stats tell the same story. The former 1860 man currently sits second in the Bundesliga in passes completed behind only Thiago Alcantara. He’s also completing an uncanny 91% of his passes which is slightly higher than Thiago.
The take-ons are an emerging skill in the German international’s ever expanding tool kit. Weigl is by no means a player who surges into risky take-ons from a defensive position a la Marcelo. But he’s strategically picked opportunities to drive forward with the ball. Beyond just being a metronome, he’s begun to show the ability to take defenders out of the play with not only his passing but also with the ball at his feet. In driving his team forward Weigl is definitely taking over some of Gundogan’s past responsibilities. From an offensive standpoint, Weigl has exceeded reasonable expectations. Despite not having an assist, he has created 6 chances in the Bundesliga and Champions League according to Squawka which is more than enough for a holding midfielder. And of course let’s not forget this peach of a goal.
What’s been concerning this hinrunde is that Weigl has been exposed at times. Many teams have attempted and had some success with man marking him out of the game. Further, pressing teams such as Leverkusen have been able to pressure him into uncharacteristically giving the ball away in the BVB half. Defensively, Weigl also leaves something to be desired. As defensive midfielder, he’s currently only winning 33% of his tackles. Compared that to his pass master peer in Munich, Thiago who’s currently winning a respectable 45% of his tackles. No one is expecting Weigl to be a Trump-eting wall a la Sokratis or an enforcer a la Sven Bender. But, a physically stronger, better tackling Weigl could be a piece towards solving Dortmund’s defensive puzzle.
All told Weigl has had a mostly successful hinrunde and proves every match why he’s one of Germany’s brightest young prospects. With a new contract in hand, Weigl is here to stay and Dortmund couldn’t be happier having him pass his way towards major trophies.