When both Renato Sanches and Raphael Guerreiro entered the spotlight last summer for the European Champions Portugal, much of the attention was cast on the former while little was known about the latter.
Guerreiro, a young but wily full back who could also play in midfield, came to Dortmund from FC Lorient in the French Serie A. His addition to the Dortmund side came mostly as a way to increase defensive depth but also as a threat on set pieces - an element of football with which Dortmund has normally struggled.
Guerreiro has shown he is a fearless player, despite the little amount of games he has been in due to injury. His composure on and off the ball shows the maturity level the Portuguese starlet has. Guerreiro has yet to be fixed to one position, floating between left back, defensive midfield, and left midfield this season.
In 12 appearances for Dortmund across all competitions, Guerreiro has scored three goals and added three assists along with 12 shots on goal. His offensive prowess has been amazing while he continues to excel on defense.
During the Euros, we saw just what Guerreiro can do from a set piece with his fantastic goal against Norway in a tune-up for the Euros. While Raph has done nothing that earth-shattering from a free-kick, he has used his ability to loft perfect cross into the box setting up a waiting head or foot for a shot on goal.
The ability for Guerreiro to not only make plays but generate offense is incredible especially for a young defender like him. Guerreiro’s eye for the perfect pass makes him one of the premier young defenders in the world. Not to mention the fact that he’s averaging over one shot attempt per game with Dortmund this season...and that’s as a defender too.
Guerreiro has also shown that on defense, he can win challenges using his speed and agility. Despite his small stature, Raph is able to get between the ball and the attacker with relative ease to create turnovers.
While we all know how skilled Guerreiro is, sometimes it’s okay to use your teammates for help. As young players normally do, Guerreiro tends to attempt making plays on his own which usually leads to the ball being knocked away. In the away match at Wolfsburg, Guerreiro turned the ball over on certain occasions attempting to be too fancy. His edge speed is great and his cheekiness on the ball is second to none, but sometimes Raph fails to make that needed pass to make a play, instead opting to go it alone.
One other downside to Guerreiro is his injury proneness. When healthy, Raph can be one of the best full-backs in the world. But he has missed more games than he’s been healthy for this season and it’s not giving BVB fans much optimism about the Portuguese youngster.
Once Guerreiro gets healthy, it will be imperative for him to stay healthy. Having someone like Raph in the lineup gives Dortmund a dual-dimension game-plan. Not only can Guerreiro attack, but he can defend magically as well.
If he can stay healthy, we could see Raph mentioned among the likes of Portuguese legends in the next decades.