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Borussia Dortmund 2 - 1 Werder Bremen: Player Ratings

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A win is a win.

Real Madrid CF v Borussia Dortmund - UEFA Champions League Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

Dortmund scraped together a win from an otherwise forgettable performance at the Weserstadion yesterday in Bremen. The first match of the Rückrunde, after a month’s Winterpause, surprisingly showed a tired squad demonstrating many of the same issues that have plagued the boys throughout the Hinrunde.

Positives

Three points were taken, and when Bremen came out extremely passive and flatfooted, Dortmund’s attack carved them up in the first 15 minutes.

Negatives

See the Hinrunde’s issues, and they were on full display. Dortmund still have trouble with opponents who are determined to fight it out with them. And for whatever reason, they looked knackered at full time despite having a man advantage for the majority of the game and a massive possession advantage. Dortmund tired while still working less than their opposition.

Manager: 4

Tuchel’s choices continue to perplex and therefore must be the result of undisclosed injury, fitness levels, or form on the training ground. His use of a dual striker system with Reus and Schürrle worked very well when Dortmund as a whole functioned well, but the inclusion of Kagawa and Castro, yet again, negated any cogent ability to move the ball up the middle of the pitch, and without Dembélé’s speed and craftiness to exploit the half-spaces, Dortmund once again found themselves forced to try to use only the flanks. Why Götze was not used at all, but shined throughout an entire 90 minutes in the last Testspiel against Paderborn on Tuesday is a quandary.

Weidenfeller: 6

Had one massive save that shows he is still a great, instinctive shot stopper. One could argue he could have done better on the Bartels goal, but Roman has never really been great on one-on-one breakaways and his defense massively let him down. Did what he had to do to keep a win.

Piszczek: 7

All throughout this and last season, we have noted the decline of the attacking Lukasz Piszczek… and yet, he is currently tied for second with most Bundesliga goals on the team. Unreal. The master of right time, right place, the Pole scored the match-winner lobbing Wiedwald off a fortuitous and deflected bounce from a corner kick. Played well enough at right back but was caught out of position a few times off of turnovers.

Sokratis: 7

Again, Papa had a massive game at defense. Solid, but unremarkable at all times. The goal was decidedly not his fault.

Ginter: 4

As always, a mixed night. Played very well up until the goal when he got owned by Fin Bartles, nutmegged in the most embarrassing of fashions, and let him go in on goal alone. As YellowWallPod has frequently noted, a candidate for the most-improved player of the year and worst player of the year, Ginter is prone to the most blunderous of calamities, and his mistake almost cost Dortmund two points.

Schmelzer: 7

Was very lively and active in the attack. Had to come off at start of second half due to calf cramps. Dortmund clearly missed his presence thereafter.

Weigl: 6

From my last match-ratings article: “When Köln pressed him, he struggled, when they didn’t, he did well. Story of his season. Was forced to play some frantic defense in the second half while Dortmund chased the game.” Pretty much a copy-paste though the outcome was different. Julian had some moments when given space that saw him galivanting through the half-spaces, but could not produce a final product.

Pulisic: 5

Started out very well and faded a lot toward the end. Was two inches from completing a beautiful lobbed service over the top to a streaking Schürrle. After Bremen went down to ten men, however, Pulisic could not find a way back into the match. As frequently happens, with only Castro to work with, Pulisic find himself cut off on the wings and is limited to beating his defender with speed, trapping himself in the corner and getting doubled by the opposition left-back. Unfortunately for the American, when Dortmund’s central midfield consists of Castro, Pulisic will look awful. Christian did, however miss a glorious diving header attempt at which he should have done better, and had some uncharacteristically poor decisions in the box late in the second half.

Castro: 3

It has been ages it seems since Castro had a good match. He has been completely out of sync and unable to put together passes with anyone in the attacking midfield since he lost his pal Mkhitaryan this summer. To further exacerbate his performance Gonzo evidentially chose the wrong footwear as he was slipping like a pig on ice all over the pitch. He put in a tireless performance and contributed a bit to defense, but offensively, he is a liability. Was substituted in the final third for Raphael Guerreiro.

Kagawa: 4

Shinji started out well, but as soon as those first magical 15 minutes were up, his form plummeted. Completely unable to pair with Castro, Kagawa disappeared for much of the game. Started dropping back alongside Weigl later in the match to collect the ball and did better, but a central midfield of Shinji and Gonzo is a non-starter.

Schürrle: 7

Andre took his goal really well and his ability to work with pal Marco is manifestly evident on the pitch. Faded in the middle part of the game due to his lack of service but still made demands of Werder’s defense.

Reus: 8

On aggregate, the best player on the field. Created the goal, made the run that forced the red card, and always a threat on the attack. Marco, once again was made to pay for making Werder’s defense look stupid as he was targeted again and again with physicality. Thankfully Siebert, the match official today seemed to have paid attention to the laments of Tuchel and the comments of Dembélé as he did his best through cautions and the sending off to police Werder’s attempts to kick Marco out of the match. Still, his bruises to the thigh from Drobny’s boot will take quite a while to heal no doubt.

Substitutes

Durm: 4

Why Felix Passlack is being frozen out of the squad is a mystery, because Erik Durm has shown nothing the past two years (outside the outlier massive performance against Tottenham in the Europa League last year) that should merit his inclusion. Yes, Felix is a right back, but I am pretty certain he could do a better job defensively than Durm, and definitely is a far more potent offensive threat. Erik had one great cross that led to a goal scoring chance, but aside from that his balls frequently led to turnovers.

Dembélé: 2

Should not have come out on the pitch. Why Tuchel threw him out there is a mystery as he was clearly not fit. Any semblance of speed and touch was absent as every ball that was sent to him was immediately lost. Looked like about as fast as a forty-year old in a Sunday league… and against the worst defense in the Bundesliga that is saying something. Clearly the brutality he has endured from all fronts has taken its toll. He needs more time to recover.

Guerreiro: 8

Raph is the Man of the Match... not necessarily for the aggregate performance, but because from the moment he came on the pitch, the match changed dramatically. All negativity and passivity vanished as Dortmund began to move the ball forward again. Certainly, the absence of Castro contributed, but Guerreiro on the pitch shows what Dortmund have lacked this year… the ability of a box-to-box midfielder who is able to move the ball through tight spaces on the dribble before making a positive pass and continuing the play. Not as great a player as our Illy, but fills the whole the German international left adequately enough. Needs to stay healthy and needs to play that role for Dortmund to ensure their UCL automatic qualification.