Dortmund lost again to another bogey-team at the Olympiastadion in Berlin. It was a mixed performance from a rotated side against the team with the best home record in the Bundesliga this year.
BVB were not soundly defeated by a pretty good Hertha side. Even with some misfires and lapses, Dortmund have enough quality, depth, and currently, form to play toe-to-toe with anyone. Buildup play up the center of the pitch was good.
xG map of the game showed Dortmund lacked a bit of sharpness in the final third. There were very little quality final-passes in the end and the scoreline reflected it. Also, there was zero threat from the flanks in this match.
The reason top managers get paid top money are for moments like these. A match against fifth-place Hertha in Berlin sandwiched between a must-win Champions League match on Wednesday and a potential trap-game against SF Lotte in the Cup on Tuesday forced Tuchel to disrupt the first eleven that have dominated the last four matches on the trot. A situation that calls for gutsy decisions and good tactics. Tuchel got it mostly right and got let down by a few bad plays.
Difficult to grade this one. He channeled his Simon Mignolet in one minute first tipping a rocket just over the bar followed by an ill-advised half-attempt to clear the subsequent corner, his arms flapping in the wind like the Belgian second choice. I personally didn’t have a quarrel with Roman’s concession of the second. Haraguchi positioned himself perfectly in the wall, blocking Bürki’s view just enough before Plattenhardt sent a bullet just out of Roman’s reach into the top shelf. It’s never good to get beaten near post on a free kick with a wall allowing you to cheat, but Dortmund couldn’t push away Haraguchi and if you look at the replay Bürki did react very quickly but that kick was just that hard.
Marc didn’t have the best match in comparison to his last outings but played decently enough. Because, like Hummels, Marc really needs a hard man defender to protect his riskier decisions, he suffered from not having his Greek enforcer on his left. Forced to play on his less-preferred right, he still was able to rush forward in the build-up play.
As harsh as it sounds Matze was punished twice for two mistakes. His first awful first touch turnover to Ibisevic started the counterattack that led to the Kalou tap-in and forced Dortmund to play catch-up. Far too often, whenever Dortmund struggle in a game it is because of a bad mistake at the back early in the match. Ginter’s second mistake was in fouling a very energetic Mitch Weiser, who’s introduction following Dortmund’s equalizer changed the game for the Berliners. Weiser beat Ginter by position and Matze was forced into a bad challenge. The subsequent free kick by Plattenhardt sealed the match. Ginter still has a lot of potential to be a regular in the Bundesliga, but unfortunately, he needs regular match time to reach it. Dortmund may not be the place to do so with better options in front of him on the depth chart. With Toprak inbound, the end of Ginter’s time at Dortmund may be upon us soon.
We learned that center back, even in a back three does not suit the Dortmund captain. Schmelzer was uncomfortable in the role and he showed his unfamiliarity in it by taking far too many risks that his normal position as left back could allow. Too often he lost a challenge and was forced into a bad challenge as the attacker was left with a far more direct path to goal than Schmelle is typically used to on the wing.
Durm is perhaps polarizing because of his massive inconsistencies. When he is on, he is on. Today, he was not. His lack of technical skills was on full display as he was granted very little maneuvering room. His heavy first touch led to numerous turnovers and bad follow-on passes. He would have been given a three for this match were it not for the near assist he got on a good cross to Aubameyang in the second half.
Rather than rating Weigl in this game, the rating should go to Vladamir Darida who, by the end of the match, must have known what flavor chewing gum Julian had between his teeth. Weigl was marked out of the match in the build-up play by Darida for nearly two thirds of the game. When Weigl was able to shake his marker, he uncharacteristically forced several bad vertical passes that were picked off.
#GoodCastro is back and praises be for it. Darida’s concentration on Weigl opened up space for Gonzalo who exploited it well. Not as great a performance as his last few outings, but with his wingers playing woefully, that is to be expected.
Raph had a nightmare of a first half playing by himself on the wing with a terrible Andre Schürrle supporting him on the left. Similar to Pulisic’s bad outings, he was marooned on the left and double-teamed off the ball consistently. Had a better time in the second half as he moved inside to the half-spaces and left the unidirectional Schürrle the wing to himself.
Shinji played the best he has all season and was the only real bright spot throughout the match for Dortmund. In a match that was characterized by movement through the center and lack of wing and half-space support, Shinji shined as he so often does when his space is confined. He is the only player in my mind for whom losing the ball between his feet is more of a strategy than a lack of technique as his close control and quick feet allowed him to beat more than three at a time throughout the match. Unfortunately, he usually lacked an open teammate at the end of his dribbles who could finish off his efforts. He had the assist to Aubameyang and created the goal by drawing a double-team that left the Gabonese striker alone in the area. Tuchel must be pleased to have Shinji as an option going forward.
André had the worst match I have ever seen him have at any of his former clubs. He serially made poor decisions, shooting the ball into the stands every time he got a sniff of goal. Starting in the half-spaces in the first half he refused to play diagonally and made marking him the easiest job on the pitch for Hertha’s defense. He should have been hauled off at half-time, but Tuchel’s match congestion forced him to hold fire on making that change until later in the game. The coach’s decision to push him out to the far-left wing made lemonade out of lemons in that at least it forced Hertha to open their defense and allow Guerreiro to manipulate the half-spaces that Schürrle had spurned up to that point. How André Schürrle has ever become Germany’s most expensive player of all time (through aggregated transfer fees) is beyond me. His inability to perform consistently on four high-level teams in the past six years is shocking given his cost. Euro for Euro, the worst transfer of Dortmund’s previous five years.
Half of Schurrle's passes today were directly backwards passes down left touchline pic.twitter.com/1Bg2t0ctDo— Saturdays on Couch (@SaturdayOnCouch) March 11, 2017
Took his one goal very well. Missed an open net from Durm’s cross, but it was very difficult to latch on to. As usual for a striker who relies on service from his teammates, when they do not perform their job, he cannot perform his.
Probably came on far too late to make a definitive impact on the match. The Frenchman showed his immaturity again in getting himself booked in a confrontation with Mitch Weiser. On the surface, Weiser made an absolute idiot of himself by throwing a tantrum following a foul whistled on him, punting the ball down the field, then throwing himself to the floor and rolling like a three-year-old over a second following physical contact. Additional replays show Dembélé landing on the ex-Bayern player’s plant foot as he punted the ball while trying to wrest it from his control. If anything it should have been a five-yard penalty for running into the kicker vice the imposed roughing the kicker implying a level of intent. Honestly though, Dembélé has little to complain about as he does this tactic far too often himself, albeit not quite as ludicrously as Weiser.
As his fellow teenager, Christian had too little time to impact the match, but was always direct and opened up spaces with his technical ability and vision.
Had a brief run-out.