In the offseason many pundits and Bayern fans hilariously claimed Rode moving from Munich to Dortmund was a sign of increasing parity in the Bundesliga. But even at the time, he was a curious buy. After all, he wasn’t a great replacement for the play making and dribbling wizardry of Gundogan. Rode’s tackling and stamina were supposed to make up for it and be a perfect fit for a pressing system. Unfortunately, that wasn’t even remotely true.
To be fair to the former Frankfurt man, injuries limited him to only 21 appearances across all competitions. Fans, pundits, and coaches saw all they needed during those appearances though. Rode was consistently mediocre at best and often hurt the team with his poor play. But let’s start with the good news.
The Good: A Hopeful Beginning
At the start of the season it looked like Sebastian would take Gundogan’s old spot in the XI. In fact, it looked like Watzke had gotten another steal on the transfer market. Rode began spectacularly in the Supercup against Bayern. He bossed the midfield making timely tackles, intelligent runs, and insightful passes.
.@Sebastianrode20 vs Bayern:— BVBstatistics (@BVBstat) August 14, 2016
1 key pass
72 accurate passes
90% pass completion
He was nearly as good in the encore against Mainz for the Bundesliga opener. As a central midfielder Rode brought his trademark tackling and energy for 86 minutes almost scoring a goal in the process. Josh Hall at Fear The Wall even wrote:
The Bad: Everything Else
Unfortunately, the “Energizer Bunny” never truly rediscovered that energy. Rode was absolutely horrible against Leipzig in Matchweek 2. Many of the weaknesses that people worried about in preseason came to the forefront. He was atrocious in the buildup play and showed complete incompetence in keeping possession. Somehow, Tuchel left him in for the full 90’. But Rode never seemed to regain his confidence after that disastrous performance. Regardless of the opponent our number 18 was often anonymous. Tuchel even tried to get him involved as a fullback against lesser opposition like Legia. If anything, the change in position saw even poorer performances from Rode.
The Future: Not in Black and Yellow
It’s hard to describe Rode’s season as anything but extremely disappointing even considering injuries. He doesn’t look like he has a place in the team in midfield or at fullback. In defense, Passlack and Durm both look like better backups. In midfield, Sahin, Gurreiro, and Castro should all be ahead in the pecking order. I’d be very surprised if Rode was still a Dortmund player by next season. He’s still only 26 and a high quality player that should be playing on a weekly basis. If one of the mid to lower table Bundesliga teams want him or if Tottenham are still interested, Watzke should try to recover part of the 12 million euros we paid for him. Sad to see a player who cheered BVB as a child go, but this should be Rode’s last disappointing season in Dortmund.