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Julian Weigl’s Midfield Play was Critical to Dortmund’s Success

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Borussia Dortmund Celebrates Winning The DFB Cup 2017 Photo by Pool - Getty Images

Julian Weigl is not the most flashy player. He isn’t one to break out fancy skill moves, burst by players with pace, or score highlight reel golazos. And yet myself, and probably most BVB fans, would consider him one of Dortmund’s most important players. His vision, maturity on the ball, and brilliant passing ability make him indispensable in Dortmund’s midfield.

The Good

When I think of how best to describe Weigl as a player, one word that comes to mind is ‘reliable’. He is almost always match fit, which is both impressive for his age, and important, given his role in the squad. As the sole holding midfielder, he has numerous responsibilities. While his passing and dribbling on the ball are well-documented, his defensive contributions are pretty underrated as well, especially he plays with more attacking-minded midfielders. His ability to quickly regain possession and strip the ball from opponents is vital to the squad’s success.

He can generally be counted on to hold roughly a 90% pass percentage, and navigate opposing markers relatively well. He is remarkably calm on the ball, especially as a youngster: even though he is frequently under pressure, he remains calm and distribute the ball well.

One aspect that I like about his game is his long passing. Check out this video here:

And this one:

Let’s not forget, of course, that despite his reputation as a passer, Weigl can rake:

Or, you know, he has raked at least once.

During the second half of the season, Weigl was critical to Dortmund’s success, both in the Bundesliga and in the Champions League. When he was injured, his absence was noteworthy: even though Nuri Sahin played well, he was not as effective as Weigl, especially in terms of passing.

The Bad

After a breakout year last season, many expected him to help carry Dortmund to new heights. Instead, the loss of Ilkay Gündogan and the inconsistency of Rode, Götze, and Castro gave Weigl quite a tough time. The RB Leipzig defeat is the most prime example of this: Hassenhüttl figured that the bulls could pretty much ignore Sebastian Rode, and instead double or triple-team Weigl, forcing him into outnumbered situations.

However, as the year progressed, and with the introduction of Raphaël Guerreiro into midfield, Weigl began to improve. Unfortunately, he injured his ankle before the DFB Final, but he is still on the road to recovery, and will hopefully start next season healthy.

The Future

Moving forward, Julian Weigl is one of Dortmund’s most important players. He is the midfielder of the future. The addition of Mahmoud Dahoud, who many are hoping will finally be a replacement for Ilkay Gündogan, should give him the midfield partner that he needs, so that he won’t be swarmed as much as he was this season. I think he will fit pretty well under Peter Bosz, as his skill set is pretty important in a pressing system.

There were rumors earlier in the year that Real Madrid would try to poach him, but it looks like they’re set with Casemiro. It looks like Weigl will be around for the long hall.