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Hinrunde Review: Strikers & Wingers

A not very in-depth look at Dortmund’s strikers and wingers

Borussia Dortmund v SV Zulte Waregem - Friendly Match Photo by TF-Images/TF-Images via Getty Images

With the 2017 Hinrunde officially in the books, and there’s a lot to digest from the first half of this season: Our amazing start, our collapse, our dumpster fire Champions League campaign, the end of our bid to repeat as Pokal champions. We saw our new manager get the heave-hoe after five months on the job, and we brought in former Köln manager Peter Stöger as caretaker (or permanent manager depending on the rest pf the season).

In my entry to the series of Hinrunde reviews, I’ll be taking a look at our wingers and strikers. I did the best I could to present a fair, somewhat deep analysis of our attacking options. I didn’t really watch the games with a tactical eye at the start of the season, nor have I been able to watch them every weekend due to work or events I did with my now fiancé.

As a whole, a winger or striker scored 37 of the team’s 58 goals across all competitions, and 24 of BVB’s 39 Bundesliga goals. We’re getting good production out of our forwards and wide players, but they could definitely be doing better now considering how they performed at the start of the season. Yeah they’re leading the Bundesliga in goals scored with 39, but keep in mind they tallied 21 of those goals in the first seven games of the season and only 15 since. We saw a nice uptick in goals towards the end, but they didn’t result in any wins and that forced Watzke and Zorc to give Bosz his pink slip and bring in Stöger.

Let’s take a gander at how our strikers and wingers have been playing up to this point.

Pierre-Emerick Aubamayeng, Striker

Winner of the Torscützenkönig as the top goalscorer of last season, our main man Aubamayeng has once again been the focal point of our offense. The Gabonese striker leads the team with 13 Bundesliga goals in 15 starts, placing him second behind Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowski for the Torscützenkönig. He started the year off great with 10 goals in the team’s first eight games, but after his two goals against RB Leipzig his production took a nose-dive where he went goalless in the next three matches. There were a number of sitters he filed to capitalize on, and there were calls for him to be dropped from the starting lineup. However, he’s seemed to find his scoring touch again as he’s hit the back of the net in three of the last four league matches and twice in the team’s final Champions League match.

With a contract extension locking him in the black and yellow until 2021, Aubamayeng shouldn’t be going anywhere in the near future, and he should continue to remain the primary striking option moving into the Rückrunde. Unless he forces a transfer out or Watzke and Zorc buy someone better and younger, he’s our guy.

Hinrunde Rating –

Christian Pulisic, Winger

The Golden Boy of America, Pulisic was coming off a strong summer campaign with the United States . Playing on both the left and right side of the field this season, he started off the season red-hot with the club’s first goal of the season. It was a great goal through an incredibly tight window, and he finished the 3-0 season-opening win with a terrific assist for Aubamayeng’s first goal of the year. He would score again against Hamburg, but after that his goals and assists dried up until the Hoffenheim game. He’d have moments of magic here and there, like that glorious nutmeg of Arjen Robben that led to a Marc Bartra goal against Bayern Munich, but statistically he’s been underperforming.

Perhaps the wear-and-tear of shouldering all the expectations and pressure of being the focal point of the USMNT has finally gotten to him, maybe he’s simply not ready physically for playing every game in a season (he’s still 19, after all), but hopefully he’s able to bounce back after the winter break. With his speed, fearlessness to attack, and ability to backtrack on defense, I think he has the potential to be an incredible Dortmund winger for years to come. Now if only those jerks at Manchester United and Liverpool would stay the hell away from him.

Hinrunde Rating –

Maximilian Philipp, Winger

The big signing of the summer, Philipp joined the squad in June from Freiburg for roughly €20 million and immediately made it clear that this was a wise signing by the Dortmund leadership. Philipp’s first goal in a Dortmund kit came in the first two minutes of the 5-0 rout of Köln with a header off a Yarmolenko cross, while he punched in his second goal of the day with a beautiful chip of Köln’s keeper. He topped it two matches later with two goals inside the first 40 minutes and an assist against Borussia Mönchengladbach in the team’s 6-1 demolition of The Foals. Philipp also recorded two assists in Pokal play, while he put in solid outings during Champions League competition.

However, his Hinrunde would be cut short after he suffered a gross knee injury in the opening minutes of the team’s 1-1 draw at Bayer Leverkusen. It looked nasty in real time and subsequent replays, and the injury put him out of commission until Spring 2018. Hopefully his recovery goes quickly and safely, and that he’s not rushed back onto the pitch before he’s not fully healed.

Hinrunde Rating –

Andriy Yarmolenko, Winger

Oh Yarmo. Yarmo, Yarmo, Yarmo. After doing everything he could for Dynamo Kyiv, the Ukranian made a move up in competition with a £22.5 million transfer with some of the Dembélé-to-Barcelona transfer. He made his Dortmund debut on the right wing against Freiburg in his first week in a Dortmund jersey. He seemed to pay immediate dividends with a cracking goal against Tottenham in the Champions League before recording four assists and one goal in his first four Bundesliga games.

Unfortunately, he, along with the rest of the team, would begin to see a production dip. He’d still score two Pokal goals as well as important goals against Hanover and Leverkusen, but he still tends to do too much with the ball in an effort to give himself more space for something special than make that simple pass to a teammate. He also absolutely refuses to use his right foot, preferring instead to dance and fiddle around with the ball to get it onto his favored left foot. Even if he has a better chance to score or assist with his right foot. It’s driven me insane from the games I’ve seen this season, and I’m sure it’s driving you all just as nuts. Hopefully he can use his time off to work on his vision and his right foot, because he needs to use it to be more effective.

Hinrunde Rating –

Jadon Sancho, Winger

Dortmund brought over the teenage Englishman from the Manchester City youth system for £7.5 million with a look towards the future. Who would’ve known he’d not only make the bench for a Bundesliga game this season, but that he’d actually get minutes? He made his Bundesliga debut in the dying minutes of a 2-2 draw against Frankfurt, becoming the first Englishman to play a competitive match for the Black & Yellows. While he’s only made two first-team appearances thus far, he excelled for the U-19s in the UEFA Youth League, scoring three goals and assisting once in five games. Sancho was also a member of the England U-17 team that won the FIFA U-17 World Cup, even though he was recalled after the group stage.

I think the future is very bright for young Sancho. He’s got great footwork and vision for someone his age, and we should only see that plus his physical skills improve during his time at Dortmund. With Reus and Philipp eventually coming back from injury, that adds to a crowded wing position that may force Sancho to stay with the U-19s for an extended time. Which may not be the worst thing in the world.

Hinrunde Rating gif –

Alexander Isak, Striker

I honestly forgot he was still on the team. Not because I don’t like him or anything, but because I didn’t see him on the field enough for him to make a lasting impact in my dumb brain. I know he’s been included in the 18 for eighteen matches across all competitions, but so far this season he’s only made seven appearances on the field for 116 minutes of senior-team action. The majority of those minutes came in the Pokal, where his best game in a Dortmund kit came against FC Magdeburg and tallied a goal and an assist. In the league, however, he’s only seen the field twice for 13 total minutes.

Given his minutes this season, it’s clear that he’s not very high up on the striker/center forward depth chart. He’s obviously behind Aubamayeng, but he looks to be behind Yarmolenko, Philipp, and maybe even Schurrle. He’s still only 18, and with Dortmund out of the Pokal, I could see a scenario where he gets loaned out to a 2. Bundesliga side for the remainder of the season to give him some first-team minutes at a lower level of competition.

Hinrunde Rating -

André Schürrle, Winger

Man, what happened? It feels so long ago that we brought Schürrle for £27 million from Wolfsburg. Injuries have played a huge part in the decline of his skills, as he’s only played in 33 matches for 1,465 minutes. I mean, you look at his injury history since coming to Dortmund and it’s been nothing but leg injuries. But even when he’s been healthy and played this season, you can see he’s just not playing well. According to WhoScored, Schürrle has averaged a 6.29 match rating across all competitions this season. That’s not up to snuff for someone of Schürrle’s caliber. I think a move away from Dortmund, even a rumored loan, would be beneficial for both Dortmund and Schürrle at this point in his career.

Hinrunde Rating –

Marco Reus, Winger

Poor, poor Marco. The cover boy for FIFA 17 hasn’t seen the field since tearing his ACL in the DFB-Pokal Final last season. But there’s finally some good news for the world-class winger: he’s been seen training with a ball at his feet very recently. I’m going to be easy with my expectations for Reus returning from an injury of that severity… until he scores a hat-trick in his first game back.

Hinrunde Rating –

Jacob Bruun Larsen, Winger

Bruun Larsen has ascended through the ranks of the Dortmund academy, earning his first senior team appearance in the dying stages of the 3-0 win over Hamburg. His largest contribution to the organization was his four goals and three assists in the UEFA Youth Cup. Despite not advancing out of the group stage, JBL appears to have a nose for goal and can dish out assists. I’ll be keeping an eye on our versatile winger as much as possible, and maybe one day he’ll be making more than just a late cameo appearance on the field, but as of right now I don’t have enough from the eye test to give him a fair grade.

Hinrunde Rating -

As a whole, I’d say our attackers have been very up and down this season. With a lot of the ups coming in the beginning of the season during their unbeaten domestic run, while the downs came famously during the middle of the season until the sacking of Bosz. With our guys rested and our injured players inching closer to returning, things can only get better as the club strives to keep in the Champions League spots and maybe even overtake Bayern.

How do you guys think our wingers and strikers did? Let me know in the comments below.