Ladies and Gentlemen, Borussia Dortmund are back.
Over the past couple years, Peter Bosz’s tenure notwithstanding, BVB has performed decently in Europe. In 2016-17, under Thomas Tuchel, BVB held Real Madrid to two 2-2 draws. In 2015-16, BVB gave Tottenham Hotspur a hiding in the Europa League. Those were nice performances, to be sure, but to find the last time BVB ran roughshod over a European giant like Atletico Madrid, you’d have to go all the way back to 2012-13, when Jürgen Klopp and Robert Lewandowski tore Jose Mourinho’s Real Madrid apart at the Signal Iduna Park during the Champions League semifinal.
And we all know where that took us.
This was just one match, though, and we still have a long way to go before BVB have proven anything. Here are our match ratings:
Lucien Favre: 9
Lucien Favre has officially won me over. The fact that Borussia Dortmund just gave Diego Simeone, one of the most successful managers in the game today, one of the worst defeats of his career, says a lot about how far Favre has brought this club, and where it has the potential to go.
Getting Atletico to open up is never easy. For much of the first half, BVB were as cautious as Atletico, letting the Spaniards maintain most of the possession. BVB and Atletico both focus on counter-attacking, so it was BVB who seemed to be more comfortable in this state.
During the second half, Favre had BVB sit back, and BVB’s remarkably well-organized defense was able to absorb Atletico’s offense, before putting the match away on the counter.
Roman Bürki: 8
BVB’s #1 was fantastic yet again. Whenever BVB passed back to him, Diego Costa and Antoine Griezmann would sprint hard at him, trying to get him to turn the ball over. While the Roman Bürki of past years probably would have panicked, this year’s Bürki was remarkably calm, and played out the back with ease. He also made two saves, including one on a blistering shot from Angel Correa.
Achraf Hakimi: 9
Yes he made several mistakes, including a bizarre moment when he stepped in front of Marco Reus, who was in on goal by himself.
In the end, it doesn’t matter, because outside of those mistakes, Hakimi was electric from start to finish. It could be that he was motivated to beat the cross-town rivals of his parent club, but either way, he looked like a man on a mission. He collected three (3!) assists, and was a constant threat going forward, using his pace and dribbling ability to rip through Atletico’s defense.
Dan-Axel Zagadou: 8
I don’t think that I, or anyone else, could describe Zagadou’s performance as much as this picture does. Trying to contain Antoine Griezmann and Diego Costa is a daunting task, but Zagadou managed it with ease.
Abdou Diallo: 8
Like his CB counterpart, Diallo was superb captaining the back line. Not only did he keep Griezmann and Costa in check, but he frequently used his pace to slice forward into midfield to jumpstart the offense.
Lukasz Piszczek: 7
An old legend surrounded by youth, Piszczek continues to play the role of the wily veteran. He often found himself defending 1-on-1 against Diego Costa. While a younger, more aggressive full back might have fallen for Costa’s fake shots and cut backs, Piszczek was having none of it, and consistently stripped him off the ball. He was also excellent holding down Thomas Lemar and Antoine Griezmann.
Axel Witsel: 10 (MOTM)
Axel Witsel’s performance last night was truly world class. His passes were incisive and precise, he handled Madrid’s press with ease, he was solid defensively, and he even managed a goal of his own, although it did involve a lucky deflection. It’s not often that one player can simply enforce his will upon a match; Witsel did that last night.
Thomas Delaney: 6
Unfortunately, Thomas Delaney suffered an apparent ankle injury roughly 30 minutes into the match. While he tried to play through it, he ultimately had to come off several minutes later. Before his injury, he looked like he was struggling to break through Atletico’s midfield.
Mario Götze: 7
Mario was relatively quiet for long periods of the match, but he made up for it with a beautiful through-ball to Achraf Hakimi that set up Dortmund’s third goal.
Jacob Bruun Larsen: 6
The young Dane has been magnificent throughout the season, but he was largely kept quiet last night. This is more than understandable, considering he was playing against one of the best defensive sides in Europe.
Christian Pulisic: 7
Pulisic may not have gotten on the score sheet, but there were still several moments when he seriously threatened Atletico Madrid. He sent a curler from inside the box just over the bar during the first half, and played a role in the buildup on Dortmund’s first goal.
Marco Reus: 7
Reus can thank Achraf Hakimi for keeping him off the score sheet, given he likely would have scored had Hakimi not been in the way. Otherwise, Reus was as electric as ever, frequently dropping deep to break up Atletico’s possession and contributing to Dortmund’s defense.
Mahmoud Dahoud: 8
At first, I thought Dahoud had a rather quiet performance. When I went back and watched the match highlights, though, I realized that he played a significant role in Dortmund’s first two goals. Both times, it was Dahoud who sent Hakimi running down the left wing with through balls, where Hakimi found Witsel and Guerreiro respectively. If this were hockey, Dahoud would have collected two secondary assists. Instead, he was left off the score sheet entirely.
Raphael Guerreiro: 8
Guerreiro was clinical in front of the net, burying his two chances with ease. He didn’t contribute much else, but he scored two goals, so I’m not complaining.
Jadon Sancho: 7
He only played about 10 minutes. He scored on a tap-in (that looked offside to me), but by then the match’s result was basically already decided.
What did you think of BVB’s performance last night? Leave your thoughts below.