After ninety excruciating minutes of gridlock and inaction, both Borussia Dortmund and Club Brugge left the Westfalenstadion with one point, no goals, and little dignity. While BVB clinched a spot in the Champions League round of 16, they likely ceded first place in Group A to Atletico Madrid, and will likely have to play a much more difficult opponent in the first stage of the knockout round. Club Brugge have officially been eliminated for contention for the Champions League knockout round, but have also secured a spot in the Europa League round of 32.
From BVB’s perspective, it was a disappointing performance and a frustrating result. Here are our match ratings:
Lucien Favre: 6
It’s hard to imagine what Favre could have done to improve the game’s outcome. He fielded a strong starting XI and made the right subs, but Club Brugge sat too deep and defended too well. This heatmap from Whoscored.com shows how difficult it was for BVB to penetrate Brugge’s defensive lines:
Even though BVB’s back four frequently set up shop in Brugge’s half, the entire squad had a hard time getting the ball into high-danger areas, outside of one or two chances. When the other side is so compact, whether or not a breakthrough occurs usually relies on the creativity and talent of the attackers. While BVB made some decent chances, and probably should have scored once or twice, it was ultimately not enough to scratch out a goal.
Roman Bürki: π
Like always, because he didn’t have to face any shots, I’ve chosen to give Bürki a rating of pi. Speaking of pie, how was everybody’s thanksgiving?
Abdou Diallo: 6
Lucien Favre chose to rest Achraf Hakimi, and instead played Abdou Diallo as a left back, a role Diallo frequently assumed while at Mainz. He made some spirited runs forward and put some dangerous crosses into the box, but ultimately lacked the end product necessary to create a goal. While he wasn’t poor as a left back, I would prefer that Hakimi remain BVB’s starting left back, and that Diallo rotate with Zagadou and Akanji at center back. There was one moment in the first half when Diallo had Alcacer and Pulisic accompanying him on a 3-on-3, and Diallo couldn’t pick out an effective pass to either forward.
Dan Axel Zagadou: 7
Zagadou didn’t have to do much defensively, because Brugge posed such an impotent attacking threat. His ball distribution was solid, although BVB’s more forward players were unable to ever convert his service into a goal.
Manuel Akanji: 7
Just like Zagadou, Akanji didn’t have to do much in terms of defense. He also provided adequate passing along the back line.
Lukasz Piszczek: 6
Emmanuel Bonaventure Dennis, arguably Brugge’s most effective forward, seemed to give Lukasz trouble at times, but for the most part Lukasz was equally effective defensively.
Axel Witsel: 7
Witsel did what he needed to do, providing a reliable passing outlet in midfield and setting the tempo of the match. He had a remarkable 98% pass completion rating. Unfortunately, most of those passes involved recycling the ball around the back line rather than creating chances.
Mahmoud Dahoud: 5
It was a typically frustrating performance from Dahoud. While he had some bright moments, he also made some characteristically poor decisions and turnovers at times when BVB looked threatening.
Christian Pulisic: 8 (MOTM)
While writing this, I was trying to think of some truly positive takeaways for BVB. Christian Pulisic’s performance is the only one I can think of. He was the only Dortmund player who looked like a consistent threat. Although he didn’t get on the scoresheet, he played a hand in all of Dortmund’s primary chances, including one in the first half that forced a save from Brugge’s keeper. He also led the squad with six dribbles.
Marco Reus: 5
Marco’s primary contribution to the match was missing a sitter midway through the first half. He found himself in alone against the keeper, but pulled his shot wide. It was a moment that summarized how Reus’s game as a whole went.
Raphael Guerreiro: 6
He showed some flashes of brilliance, most notably an almost-sublime passing combination with Alcacer that could have resulted in a goal. He was subbed off for Jadon Sancho after 72 minutes.
Paco Alcacer: 5
Paco’s teammates didn’t provide him much service, but when they did, he didn’t do much with it. His primary chance was one moment in the second half when Paco received the ball from Sancho at the top of the 18-yard line, but unfortunately his shot flew just over the crossbar.
Jadon Sancho: 6
Sancho came off the bench to try and take advantage of Brugge’s defenders’ tired legs. Unforunately, Brugge still had enough energy to contain Sancho. While Sancho did set up Paco’s miss, he didn’t do much else in the time he was on.
Achraf Hakimi: N/A
He only played for 10 minutes, at a time when Brugge’s bus was fully parked.
Thomas Delaney: N/A
He only had four touches, but he did come close to connecting on a corner in the final moments of the match.
What did you think of yesterday’s performance? Leave your thoughts below.