Good teams win when they’re at their best. Champions win when they’re not at their best. Borussia Dortmund were not at their best yesterday, but they still managed to take three points from a difficult showdown at the Volkswagen Arena against a determined VFL Wolfsburg.
Here are our match ratings:
Lucien Favre: 7
Wolfsburg proved to be a tough nut to crack. They conceded possession to BVB, but set up deep in an organized and compact defensive 4-3-3. Favre fielded what seems to be his preferred midfield, with a combination of Witsel and Delaney in front of the center backs and Marco Reus pushing forward. BVB chose to mostly attack down the left flank, which was ultimately where their lone goal came. Although the result was a close one, it’s hard to argue that BVB didn’t deserve the victory, as they held the vast majority of quality chances.
Roman Bürki: 6
It’s hard to believe how much Bürki has improved this season. While he wasn’t pressured a ton yesterday, he was always there to answer the call when needed.
Achraf Hakimi: 5
Hakimi held down Wolfsburg’s left side well enough, although he looked less than assured doing it. As always, whenever he drove forward, he was energetic and always looked to create chances, even though his end product was a bit off (1/6 successful crosses, 0 key passes).
Dan-Axel Zagadou: 7
Zagadou seems to have completely moved on from his massive error against Hertha last weekend. Yet again, the giant center back was a rock on defense, with 3 clearances, 4 interceptions, and 1 blocked shot. Although his physicality is his most glaring attribute, he’s also incredibly calm in possession, and can hold his own distributing the ball into midfield. He showed this against Wolfsburg, with several pinpoint long balls and a solid pass completion rate.
Manuel Akanji: 7
Akanji made his first appearance since suffering an injury while playing for Switzerland. He picked up right where he left off. Wolfsburg didn’t challenge him as much as they challenged Zagadou, but Akanji’s positioning was still fantastic, and he was professional on the ball as always.
Raphael Guerreiro: 8 (MOTM)
Guerreiro has mostly played as a winger this sseason, but he proved yesterday that he can still slide into the left back position when needed. He led BVB in touches (98), dribbles (4), successful crosses (3/8), and also put in a solid defensive performance.
Axel Witsel: 6
Witsel was again a stable presence in Dortmund’s midfield, with a solid pass completion rate (93%). His passing wasn’t as direct as it’s been throughout the season, with much of Dortmund’s most effective attacks coming from wide positions rather than through the middle.
Thomas Delaney: 7
His header on Dortmund’s lone goal was either the worst headed-shot I’ve ever seen, or one of the best headed-passes I’ve ever seen. Regardless, he played a non-zero role in Dortmund’s only goal, and I suppose deserves credit for that. He put in a clinic in his role as a defensive midfielder, with three interceptions and three tackles, although his pass completion rate was lower than it should be (77%).
Jadon Sancho: 6
His cross that eventually set up Dortmund’s only goal was a thing of beauty, although he didn’t contribute much else. He was subbed off for Christian Pulisic after 78 minutes.
Marco Reus: 7
Mr. 1-0 lived up to his reputation, with only the fourth headed-goal of his career putting Dortmund ahead for good. It wasn’t Marco’s most prolific performance, but he did what was needed to get BVB the win.
Jacob Bruun Larsen: 5
The young Dane was mostly quiet yesterday, although he did have a few bright moments. His through ball that found Jadon Sancho in the 26th minute ultimately led to BVB’s goal. While he did create a turnover in the 78th minute that put him in alone on goal, he unfortunately couldn’t finish it, putting a curled shot just wide of the post. He played 89 minutes, which means he’ll probably start on the bench against Atletico or Bayern.
Paco Alcacer: 5
For the first time this season, Paco Alcacer had a quiet performance. His best chance came in the 45th minute, when he could have taken a shot in close, but instead laid the ball off to Raphael Guerreiro, whose shot was blocked.
Christian Pulisic: N/A
The young American only saw 12 minutes of action, and didn’t have much time to make his mark on the pitch.
Maximilian Philipp: N/A
Philipp also came on in the 78th minute, and spent most of those 12 minutes with BVB defending against Wolfsburg’s efforts to tie the match up.
Omer Toprak: N/A
Toprak came on in the 90th minute, basically just to waste stoppage time.
What did you think of BVB’s performance? Are we ready for two very difficult matches coming up? Leave your thoughts below.