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Match Ratings: Borussia Dortmund 0:2 Atletico Madrid

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BVB failed to break down Atletico Madrid’s high press and staunch defense.

Club Atletico de Madrid v Borussia Dortmund - UEFA Champions League Group A
Jacob Bruun Larsen was brought on late in Borussia Dortmund’s 2-0 loss to Atletico Madrid.
Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images

Two weeks after Borussia Dortmund thrashed Atletico Madrid 4-0 at the Westfalenstadion, the Spaniards returned the favor, dominating BVB in a decisive 2-0 victory. Atletico looked determined, and were the better side from beginning to end. With Der Klassiker looming, BVB will need to put this defeat behind them and focus on preparing for this weekend’s showdown with Bayern Munich.

Here are our match ratings:

Manager

Lucien Favre: 4

Favre got this one wrong, folks. Rather than rotate and rest some key players for Der Klassiker, Favre instead chose to field the closest thing BVB have to an A-lineup, with a front-four of Paco Alcacer, Christian Pulisic, Marco Reus, and Jadon Sancho. Like many other European giants who have fallen away to Atletico, BVB’s big guns were unable to generate much of anything in terms of offense.

Tactically speaking, this was a Simeone masterclass. In the reverse fixture, BVB struck first and managed to pick off Atletico Madrid on the counter. Atletico ensured this wouldn’t happen again, running a high press from the start that forced BVB away from the wings into the center of the pitch, where Atletico’s strikers and center midfielders quickly closed down Thomas Delaney and Axel Witsel. Atletico struck first off of a BVB turnover, and did what they do best: absorb pressure and strike on the counter, leading to a clinical 2-0 victory.

Starting XI

Roman Bürki: 8 (MOTM)

Bürki seemed to be the only BVB player who showed up to play. From the first minute on, Atletico fired away at Bürki’s net, and for the most part, he was up to the task, making 5 saves on 7 shots on target. On Atletico’s first goal, there was absolutely nothing he could do, as Manuel Akanji inadvertently roofed the ball into his own net.

Achraf Hakimi: 5

For much of the first half, Hakimi was BVB’s only bright spot on the attack. While nothing he did ever resulted in a clear chance, he at least had some bright runs that got past a few defenders. His turnover partially caused Atletico’s first goal, and he could’ve done a better job marking Antoine Griezmann on the Frenchman’s goal.

Omer Toprak: 4

Like the defense as a whole, Toprak struggled to contain Atletico’s striker pairing, and had to be bailed out by Roman Bürki time and time again. He had a pass completion rate of 95%, which to me is a reflection of BVB’s inability to penetrate Atletico’s midfield, and ensuing tendency to pass along the back line.

Manuel Akanji: 5

Akanji’s deflection on Atletico’s first goal was unfortunate, but there wasn’t much he could do about it. He had a few well-timed tackles and blocked shots, but still had a difficult time dealing with the technical ability of the likes of Saul, Griezmann, and Correa.

Lukasz Piszczek: 5

A lot pundits have absolutely panned Piszczek for his performance last night. While I would agree that he could have done a lot better, and was caught out of position multiple times, I also think he was largely set up to fail, being forced to play so narrow and largely without any defensive support from Pulisic or Thomas Delaney, the two players who were in any position to help. He also single-handedly prevented a goal when he slid in front of Saul in the 43rd minute to stop the Spaniard from slamming home a goal.

Axel Witsel: 6

Considering how hard Atletico pressed the Witsel-Delaney pivot, Witsel actually fared okay. He was BVB’s brightest outfield player (which, if anything, is an indictment of BVB’s outfield). He fought valiantly against Atletico’s front men, and still managed to play around them with a solid pass completion rate of 94%.

Thomas Delaney: 4

If you think back to the reverse fixture, Delaney mostly struggled and suffered an injury during the first half and was subbed off for Mahmoud Dahoud, whose creativity helped create two of BVB’s goals. Delaney struggled against Atletico again, as Simeone had his men close Delaney down whenever he was on the ball. While Delaney had some positive defensive contributions, he mostly struggled to move the play forward in midfield. I would’ve liked to see Mahmoud Dahoud brought in to try and improve Dortmund’s fluidity in midfield.

Marco Reus: 6

Marco had some bright runs going forward, and looked the brightest of BVB’s front four (which isn’t saying much). In the end he didn’t contribute much.

Christian Pulisic: 4

Pulisic was given a chance to make up for some of his recent, lesser performances. He didn’t do much with this opportunity. He constantly dribbled right into Atletico Madrid’s defenders. His tendency to take things by himself took the steam out of several BVB attacks, and his defensive contributions were limited. He was understandably frustrated with his poor performance, and seemed visibly angry after coming off.

To anyone who says I’m being unfair on Pulisic, rest easy, because...

Jadon Sancho: 4

Sancho was just as wasteful in possession as his American counterpart. Atletico Madrid’s right side held him down all night, which led to him being subbed off for Jacob Bruun Larsen.

Paco Alcacer: 5

Paco Alcacer had 14 touches in 78 minutes, which amounts to one touch every 5 minutes and 30 seconds. By comparison, Roman Bürki had 50. That’s not good. To be fair, nobody is better than Atletico Madrid at shutting out strikers, and BVB’s midfield provided basically no service to him through the entire match. Even so, he managed to create BVB’s only real scoring chance of the match, a low cross that found Raphael Guerreiro in the box, whose header soared over the bar.

Substitutes

Raphael Guerreiro: 5

Guerreiro was brought on for Christian Pulisic in the 58th minute. As I mentioned above, he had BVB’s best scoring chance of the night, a header that missed by a wide margin. To be fair, the cross from Alcacer was hit pretty hard, so Raph didn’t have a lot of time to react, but he still could have done better.

Jacob Bruun Larsen: N/A

JBL didn’t have enough time to have any impact on the match.

Mario Götze: N/A

Mario had a few decent moments in Atletico’s half, but still didn’t have much time to contribute anything.

Your Thoughts

What did you think of BVB’s performance? Are we ready for Der Klassiker this weekend? Leave your thoughts below.