Favre’s side continued their unbeaten run in the Bundesliga, winning 12 of the first 15 games. Doing so, this made Dortmund the “Herbstmeister” or “Fall victors”, keeping pace with Bayern München and Borussia Mönchengladbach. Because Gladbach drew 1:1 against Hoffenheim, BVB pull 9 points ahead of München and Gladbach, ensuring top table status at the winter break in one week, with only Fortuna Düsseldorf and top table rival, Mönchengladbach, left to play. After the break, Dortmund’s third round opponent in the DFB Pokal will be this weekend’s opponent, Werder Bremen.
Lucien Favre (7) - Did well tactically to allow the team to succeed in the first half. Playing against Bremen’s hybrid 4-4-2 diamond, which often bent into several other shapes, he positioned Guerrero up to succeed, playing in the pockets of Bremen’s defensive setup. The combination of Reus and Alcacer worked from the start, as both combined for goals, earned through decent pressing and relentless counters. He made the right adjustments as Werder fought back in the latter stages of the game, and his offensive subs forced Werder back in the last 10 minute of the match. The match was not as complete of a performance as it could have been, but it featured the various strengths of the squad.
Roman Bürki (8) - Could do nothing against a wicked strike from Kruse for Werder’s goal. It is comforting to know that when the match does get close towards the end, Dortmund have a keeper with newly found confidence in net, contrasting the Bürki of old. Was reliable when called upon.
Lukasz Piszczek (7) - Solid performance all around. Had a couple stray balls that were taken advantage of by the opposition’s press, but was all around consistent. Had a collision early with Werder’s Selassie, but carried on, much to my dismay. I think the Bundesliga’s, and FIFA’s or UEFA’s, concussion protocol needs to be updated, because head injuries should be taken more seriously, and it looked like he could have had one in that moment.
Manuel Akanji (8) - The rock of the back line. Again. Absolutely immense, and covered extremely well when Witsel, Delaney, or Hakimi were caught out.
Abdou Diallo (8) - When a defender hardly puts a step wrong all game, one can barely tell that he is even playing. And Diallo did that today, bar several quality tackles outside of the 18 yard box.
Achraf Hakimi (7) - Was somewhat slow to come into the game, but he was brought into the offensive by some excellent combination play and movement by Guerrero. Always looking for that run down the left, he looked dangerous at times. Some of his movement in the passing play left the area behind him vulnerable, and that needs to be worked on, especially if the play breaks down.
Axel Witsel (8) - Had a 99% pass completion rate. With Delaney holding down the pivot in the offensive, Witsel looked to move forward, and did so successfully. I wish Favre set up the side to have more possession in the middle, especially in the second half, but Witsel did excellently to keep “die Schwartzgelben” in control of the match.
Thomas Delaney (7) - Had 8 ball recoveries in the match, did well to shield the back line over the course of the match, and decently distributed the ball going forward. Could have done better trying to close down Kruse for the goal, as he did watch the ball and the runner, but to pin the blame on him would be a stretch.
Jadon Sancho (7) - Had an assist for Reus’s goal. His movement in combination with Piszczek and the front line was excellent, but lacked the end product to finish off an opportunity that could have put the match to bed. Was a solid display, but not his best, compared to recent weeks.
Marco Reus (9) - Sensational as always, and makes the entire team run like clockwork. His movement, pressing, leadership, creativity, and combination play improved everyone around him and elevated the team.
Raphael Guerrero (9) MOTM - Took advantage of the space next to the outside back and in-front of the opposition’s back line. Delivered a magical assist for the first goal, and was a consistent threat going forward. Combined well with Hakimi, and brought him into the attack successfully. A quality audition to become Sancho’s partner on the other wing. Was involved in the majority of dangerous opportunities throughout the match.
Paco Alcacer (8) - Despite his success, Paco has played at his best whilst coming off of the bench late in matches. Today was perhaps his most complete performance as a starter, which has been the rarity. Adding a goal to his impressive tally was perhaps the cherry on top.
Mario Götze (7) - Would have scored his first goal in a while, had it not been called offside using VAR. Continues to make progress in relearning the striker position.
Christian Pulisic (N/A) - Added some energy going forwards that forced Bremen to play more defensively in the final minutes of the game.
Maximilian Philipp (N/A) - Was offside for what would have been an assist in the 95th minute. Favre seems to be tinkering in how Philipp will fit this team going forward.
Some talking points:
What are your thoughts on how everyone played?
And what are your thoughts on the protocol of head injuries in the Bundesliga? Do there need to be adjustments?
What adjustments would you make to the side to compensate for certain problems on the pitch, and why?