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Are BVB’s Underlying Numbers a Cause for Concern?

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Arsenal FC v 1. FC Koeln - UEFA Europa League Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

Since Peter Stöger took over for Peter Bosz, Borussia Dortmund have ostensibly become much less focused on battering opponents with offense, and more focused on playing sound defense. As a result, BVB have maintained less possession, scored fewer goals, and taken fewer and conceded more shots.

Right away, this seems like a cause for concern. While BVB are yet to be defeated in the Bundesliga under Peter Stöger, there’s a feeling among the fan base, at least here on FTW, that a loss is inevitable. Thus far, BVB have not won a single match in convincing fashion, and they’ve been defeated in the Europa League. BVB are definitely more vulnerable than the squad’s Bundesliga results show, but a part of me is curious as to whether, even though BVB are surrendering lots of shots and chances, that BVB are successfully limiting the quality of those shots.

Shot Counts

Opponent BVB xG Score BVB Shot Count Opposing xG Score Opposing Shot Count BVB xG/Shot Opp. xG/Shot Result (BVB-OPP)
Opponent BVB xG Score BVB Shot Count Opposing xG Score Opposing Shot Count BVB xG/Shot Opp. xG/Shot Result (BVB-OPP)
Frankfurt 1.28 13 1.23 10 0.1 0.12 (3-2)
RB Leipzig 1.66 4 1.04 11 0.42 0.09 (1-1)
FC Augsburg 1.2 9 1.01 13 0.13 0.08 (1-1)
Gladbach 0.36 7 1.85 28 0.05 0.07 (1-0)
Hamburg 2.58 10 0.49 8 0.26 0.06 (2-0)
Köln 2.41 17 2.01 16 0.14 0.13 (3-2)
Freiburg 0.68 12 0.76 4 0.06 0.19 (2-2)
Hertha Berlin 1.65 11 0.8 9 0.15 0.09 (1-1)
Wolfsburg 2.56 18 0.7 9 0.14 0.08 (0-0)
Average 1.6 11.2 1.1 12 0.16 0.1
Shot Counts

Ok, there are some positives and negatives here. The good part is that BVB have outshot their opponents in 7 of the last 10 Bundesliga games, and won the expected goal battle in all but two of them. The bad news is that BVB are surrendering an awful lot of shots. Over the past 10 games, they’ve allowed, on average, more shots than they’ve attempted. Part of this can be attributed to the Gladbach game, where they were outshot by 21. However, if you look at other matches, even when BVB outshot their opponents, the shot counts were unsettlingly close, something we have not been used to over the past couple years.

More good news: BVB’s shot quality is much better than their opponents’. Their expected goals per shot is 0.16, compared to 0.1 for opposition teams. This indicates that even if BVB are surrendering a higher quantity of shots, they’re doing a relatively good job of keeping them out of the high danger areas.

Conclusion

Overall, BVB’s underlying numbers are definitely a reason for BVB to be concerned. While BVB overall have had the better expected goal numbers, the number of shots that they are surrendering means that there are plenty of opportunities for opposing teams to score goals. Against Mönchengladbach, for instance, BVB were extraordinarily lucky that Roman Bürki came to play and stopped a dozen or so shots on goal. We all know, however, that Bürki isn’t on his game every day, and if BVB’s defense continue to allow such a high volume of shots, it’s only a matter of time before they start going in.