Dortmund have had trouble in the midfield for a couple of seasons. After selling Gundogan it has felt like we only have one starting quality midfielder at a time. This year things got a lot worse for Dortmund. There was not a single midfielder Dortmund could rely on all year. The rotation constantly changed in the midfield, with neither manager really ever finding a pair that worked. It didn’t help that Dortmund’s back line also was inept and also struggled with Striker/winger injuries.
In the case of our attacking midfielders, injuries also got the best of us. Gotze and Kagawa both spent time inured, and while both had great seasons, the team always looked off without one or the other. There is also the case of Castro AM, AKA the worst thing to ever happen.
To make things simple, we’ll throw guys like Reus and Pulisic into the winger section of our review and not midfield.
I could just make this section easy and write “everything” and be done with it, but that would be too easy. Lets look at the most important issues with the midfield.
Under Tuchel, Julian Weigl was BVB’s most important player. A central midfielder that would regularly make 100+ passes in a game with a >90% completion rate is insane. Even thought BVB has been leaky in past seasons, Weigl’s reliability saved us many goals, and set up quite a few as well.
Under the Peters, Weigl completely disappeared. Even when he wasn’t hurt he did not look himself. His pass completion rate dipped and some games he barley got on the ball, let alone made any important passes. Pinpointing why Weigl took this turn for the worse is harder. It may just be that Tuchel knew how to get him playing well, or that the Peters didn’t know how to use him. It could be that his bad form to start the year sapped him of his confidence and he was never able to get back into a good mental state. Whatever it is, hopefully Weigl returns to form, or BVB could be in real trouble next year as well.
Castro and Sahin
Most BVB fans probably have at least one shared experience: The complete sense of dread that sets in when Castro or Sahin are in the lineup. Both of these players were net negatives for Dortmund this year with almost no redeeming games or moments.
Castro was good at BVB his first season with us. Since his second season with BVB, he has been plain awful. Castro regularly looks out of place on the pitch for BVB. He messes up passes, lets himself get pressured off the ball, and cannot cross or shoot well. Its hard to see a positive scenario next year for Castro at BVB. The most frustrating thing about Castro is Tuchel and the Peters all seemed to love playing him. Even when we didn’t have injury issues he often featured for all three managers. With his form as bad as it is, I cannot imagine what quality he has that three separate managers find him a good choice.
Sahin has dealt with injury issues for years with BVB. This year he started off healthy and actually played great in his first 5 games with the club. After that however, he was a non-factor. While he wasn’t as much as a liability as Castro, he still did not bring much to the team during our fall slide.
Hopefully BVB replaces both of these players with more adequate depth, or Farve maybe can pull of a miracle and help them return to better form.
While this season had lots of disappointing players in the midfield, there were some bight spots.
Dahoud had an up and down season. He did not get to play too often, and when he did get to play sometimes he was absent from the action. Of course, this can be said about every player this year. When Dahoud was playing well he looked like exactly what we needed, a perfect pivot midfielder. With Weigl transfer rumors always abound and his weak form, having another game controlling pivot is exactly what BVB need. In Dahoud we get a young player who can control games. In addition to being Weigl 2.0, Dahoud also has something Julian does not, a strong shot. While his outside the box soiree’s could get annoying, there is no denying that Dahoud could become an all around midfielder with some work. Instead of Weigl 2.0 we could get Gundogan 2.0.
Shinji has been great for Dortmund since his return from Manchester United. This year was no exception. While Dortmund's players continually struggled, #ShinjiSubs always gave the team some energy. Kagawa was one of the only players who looked better offensively under Stoger. With his limited match time this year he was still able to score 5 goals and make 3 assists. Its not a hot take to consider that if he wasn’t hurt to end the year, Dortmund would not have been in the super close situation they found themselves in for UCL. Shinji is now 29 years old, peak age for a footballer, hopefully he can bounce back from his injury and help the new Farve led Dortmund in a successful three competition season.
I’ll admit, ever since Gotze went to Bayern I’ve been a Gotze hater. When he came back to BVB I was skeptical we should take someone who couldn’t make it at our rivals. His constant injuries made it seem like he was washed. Well little did we know his poor form over the years was due to a metabolic disorder that he had treated last season. This year he was ready and had his unknown disorder in check and as it turns out that was all that was holding him back. I don’t agree with most pundits that he was one of BVB’s 2 best players this year, but he was really good. While only notching 2 goals and 4 assists, Gotze was a master at setting up plays. If hockey assists were counted in this league, Gotze would be one of the leaders. Under Farve he should shine. With Shinji as our resident super sub anyways, Gotze low energy will never become too much of a problem for BVB.
100% our best player this year.JK
What are your thoughts on the midfield play this year for BVB?