Borussia Dortmund collected their second win of the season yesterday, with a hard-fought 3-1 victory over Eintracht Frankfurt. It was as frustrating as a 3-1 victory can be. They struggled to create chances for much of the first half, and only managed to seal their victory in the final 20 minutes, with goals from Marius Wolf and Paco Alcacer. Here are our ratings for each player:
Lucien Favre: 6
His starting XI was pretty suspect. I’m not sure why he started Witsel on the bench. He was the only midfielder that looked positive against Hannover, whereas Dahoud and Delaney struggled. Wolf’s performance was against Hannover was, in my opinion, poor enough to get him benched. While this decision ended up paying off when Wolf scored the winning goal, he looked lost for the first 70 minutes.
To Favre’s credit, he got the subs largely right. Bringing on Sancho and Paco completely changed the complexion in Dortmund’s attack, and Witsel added much needed creativity to Dortmund’s midfield. In the end, it was enough to secure the three points.
Roman Bürki: 7
Roman looked unusually calm and collected in goal, dealing with crosses and through balls decisively. He did make several nice saves, although he could have done better on Frankfurt’s one goal.
Marcel Schmelzer: 6
Given his poor form to start the season, this was far from Schmelzer’s worst performance. He made a few successful tackles and his positioning was mostly adequate. His deflection that allowed Haller’s goal was unfortunate, and Diallo did him no favors by blasting the ball into his legs, but other than that he was mostly mistake-free.
Abdou Diallo: 7
He scored Dortmund’s first goal, which is always nice from a centerback. His failed clearance led to Haller’s goal, but outside of that he was solid. Ironically, because he whiffed on his first two shots before burying his third attempt, he actually leads the entire Bundesliga in expected goals.
Manuel Akanji: 8
The young Swiss CB was almost flawless defensively. He used his strength and large frame to keep Frankfurt’s forwards out of dangerous areas. There was nothing he could have done on Frankfurt’s goal.
Lukasz Piszczek: 6
Like Schmelzer, Lukasz was less shaky than usual. It helped that Marius Wolf was tracking back to shield him. He held down Dortmund’s right side and provided some valuable contributions going forward. It was his initial pass to Paco Alcacer that led to Wolf’s match-winning goal.
Mahmoud Dahoud: 6
With neither Witsel nor Weigl in the starting XI, Dahoud was forced to drop much deeper than usual, frequently slotting into the number 6 role with Thomas Delaney. This was a lot deeper than Dahoud has become used to playing, and thus he was frequently cut out of attacking play until Witsel came onto the pitch. This was reflected by his unusually high pass count, and correspondingly low xGChain (0.13) and xGBuildup (0.10).
Thomas Delaney: 5
Delaney didn’t contribute much during his 69 minutes on the pitch. It’s pretty clear from the past couple weeks that a midfield pairing of Delaney and Dahoud is not ideal. Once Witsel came on for Delaney, BVB were much more creative and incisive moving forward.
Marco Reus: 5
Marco slotted into a number 10 role, trying to drift into central positions in front of Frankfurt’s back four. He had remarkably little time on the ball, and as a result has little effect on the match’s outcome. I’d prefer it if someone like Shinji were to play in his role, which would allow Reus to drift out wide to his natural position.
Jacob Bruun Larsen: 5
The young Dane’s four goals during the international break may have gotten our hopes too high. He looked nervous, frequently taking heavy touches and making poor decisions. Like many youngsters, he seemed to be trying to do too much, rather than doing the basics like making good runs and passes.
Marius Wolf: 6
His goal was well taken, which is enough to earn him a 6, but he really needs to contribute more going forward if he is to remain in the starting XI.
Maximillian Philipp: 5
Philipp again contributed nothing playing as a center forward. The difference between his linkage and Paco Alcacer’s was glaring the moment the substitution occurred. I’ve always liked his play as winger more than his play as a striker, and his performance yesterday reinforced this.
Jadon Sancho: 8
The match’s dynamic changed the moment Sancho came onto the pitch. He has an ability to go 1-on-1 against defenders that no one, maybe except for Reus, has. His ball to Wolf was a thing of beauty, and he did it immediately after destroying two defenders. It’s tough to make an argument why Sancho can’t start if Bruun-Larsen can.
Paco Alcacer: 9
The 9 may be a bit much, but it’s tough to overstate how good he looked after coming on. Every single decision he made was the right one. Nearly every single pass he made was pinpoint-accurate. His through-ball to Sancho was sublime, and his curled goal that sealed the match was immaculate, and had me watching it again and again. His play was just as good even when it didn’t lead to a goal. I think it’s safe to say that Dortmund have found themselves a center forward.
Axel Witsel: 7
Witsel came on for Delaney in the 70th minute, and immediately bolstered Dortmund’s midfield. Whatever Favre’s preferred midfield trio ends up being, I’m sure that Witsel will play a significant role.
Do you agree with my ratings? Leave your thoughts below.