A few days after narrowly defeating Club Brugge in the Champions League Borussia Dortmund played TSG Hoffenheim to a similarly frustrating 1-1 draw. All things considered, the result was generous towards Dortmund. For most of the match, Hoffenheim were the dominant side, which was a result of many sub-par individual performances. Here are our match ratings:
Lucien Favre: 4
Although BVB did come out of the gate strong by consistently breaching Hoffenheim’s final third, they failed to break down Hoffenheim’s compact defense. This allowed Hoffenheim to gradually come into the game, generating most of their chances on the counter attack. BVB struggled to break down Hoffenheim’s press, especially along the wings, where Hoffenheim took advantage of Dortmund’s full backs.
Favre’s squad selection was mostly fine. Paco Alcacer was out with a thigh injury, so Favre had no good options at the center forward position. He could also have started Achraf Hakimi over Lukasz Piszczek, who struggled again on defense. If he had done this, he also wouldn’t have needed Marius Wolf to track back as much.
Roman Bürki: 7
Bürki was probably the player most responsible for keeping Dortmund in the match until Pulisic’s goal. He beat Leonardo Bittencourt on a 1-on-1 in the 17th minute, and continued to provide good distribution.
Marcel Schmelzer: 5
It was another mediocre performance from Schmelzer, who again looked like he was constantly sprinting just to get back into position, and he had a rough time trying to deal with Bittencourt and Belfodil, when he came on. His service was somewhat better. He did play Reus into the box on the game-tying goal, which must count for something.
Abdou Diallo: 4
Yesterday was an uncharacteristically poor performance from Diallo. His red card was total nonsense, so I’m not going to hold that against him. The problem was, the rest of his performance wasn’t much better. His botched clearance that led to Hoffenheim’s goal was unacceptable, and he had a hard time controlling Hoffenheim’s striker pairing.
Manuel Akanji: 6
Akanji was a bit better than his center back partner, but still not excellent. Hoffenheim’s two strikers, Andrej Kramaric and Joe Linton, posing a lot of problems for both central defenders, restricting their time and space on the ball. Akanji was a bit better than his partner, but still shaky.
Lukasz Piszczek: 6
Lukasz had a lot of problems dealing with Nico Schultz, who was very prolific along Hoffenheim’s left side. Given Dortmund’s hectic schedule coming up, it might be worth it for for Favre to rotate in Hakimi or Toljan.
Axel Witsel: 5
This was probably Witsel’s weakest performance in a Dortmund uniform. Most of his distribution was inconsequential. Both Witsel and Dahoud struggled to break down Hoffenheim’s counterattacks, repeatedly allowing them to put pressure on Dortmund’s back line.
Mahmoud Dahoud: 5
Dahoud struggled again. While he looked decent when Dortmund had the ball in the final third, his box-to-box play was poor. Favre recognized that Dortmund were lacking physicality, so he brought Dahoud off for Delaney, who was a slight improvement in this regard.
Shinji Kagawa: 5
After a decent substitute performance against Club Brugge, Shinji’s play against Hoffenheim was substandard. He had no dribbles, no key passes, and was dispossessed twice. His most significant contribution to the game was when he botched a clear sitter from Christian Pulisic. He came off for Max Philipp in the 69th minute.
Christian Pulisic: 9
The young American showed yet again why he’s worth the hype. Every time Dortmund generated something positive, Pulisic was involved in one way or another. Have a look at these:
Kagawa wastes this great run and delivery by Pulisic. pic.twitter.com/3oAjg4ubfl— Billy M (@Wideoverload) September 22, 2018
Pulisic definitely drew a penalty here. No call. pic.twitter.com/tcOLAsgQ3a— Arthur Kogan (@TheRealArturK) September 22, 2018
christian— Arthur Kogan (@TheRealArturK) September 22, 2018
Christian Pulisic, who was Dortmund's best player today, scores the equalizer for 10-man BVB to rescue a point at Hoffenheim pic.twitter.com/qX3lxMVQFW— Grant Wahl (@GrantWahl) September 22, 2018
Marius Wolf: 5
Wolf struggled to get involved offensively during his shift. He hasn’t yet found his game with Borussia Dortmund. He was clearly frustrated after he came off, slapping the side of the bench in exasperation.
Marco Reus: 6
He didn’t do much as a center forward. When Philipp came on, though, he dropped deeper and became much more involved, using his skill on the ball to get into dangerous spaces. His assist on Pulisic’s goal (see above) was a product of sheer strength, skill, and determination.
Jadon Sancho: 5
The young Englishman came on for 29 minutes, and didn’t contribute much. If he wants a consistent spot in the starting XI, he needs to create more chances on a consistent basis.
Max Philipp: 6
Philipp took over for Marco Reus at the center forward position. His performance in this role wasn’t great, but it did allow Reus to drop deeper.
Thomas Delaney: 7
Delaney came on to bolster Dortmund’s physicality in midfield. For the most part, he accomplished this. The Dane will probably see a good amount of playing time against squads like Hoffenheim, which have the pace and talent to cut through midfield quickly.
Do you agree with my ratings? Leave your thoughts below.