Peter Bosz, what a guy! A couple weeks after defeating Bayern Munich to expand Dortmund’s lead in the Bundesliga, Bosz’s Leverkusen sauntered into the Westfalenstadion and snatched defeat from the jaws of victoryhand. In a performance that could only be described as Leverkusen-y, the Werkself were the better team for most of the game. Luckily, finishing and bursts of good football at the right moments propelled Dortmund to victory.
Here are our match ratings:
Lucien Favre: 6
Hamstrung by injuries and facing a high-quality Leverkusen squad at full health, Lucien Favre was in a very tough situation yesterday. He took a gamble by playing a midfield pairing of Julian Weigl and Axel Witsel, a combination that looked pretty poor against Bayern Munich. While Leverkusen controlled a lot of the play during the first half, the Weigl-Witsel duo actually did a good job of shielding BVB’s back line, with most of Leverkusen’s best chances coming from set pieces instead of open play.
Tactically, BVB sat back, absorbing pressure from Leverkusen while trying to hit back on the counter. This meant that Leverkusen controlled much of the possession. When Dortmund did regain control of the ball, they had trouble playing out the back. Leverkusen did a good job pushing the ball to the touch line by keeping Witsel and Weigl marked and pinching to either side of the pitch.
Despite being hemmed in most of the match, BVB created two of their three goals from some brilliant ball movement through midfield, showing that while Dortmund struggled to beat Leverkusen’s press, when they did, it meant that Leverkusen were opened up dramatically.
Roman Bürki: 8
While Bürki should have done better on Leverkusen’s first goal, he made up for his mistake with two big saves on Lucas Allario and Leon Bailey in the second half.
Abdou Diallo: 6
While Diallo was pretty decent off the ball with 5 tackles, 2 interceptions, and 4 clearances, he was also a turnover machine on the ball. As I mentioned above, Leverkusen did a job squeezing the ball out of the center and towards the touchline, before picking it off of Diallo and Hakimi. Diallo’s pass accuracy rate was 65%.
He did assist Sancho’s goal with a pretty nice cross, though.
Dan-Axel Zagadou: 7
After lots of near-misses from corners throughout the season, Zagadou finally opened his goalscoring account with BVB. While it was nice to see him get a goal, he was still a bit shaky at the back end, with a couple awkward clearances and giveaways.
Manuel Akanji: 7
Akanji finally returned from his months-long injury, and it looked as if he had never left. He was Dortmund’s best defender.
Achraf Hakimi: 5
Much like Diallo, Hakimi had a tough time playing around Leverkusen’s press. It’s hard to blame him for being unable to play around three players, though, which is why I haven’t given him anything lower than a five.
Axel Witsel: 6
Bayer Leverkusen did a good job keeping Witsel isolated and off the ball, so it was hard for him to control the tempo of the game as well as he has throughout the season.
Julian Weigl: 6
Just like Witsel, Weigl was kept off the ball for most of the match. He did help in the buildup for BVB’s two open-play goals, but they were two of only a few examples of Weigl helping to move the ball forward.
Mario Götze: 8
Is Götze officially back? I think he is. Perhaps other than Jadon Sancho, Götze was Dortmund’s most effective and dynamic forward. If BVB did move the play forward, it was because Götze dropped back to provide a passing outlet along the flanks. His goal was ultimately the winning one.
Jadon Sancho: 8
His volleyed goal was a thing of beauty, and he also picked up an assist on his corner delivery in the 29th minute.
Raphael Guerreiro: 6
Guerreiro was uncharacteristically quiet yesterday, failing to create any good scoring opportunities.
Paco Alcacer: 6
While Paco did get a couple scoring opportunities, including one would-have-been goal that was called offside, he again failed to find the back of the net. He did drop back a couple times, and almost created a goal for Jacob Bruun Larsen, but ultimately went goalless. He’s officially in a slump.
Jacob Bruun Larsen: 5
JBL announced his substitution by skying the aforementioned chance created by Paco Alcacer, his only real contribution to the match.
Mahmoud Dahoud: N/A
Dahoud only saw 5 minutes of match time.
Marius Wolf: N/A
Wolf had exactly four touches in his one minute of match time.