(Update: Paul’s comments added)
When the results of Fear the Wall’s 2019 fan survey came in, there was one particular area of consensus among the FTW readership: you guys wanted us to bring back match ratings. We were a bit apprehensive of this, because none of us really like them. They’re boring and monotonous to write, and the discussions they ignite tend to be pedantic in nature (i.e. bickering over whether one player is a 6.5 or a 7). That being said, Fear the Wall is a blog of the people. If the people demand match ratings, it is our duty to provide them.
Anyway, that’s enough administrative talk, let’s discuss football. Borussia Dortmund started off the second half in the Bundesliga in... interesting style, if you could call it that. With BVB looking dreadful for the first 55 minutes or so, and falling behind 3-1 in the process, Lucien Favre subbed on Erling Håland, a move which paid almost immediate dividends. BVB went on to score four unanswered goals in a thrilling if unconvincing 5-3 victory.
I’ve also asked some of the other FTW writers to pitch in their thoughts. Here are our match ratings for BVB’s performance:
Sean:Augsburg’s first and third goals were tap-ins that Bürki could do nothing to stop. The second goal, a long shot from outside the box by Marco Richter, was well struck and aimed right into the top corner. Bürki might have had a shot at it, but it would have been a very difficult save to make.
Nick: I don’t exactly recall any goals that Roman should’ve stopped or done better on. His distribution was fine, nothing extraordinary.
Sean: At this point it’s trendy to blame anything and everything bad that happens to Borussia Dortmund on Manuel Akanji. Every goal is his fault, even if he wasn’t involved at all. Every misplaced pass is the worst thing to happen to a football club ever. I don’t think he was great, and he did have a few unforced errors, but he wasn’t responsible for any of Augsburg’s goal. It was hardly the horror show that BVB fans have been labelling it.
Nick: What happened, man? Where was the reliable defender on the rise . I do put some blame on him for the second goal as it was his poor headed clearance dropped right to Marco Richter, but it was more a failed collective effort from the defense. Once the team switched to a back-four, he looked somewhat more comfortable with the ball and in defense.
Sean: Mats Hummels had the strongest performance of all of Borussia Dortmund’s defenders. Unfortunately, this wasn’t a very high standard. He failed to cover the near post on Augsburg’s first goal, which gave Florian Niederlechner an unchallenged tap-in off a low cross. Other than this mistake, he was BVB’s most solid defender once again, and of course, his lobbed pass to Jadon Sancho to set up the Englishman’s goal was world class.
Nick: Of the three central defenders, he played the least bad. Given the scoreline, though, that’s not saying much. He should’ve done a better job of covering the near post on the first goal. He did set up Jadon Sancho with a great longball, so that helped his rating for me.
Sean: During the final weeks of the Hinrunde, it seemed abundantly clear that Lukasz Piszczek’s time as a starting full back for BVB is offer, and that if he’s going to be successful with BVB he’s going to need to play at right center back for the remainder of the season. Unfortunately, Piszczek wasn’t very good in this role either. Augsburg ran roughshod over Piszczek, who looked behind the pace from beginning to end. Piszczek was eventually subbed off in the 55th minute.
Nick: Yikes on yikes on yikes. Piszczek definitely showed his age when he got beat by Vargas down the right side of the field. Had it not been for Zagadou’s injury, I doubt he would’ve seen the field aside from possibly a late substitution. He was rightfully subbed off in the 55th minute.
Sean: I think that Guerreiro had a quietly but solid performance at left wing back. For all of Augsburg’s positive play against Dortmund’s right side, BVB kept the left side on lock down. His defensive stats (two tackles, three interceptions) were good, and he contributed positively to the buildup with an xGBuildup of 1.27.
Nick: I can’t really recall anything special from Guerreiro throughout the day, which can be a good thing or a bad thing. I didn’t see many attacks coming down that left side, so that has to count for something.
Sean: This was a far from perfect performance from Axel Witsel. Augsburg did a good job having multiple players marking him whenever he was on the ball, especially during the first half. He did have some positive moments. In the 28th minute, he hit Marco Reus with a perfect pass right at the top of the six-yard box. Unfortunately, Reus laced the ball over the crossbar. It should have been an assist, but Reus’s touch let Witsel down.
Nick: Same old, same old from Axel. Despite drawing multiple defenders throughout the game, he was still able to distribute the ball effectively and control the middle of the pitch. He had a great opportunity for an assist early in the match with an excellent pass to Reus that he fumbled. It’s nice to see that Witsel hasn’t missed a beat after coming back from his facial injury.
Sean: Even though Hakimi was one of BVB’s best players during the first half of the season, Hakimi struggled immensely yesterday. Augsburg were overloading BVB’s right side. Despite several efforts to dribble the ball out of pressure, Hakimi couldn’t run it out of pressure.
Nick: Like Witsel, Hakimi’s early-season success has forced teams to gameplan for him and find ways to shut him down. But unlike Witsel, Hakimi wasn’t able to have much of an influence on the game offensively or defensively.
Sean: Thorgan Hazard notched another two assists tonight, bringing him to nine assists in the Bundesliga. He unselfishly provided a tap-in to Erling Håland when he easily could have finished the chance himself, and also assisted Julian Brandt’s highlight-reel goal.
Paul: Hazard was pretty good, but I think he falls just short of an 8 because of his role in Augsburg’s first goal, and the problems Vargas gave him all game long. His pass to no one fed Vargas to set up Augsburg’s opener, and that really set the tone for the 60 minutes of the game. He made up for his mistake in the second half, when he was really growing into the game. If Favre hadn’t chosen to substitute him (which struck me as a bad call), he may have played his way into an 8 in my books.
Nick: Thorgan was outstanding. He was smart with his passing and runs, and he was great in keeping that left side locked down with Guerreiro. His effort in the third goal to collect the Witsel longball, evade the goalkeeper, and lay it off for Håland was unselfish and a great team play.
Sean: Julian Brandt could’ve taken a nap for 85 minutes, and I still would’ve given him at least a 6 for that goal. His ability to dribble in tight spaces and get off shots is unbelievable.
Nick: Were it not for Håland’s hat-trick, I think Brandt would’ve been my MOTM. He was good in distribution and in ball possession, and his individual goal was sublime. Time and time again he’s shown to be the best summer signing and he could be a long-term cog in the Dortmund midfield.
Sean: If Sancho had finished his chance in the 27th minute, I might have given him a 10. He was that good. He’s now one assist behind Thomas Müller for the league lead. I really hope he decides to stay at Dortmund for one more year, because every moment we get to watch him is a pleasure.
Paul: If it wasn’t for the explosive nature of Håland’s second half performance, Sancho would have been my man of the match. He was lackluster in the first half, but he came to life in the second, and was really pulling the strings. I’m looking forward to watching him team up with Håland.
Nick: Sancho was Sancho, I don’t know what else there is to say. He had moves for days, and his passing was great. His control of Hummels’ longball and the finish for the second goal was excellent, and his assist for Håland was well-timed and well-weighted to allow him to get to it. He’s not the best Englishman in Germany for nothing.
Sean: I understand the temptation to give Marco a poor rating for his lack of finishing, but I’m more of the opinion that as long as he’s creating chances, they’re bound to start going in sooner or later. He also assisted Håland’s third goal, which must be worth something.
Paul: I thought Reus did well to get into some good scoring positions, and was the liveliest of any of the forwards in the first half. He even managed to pick up a nice assist in the second half onslaught. But his finishing was so poor, and that outweighed the things he did well. Sometimes it’s just not your day.
Nick: Another poor performance from Marco. He had multiple opportunities to put the ball away but he just couldn’t do it. He also didn’t have much influence in chance creation. Maybe that’s due to being played out of position again, maybe it’s a sign of something worse. He did have a nice assist for Håland at the end so it salvaged a day to forget for Marco.
Sean: I understand the hype, but let’s not got overly-excited. He’s young, unproven, and...
Wait, he got a hat trick? In 23 minutes?
In that case yeah, I think we found our striker.
Nick: I mean, what needs to be said? The second he came on the field and took his first shot, the momentum completely changed. His runs were excellent, he was good and confident with the ball at his feet, and he already looks competely in-sync with the rest of the team. He needs to be a locked-in starter from this point forward, no questions asked.
Sean: He definitely earned some further looks. Even though he’s only 17, he looked right at home among the more senior members of the Bundesliga, controlling play in midfield while demonstrating the maturity of a seasoned veteran.
Nick: Big ups for Gio for putting in the hard work to make the field and become the youngest American to play in a Bundesliga match. Despite being 17, he didn’t look that much out of place. He was key in the fifth goal as he cut out the cross-field pass and hit Reus for the secondary assist.
Sean: He played for three minutes and didn’t even get a hat trick. SMH.
Nick: Didn’t see enough of him to garner an opinion on his performance.
How would you rate BVB’s performance? Leave your thoughts below.