Borussia Dortmund just can’t get out of their own way. A new manager, a renewed sense of hope, and the opportunity to build a little momentum, but some poor marking at corners, on two separate occasions, resulted in a BVB loss and the club sliding down to 4th in the table. The game was filled with individual errors, especially in possession, and while it wasn’t nearly as bad as the shellacking BVB received from Stuttgart, it was very frustrating to watch. Here’s what I thought of the individual performances:
Burki has conceded a lot of goals recently, but I have a hard time pinning that much blame on him. I don’t think he was to blame for either goal yesterday. That said, his distribution wasn’t great, which didn’t help BVB’s situation.
Burki rarely has a howler these days, but he doesn’t seem to pull off huge saves or keep Dortmund in the game that often either. His Post-Shot Expected Goals (PSxG) currently totals -4.3, meaning he has conceded more than 4 goals more than xG models would expect. However, it doesn’t seem to be the result of a terrible performance in any one game this season, it is just slight underperformances over the course of the whole season. It’s possible that this is bad luck, and we see things swing back in his favor in the second half of the season. If not? I think it raises some questions about Burki’s role at the club.
Some sloppy passing, and was a part of the mix up for the second goal (though it appeared to be Can’s mistake more than his). Not a great game for Akanji.
Let his man go on the first goal, and was unable to stop him knocking it on to Awoniyi to score. Had a couple sloppy passes in the game too, which didn’t help his case either.
I think there are probably three or four players in the discussion for BVB’s player of the season so far: Haaland, Guerreiro, Reyna, and Akanji. Of those, the injury probably discounts Haaland, while Reyna has been brilliant in flashes, but the inconsistency hurts his chances. That leaves Guerreiro and Akanji, and I think they deserve to be the top two so far. However, Akanji has faltered a little in the last couple games, while Guerreiro has maintained his level throughout. This is a very wordy way of saying that Guerreiro is BVB’s best player at the moment.
He made the most ball recoveries (21), and the most tackles + interceptions (8), while also contributing the most passes into the final third (13), all for a completion rate of 95.1%. However, while his numbers look good, it felt like he was unable to have the kind of impact on the game that we have come to expect. He was safe in possession, which is no small thing considering some of the other performances around him, but he felt like a passenger at times.
Lost his man on the second goal, and lacked the dynamism and progression in the middle of the park that Dortmund so desperately needed. I think Dahoud or Bellingham should have taken his place.
A lot has been made of Sancho’s poor run of form, but I don’t think things are as bad as they look. He is getting in decent positions, getting shots on goal, and he just needs one or two to go in to get him going again.
He is starting to look like a player low on confidence though. He is overdoing things in possession, and he has started “playing it safe” when shooting in good positions, instead of trying to hit the corners. That’s the sign of a player that is losing belief in himself. While I think his performance are better than the end-product suggests, he needs to get out of his own head, otherwise that could change.
Takes most of the blame for the first goal. Reyna let his runner go, only for them to get on the end of a ball knocked-on from the near post and score Union’s opener. To compound things, he didn’t do enough offensively to make up for his lapse defensively. Unfortunately, this is just part of the development process for a kid his age. He’s gonna make mistakes and have rough games. But these are the games he will learn from, and hopefully come back better.
The goal was fantastic, but it was the quality he displayed throughout the game that impressed me most. He has consistently got himself in good positions since making the step up to the senior level, and he is averaging a whopping 4.34 shots/90 (which ranks 1st for BVB, above Haaland’s 4.01) and 0.68 xG/90. He needs to get more of those shots on target (he is managing 1.45 SoT/90 vs Haaland’s 1.8), but getting in those positions so often is a very good sign. With time he will adjust to the speed of the game and him and his teammates will be able to get on the same page. I think we’ll start to see a few more goals at that point.
Beyond his finishing, I also think Moukoko offered a lot in terms of offensive spacing and giving the offense a focal point to build from. He also contributed 7 shot-creating actions, which is very impressive. I’ve been a big advocate of not expecting too much of the young prodigy, and giving him time to grow and develop, but the signs are very promising.
I have a hard time deciding whether I’m being unfair on the team here. Several of the individual ratings are a little harsh, and I think you could make a case that I’m grading based on the outcome rather than the performance. But at the same time, there wasn’t much about this performance that made me feel generous. Dortmund were the better team according to xG, and the reality is that individual errors led to both Union Berlin goals. But it was a game filled with dumb errors by Borussia players, that allowed Union far too much room to play. Union are a good team, and sometimes good teams will beat teams that are (or should be) a little better than them, but it was the nature of the performance that was frustrating, more than anything.