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Match Ratings: Eintracht Braunschweig 0-2 Borussia Dortmund

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Some promising performances give us something to smile about despite a relatively drab affair

Eintracht Braunschweig v Borussia Dortmund - DFB Cup: Second Round Photo by Oliver Hardt/Getty Images

The magic of the cup. I’m not sure what the German equivalent is (if you have an answer, let us know in the comments), but the “magic of the cup” is a common cliche that refers to the uncanny ability of lower-league teams that are woefully mismatched to spring the upset and scalp a football giant, or at the very least a team several divisions above them.

There’s always one or two upsets every season, and sometimes those upsets come on the biggest stage and end up becoming one of the greatest moments in a team’s history. That is why cup competitions are still a cause for real excitement for fans of teams outside the top flight.

The magic of the cup doesn’t fill you with excitement when you’re the heavyweight being felled though. Borussia Dortmund risk playing that role every season in the DFB Pokal, and a game against Eintracht Braunschweig certainly posed a threat to a BVB side that has been on a poor run of form lately. Thankfully, Borussia came out of the game relatively unscathed, and went through to the next round having won 2-0. It wasn’t especially pretty, but it was a victory in the kind of game that can trip a team like BVB up. Here’s how we rated the individual performances from yesterday’s game:

Starters

Marwin Hitz

Paul: 5

Sean: 5

Eintracht Braunschweig only mustered one shot on target. It was a decent chance, with Braunschweig striker Marcel Bär pouncing on the end of a cross, and forcing a strong save from Hitz. Other than that, Hitz didn’t have much to do.

Mats Hummels

Paul: 7

Big Mats is raining goals.

Sean: 7

Hummels now has four goals in all competitions, which is amazingly 2nd on the team, second only to Erling Haaland. It’s pretty frustrating that despite all of the attacking talent on our team, with players like Marco Reus, Julian Brandt, and Jadon Sancho, that Hummels so often has to do the heavy lifting offensively.

Defensively, he was solid, especially because Eintracht Braunschweig didn’t push very hard.

Dan-Axel Zagadou

Paul: 6

Sean: 6

Zagadou is still fresh off a months-long injury, so maybe it’s for the best that one of his first appearances back was against such a weak side. He looked a little rusty during the first half and had a few sloppy turnovers, but luckily never surrendered a goal. He ended up winning 5 of his 7 duels, and seemed more solid defensively in the second half.

Mateu Morey

Paul: 7

Sean: 6

Rapha Guerreiro

Paul: 6

Sean: 5

I thought Rapha was particularly sloppy last night. He was dispossessed the most out of the entire squad, and also had a quiet night going forward, with a single shot off target.

Thomas Delaney

Paul: 6

I’m probably not giving Delaney as much credit as he deserves, but I’m willing to acknowledge that he is a bit of a blind spot for me.

Sean: 7

Delaney mercifully filled in for Emre Can and Axel Witsel yesterday, who have both been run into the ground this season. In that sense, he did exactly what was needed of him: go on the pitch and “be a guy”, so to speak. He managed to do that, and more. It was a typically feisty performance from Delaney. He led the squad with three tackles and won 7 of his 9 duels.

Jude Bellingham

Paul: 7

Sean: 7

Sometimes, I sense that Jude feels like he’s got the weight of the world on his shoulders. He has an unbelievable work rate, and he seems to leave everything on the pitch every day. He was no different yesterday. He almost scored a Golazo in the first half. After juggling the ball a few times, he volleyed a wicked shot from inside the box that unfortunately glanced off the wrong side of the upright.

Eintracht Braunschweig v Borussia Dortmund - DFB Cup: Second Round Photo by Mario Hommes/DeFodi Images via Getty Images

Julian Brandt

Paul: 5

Sean: 5

I have mixed feelings on Julian Brandt. While he did get himself into some great positions, and managed to get off a shot that curled just wide of the upright, he also missed an absolute sitter that was the result of some hard pressing by Steggen Tigges. Brandt has had a horrible 2020, and it ended on another downer with that miss.

Gio Reyna

Paul: 6

Sean: 6

Jadon Sancho

Paul: 8

Sancho has struggled so far this season, and while I am not entirely convinced that the problems are that bad, it’s certainly good to see him playing well and getting on the scoresheet. If anyone needed (and deserved) a confidence boost, it was him.

Sean: 8

You have to give it up for Sancho. As poorly as the first half of his season has gone, he’s never once complained or stopped working hard. He put in a hell of an effort yesterday, so it was good to see him rewarded with a goal. He could clearly be seen whispering “f—k me” after his goal, an obvious indication of the relief he felt, and how frustrated he was going weeks without a goal. He also had six key passes, three more than the next most prolific player.

Steffen Tigges

Paul: 8

BVB’s oldest striker did pretty well yesterday, for his first game with the first team. He put himself about, and got into some useful positions. His presence alone opened up space for players around him, and he was unlucky not to come away with something to show for it. It is definitely possible Tigges played his way into the first team rotation.

Sean: 8

Bulgarian Woman Saves Stray Cats Photo by Hristo Rusev/Getty Images

Substitutes

Manuel Akanji

Paul: 6

Sean: 6

Marco Reus

Paul: 7

Sean: 7

Came onto the pitch and provided an assist to Jadon Sancho off a beautiful curled through ball.

Axel Witsel

N/A

Thomas Meunier

N/A

Thorgan Hazard

N/A

The Hazard injury really put a dampener on things. Coming off the bench for the final minutes of the game, only to have to leave the pitch not long after, having picked up another thigh injury, is definitely concerning.

Overall

Paul: 6

It wasn’t the most exciting game of the season, and the performance was nothing to shout about, but it felt like Borussia came away from the game with some pretty important positives. Jadon Sancho looked good, Zagadou played 90 minutes, and Tigges demonstrated that he could be an option in the rotation for the rest of the season. Hazard’s injury is a real shame, but I’ll stick to the positives here. Dortmund are still on course for a historic treble.