Borussia Dortmund returned to the Bundesliga in emphatic fashion with a whopping 4-0 victory against Schalke, Dortmund’s bitter rivals from down the road in Gelsenkirchen. Many BVB players were in top form, but there are a few players we feel especially deserve recognition. These are our match awards for the Revierderby:
The “Emmanuel Macron Award for Holding the Center”: Thomas Delaney and Mahmoud Dahoud
When the news broke last week that Borussia Dortmund would have to play the Revierderby without core midfielders Emre Can and Axel Witsel, BVB fans everywhere collectively groaned to the heavens. Instead of one of the most dynamic midfield pairs in all of Europe, Dortmund would be forced to field a midfield of Thomas Delaney and Mahmoud Dahoud. Both have spent most of the season on the sidelines, whether because of injuries or because of superior alternatives like Witsel and Can, but were suddenly called upon to start in Dortmund’s midfield in a pivotal showdown against Schalke. While neither player was much of a bright shot offensively, both players contributed to a stellar defensive performance, limiting Schalke to a handful of speculative shots from long range. As Schalke’s heat map shows, the Smurfs could only muster an occasional foray into dangerous areas through the center of the pitch.
The “Double Agent” Award: Markus Schubert
Every once in a while, the clubs jostling for the Bundesliga title will lend one another a helping hand, to keep the title race close and the spirit of competition fresh. In this case, Bayern chose to help BVB by signing Schalke keeper Alexander Nübel on a free transfer. While this transfer may appear on the surface to be another example of subversive and destructive Bayern transfer activity degrading a potential rival, in reality, it forced Schalke to bench Nübel in favor of Markus Schubert, who promptly played like a D-III NCAA backup, directly gifting BVB one goal with a sloppy, Adrian-esque turnover, and basically doing nothing to stop any other BVB attempt on goal during the match.
The “Mastermind” Award: Julian Brandt
To call Brandt’s performance yesterday MOTM worthy would undersell just how massive he was. He played a part in every goal against Schalke; from the flick to free Hazard on Haaland’s goal, to the direct assists on goals from Rapha and Hazard, to the long pass for Rapha that led to our little Portuguese stud’s second goal. While he only completed 46 of 63 passes, many of those passes were important passes and under big pressure.
Adam Darowski, who was on the most recent FTW Podcast, has been tallying secondary assists this season for Dortmund players. According to Darowski, Brandt is responsible for 17 total assists in league play, with five traditional assists and 12 (!) secondary assists. Across all competitions, he’s got 10 regular assists and 14 hockey assists.
Aside from Haaland and maybe Hummels, Brandt might be the signing of the season for Dortmund with how well he has stepped into the XI for BVB and how important he’s been without necessarily putting up big stats.
The “Best Schalke 0-4 Joke” Award: Lukas Podolski
Once the score hit 4-0 in favor of Borussia Dortmund, the internet was bombarded by club legends, pundits, and eventually BVB players themselves, who all joined together to mock the fact that Schalke’s name resembled the final scoreline. It was truly an example of what humanity can achieve when we all unite as one. In this case, it was BVB legend Lukas Podolski whose version got the most likes on Twitter, so he gets the award. It’s always good to see a club legend show up to roast Schalke.
The “Deli at a Rest Stop in Delaware” Award for Mediocre Subs: Lucien Favre
One of the most frustrating things about Lucien Favre is that he seems completely unwilling to use subs under virtually any circumstance. Even with the new Bundesliga rules, which allow coaches to use five subs instead of three, Favre only used four, and waited until the 87th minute to use two of them. If there ends up being a compressed schedule during the summer, BVB will need to practice as much rotation as possible, so not using all five subs just seems wasteful.