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The Wallies: 2019-2020 Borussia Dortmund Season Awards

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Wrap it up, wrap it up...

FBL-GER-BUNDESLIGA-DORTMUND-HOFFENHEIM Photo by INA FASSBENDER/AFP via Getty Images

Thank you everyone for coming to the 2019-2020 Borussia Dortmund awards. We’re here to recognize all the standout performers from BVB this season, who went above and beyond the call of duty.

Defender of the Year

Sean: Mats Hummels

This should surprise no one. From the moment he returned to Borussia Dortmund, Mats Hummels has been a reliable veteran presence at the Dortmund back line. Statistically, he’s been Dortmund’s best defender by a considerable margin, sweeping every defensive metric by leading in interceptions, tackles, clearances. While he didn’t have the raw offensive statistics of Raphael Guerreiro or Achraf Hakimi, his passing and especially his long ball abilities helped launch many attacks by BVB, especially when the midfield was having an otherwise sub-par day. With Manuel Akanji struggling and Dan-Axel Zagadou nursing injuries, it’s often been up to Mats Hummels to lead the line for Borussia Dortmund, and for the most part, he’s passed every test thrown at him with flying colors.

Another defender who deserves recognition is Lukasz Piszczek. Although he’s made his career as a right back, he’s fit in quite nicely as the right-most center back for Borussia Dortmund this season. He had standout performances against PSG at home during the round of 16 and against Bayern Munich at the Westfalenstadion.

Paul: Mats Hummels, but only if we’re allowed a Wing Back of the Year award for Rapha

I think Hummels was clearly our best outright defender, but I guess it depends how you classify Guerreiro too. Given that his contributions were primarily on the offensive end, I think it would be hard to justify calling him the defender of the year, but he still deserves something.

Brett: Mats Hummels

Hummels was the most BVB’s most consistent defender across the whole of the season. Even after the formation change to a back 3, where he was asked to play in the middle of the back line, a position he was unfamiliar with, Hummels did very well.

Nick: Mats Hummels

Time and time again, Hummels was the best and most consistent Dortmund defender. Whether playing in a back four or a back three, Hummels was the best of the bunch year-round.

I’d like to note that had Rapha Guerreiro was very close to being my Defender of the Year, had he played as a wingback all season and not just during the Ruckrunde. That little Portuguese man was lights out during the Ruckrunde, and especially after the COVID pause.

Brian: Mats Hummels

I guess there are no surprises here. Hummels was incredible this season. In a year where lethargic play cost us points, Mats always tried to deliver despite the team. He was a leader on and off the field and earned himself the captain armband whenever he wore it.

Midfielder of the Year

Sean: Axel Witsel

Borussia Dortmund’s success in midfield tends to be a group effort, but if there’s any individual player that deserves recognition it’s Axel Witsel. When Witsel is on his game, BVB are close to unbeatable. His ability to pick out key passes, throw tackles, and just generally boss the midfield has proven vital again and again this season.

Paul: Emre Can

I feel a little dirty voting against Witsel here. He’s incredibly important to this side, and he had another good season (though fatigue once again seemed to hit him towards the end of the season). I think there’s a perfectly good case to make for Witsel, but I’m going to give Can my vote, as an acknowledgement of his contribution since coming in. We needed a little more fight, and Can seems to bring that. Plus he has a banger in his locker at all points.

Nick: Axel Witsel

I couldn’t in good faith vote against my favorite afroed Belgian. His pass accuracy was outstanding (94% according to WhoScored.com), but most importantly his endurance and desire to play offense and defense were immense for the team as they continued to fight for a title.

While I agree with Brett below that Can had the better Ruckrunde, I think Witsel had an overall better 2019-20 season.

Brett: Axel Witsel*

I do something similar again with the Forward of the Year later, but because we’re looking at the whole season, Witsel gets the nod.

However, Can had the better Rückrunde and gave the squad something they were sorely lacking in the first half. Grit.

Brian: Axel Witsel

Witsel was crucial to our success for most of the season. His ability to hold control of the ball and make accurate passes under pressure kept us from many embarrassing moments. He is not a assist type guy or even a hockey assist type guy but he sets up so many situations that unleash our forwards and wings on the opposing team. Hopefully Favre can figure out how to give Witsel more rest next season so we don;t deal with losing him to injury time like we did this year.

Forward of the Year

Paul: Jadon Sancho

Sean: Jadon Sancho

Sancho was one of the best players in the league this season, so this one is a no-brainer. From start to finish, Sancho was a goal machine, racking up both goals and assists at an extraordinary rate. He led the league in assists for much of the season, only to be passed towards the very end by Thomas Müller. He established himself as a world-class player, and it’s therefore no wonder that Manchester United are interested in paying such a hefty transfer fee for this young English superstar.

No other BVB player came close to Sancho’s raw production totals this year. Thorgan Hazard had a solid season, but his numbers don’t approach Sancho’s. The only player who could credibly make an argument might be Erling Håland. If he had played a full season with Dortmund, and had matched his production from the second half, he would’ve ended the season on 26 goals, which may have slid him into contention for Forward of the Year.

Brett: Jadon Sancho*

Since this award is looking at the entire season, it must go to Sancho, but I want to give some appreciation to Erling Håland for his performance in the Rückrunde.

Practically from the moment he stepped on the pitch against Augsburg in January, the Norwegian striker has been worth every bit of the fee Dortmund paid Salzburg in the winter window. As the rest of the squad put in an abysmal performance in their opening fixture of the Rückrunde, Håland hauled them onto his back, nabbed a hat trick in just over 30 minutes on the pitch, and carried them to a win.

10 more goals in the league gave him 13 on the season, in just 15 Bundesliga matches, tying him for 6th in the league’s top scorers table. He got two more against PSG in the Champions League, including a thunderbolt that came very close to knocking the goal over.

One can only imagine what he can do in a full season for Dortmund.

Nick: Jadon Sancho

I love that Norweigian Destroyer Erling Haaland, but Sancho was on a completely other level throughout the year (before and after the COVID pause). 17 goals and 16 assists in 32 Bundesliga games is just absurd. There was a point before the pause that he was averaging a goal and an assist every game, something you really don’t see unless you’re one of the stars for PSG playing against Ligue 1 competition.

Not only has he produced with goals and assists, but there was at least one moment a game where Sancho would take on a defender and absolutely embarrass them with a skill-move.

I’d like to point out that had Haaland played a full season for Dortmund and carried his early Ruckrunde form throughout, he’d most likely be Forward of the Year.

Sweetest Goal

Sean: Erling Håland vs. Paris Saint-Germain, Champions League Round of 16

Forget curling the ball. There’s nothing I love more than when a striker puts his laces through a shot and sends the ball flying into the net at a million miles per hour. That’s exactly what Erling Håland did against PSG. He picked the ball up right on the edge of the box and absolutely hammered a shot that blew past Alphonse Areola. The WFS went nuts, and it traumatized PSG so much that they felt the need to mock Håland for his celebration over a month later.

Brett: Julian Brandt vs. RasenBall, Matchday 16

Yes, he gifted RasenBall a goal in the second half of an eventual 3-3 draw at the Westfalenstadion in December, but Brandt’s strike in the first half of this match is the type of goal that makes you stop what you’re doing, put your hands on your head, and go, “What the h*** did I just witness?!”

The turn was lovely, the step around Dayot Upamecano was sublime, and the finish superb.

Still don’t appreciate how awesome a goal this was? Watch the reactions of Brandt’s teammates immediately afterward.

When your teammates look as if they’ve seen something unbelievable, you know you’ve scored a special goal.

Nick: Gio Reyna vs. Werder Bremen, DFB-Pokal Round of 16

While we may have gone out to Bremen (again) in the Round of 16 of the cup (again), one of the few bright spots of that performance was the highlight-reel goal scored by Gio Reyna, his first senior goal for BVB.

Between the first touch, the footwork to dance around three Bremen players, the confidence to take a chance on goal, and the skill to curl the ball into the very corner of the net, that was a very special goal.

Most Underrated

Sean: Raphael Guerreiro

Guerreiro’s 8 goals and 2 assists won’t get him much attention compared to the likes of Sancho or Håland. They don’t immediately jump off the page, but they are much more impressive when you consider the fact that Guerreiro is a defensibly reliable wing back who tracks back much better than Hakimi ever did.

Paul: Thorgan Hazard

There’s a few players that could probably claim this title. Hakimi faced a lot of criticism for his defensive lapses, but probably should have received more praise for his contributions on the offensive end, Hummels gets a lot of hate but was one of our best players all season long, even Sancho is not safe from our sometimes excessively critical fanbase, but my vote goes to Thorgan Hazard.

While no one ever goes as far as saying Hazard is rubbish, it feels as though he is underappreciated. He seems to be one of those players that people notice when he has a mediocre game, but not a lot is said when he has a good game. He always puts in a great shift, which means his floor is pretty high, but he also put up 7 goals and 13 assists in the league. That’s an astonishing tally for a player that might not even start if we were at full strength. We should probably appreciate him a little more, especially when we’re always complaining about wanting players that aren’t going to treat us like a stepping stone.

Brett: Thorgan Hazard

Hazard gets it gets this mainly for being overshadowed by his fellow attackers. While Sancho was the squad’s best player, Håland made all the headlines and bagged a ton of goals after his arrival, Reus is the hometown hero, and Reyna is the new kid in town, Hazard was Mr. Reliable.

He featured in 33 out of 34 league matches and finished with 7 goals and 13 assists, finishing tied for third most in the Bundesliga in the latter category behind Sancho and Thomas Müller. While his ceiling might not be as high as Sancho or Håland, his floor is arguably higher than theirs, as a mediocre match for the Belgian looks a lot better on the eyes than a mediocre match for the other two.

His ability to track back and help out defensively goes unnoticed sometimes, but it’s a big help against tougher opponents who press.

Nick: Mats Hummels

Yes, the most expensive player in Dortmund history is also the most underrated player of the year. While the attacking prowess of Jadon Sancho, Erling Haaland, Julian Brandt and Achraf Hakimi stole the spotlight, Hummels was silently commanding one of the least-scored upon backlines in the Bundesliga. Even with that 4-0 drubbing by Hoffenheim in the final game when there was nothing left to play for, Dortmund finished in the top 5 for fewest goals allowed in the Bundesliga and Hummels was a big reason for that.

Not only was he strong in the backline, but he was often making line-breaking passes and helping upfield in the press to win back the ball in a favorable position.

Brian:Raph Guerreiro

Raph is probably the good BVB player that non-BVB fans know about least. he has been a constant for BVB since we signed him in 2016. This year it felt like he made a leap in every part of his game H e started to become a real goal scoring threat, and was able to set up more plays then just the lopped crosses he had in the past. I think this step comes from Favre switching to playing Raph at wingback. its clear that this is probably Raphs best position. he looked great as a mid under Tuchel and should have been more chances to move up under Bosz/Stoger and Favre.

Player of the Year

Sean: Jadon Sancho

Sancho is simply incredible. He’s a world class player and BVB fans should cherish every remaining moment he wears our shirt, if there’s any time left at all.

Paul: Jadon Sancho

I don’t think this one is especially close. For whatever reason, some BVB fans don’t seem to appreciate Sancho as much as they probably should, but it’s pretty hard to argue with his contribution this season. He has put up more goals plus assists per 90 (minus pens) than anyone else in Europe this season. If that was his last season for BVB, at least he made it a good one!

Brett: Jadon Sancho

I kind of revealed this in the previous category, but despite moments where his concentration and focus were questionable, Sancho was the best player in the Dortmund squad this season.

17 goals and 16 assists in just 32 league matches is absurd.

Nick: Jadon Sancho

Like I said above, 17 goals and 16 assists in 32 league games kind of speaks for itself. Not to mention he has the potential to move for an eye-popping €120 million move should Manchester United achieve Champions League qualification.

Brian:Jadon Sancho

I didn’t answer for forward of the year cause i figured I’d have all the same things to say about Jadon. When Jadon Sacnho is “on” in a game, he is one of the best 10 players in Europe. His playmaking ability is approaching that of greats like Messi. His shooting is improving every season, with 17 goals this year we may only just be seeing the beginning of what he can do. However there are times when Jadon just seems absent from the game. Call it the dreaded BVB mental block we had throughout the season, but Jadon is definitely still liable to fall off in games. Luckily this is not a uncommon thing for a young layer and as he ages we should stop seeing games were Sancho looks hapless. That makes the prospect of holding onto him all the more enticing.