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Match Ratings: Borussia Dortmund 3-0 Borussia Monchengladbach

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The Kids are Alright

Borussia Dortmund v Borussia Moenchengladbach - Bundesliga Photo by Alex Gottschalk/DeFodi Images via Getty Images

The first league game of the season could certainly have been an easier assignment, but BVB still came away with a 3-0 victory and all three points. The first half was a pretty tight affair, but Dortmund largely dominated the second half, and though it wasn’t a vintage display, they ended up being good value for the win. Perhaps the most exciting part of the game was the presence of so many talented kids putting in big performances. The average age of the goalscorers and the players assisting them was just 18.5. Sure, we have got used to seeing Sancho and Haaland lighting teams up week-in, week-out, but this time round they were joined by the 22 year old BVB academy product, Felix Passlack, and two wonderfully gifted 17 year olds in Bellingham and Reyna. Football is fun, and here are some ratings for you all to ruin!

Starters

Roman Burki

Paul: 7

Gregory: 8

Made an absolutely miraculous save in the first half. Distribution was a little spotty, but a high BMG press, especially in the first half can cause that. Bürki prevented at least one certain goal, and deserves to be praised for his performance today.

Nick: 7

Kept a clean sheet (with one spectacular double save) but his distribution could’ve been better. But he did what was expected of him in a win, so he gets a bump.

Emre Can

Paul: 6

Can looked a little vulnerable in possession on a couple occasions in the first half, getting caught out taking too long to pick his pass, but luckily BVB weren’t made to pay for it, and he improved in the second half. He made one or two really important tackles too. An okay performance.

Gregory: 6

Nick: 6

He had one really dumb giveaway and foul in the first half, and he was sloppy on and off the ball at times. He was still pretty solid in defense, especially in one instance in the second half.

Mats Hummels

Paul: 6

Gregory: 6

Lucky not to give away a penalty to Thuram in the second half. Was not able to make a typical Hummels’ pass into the final third all game. Defense looked shaky and disorganized at times. Occasionally got pulled out of the back three and had to chase a runner, which left the back 3 vulnerable.

Nick: 6

Got bailed out by the officials and VAR on that push in the back in the box. There was something off about him today; he wasn’t very consistent in his passing or defending. Need more from him moving forward.

Manuel Akanji

Paul: 8

After some really torrid performances last season, Akanji showed improvements after the lockdown, and his performance against Gladbach was another step in the right direction. He put in a solid shift defensively, and was excellent in possession. He completed 91.4% of his passes, despite making the most passes under pressure (14). He also led the team in touches (93), progressive distance from passes (413 yards), and passes into the final third (4).

It feels like many fans have forgotten just how good Akanji can be, their memories wiped by the slurry he has been raking across the defensive third in the last 18 months. If he can keep this up, we will have a much, much stronger defense.

Gregory: 7.5

Nick: 8

By far the best of the center back trio. He was everywhere in defense, was a force in the air, and his passing was on point. It’s just one game into the new season, but I’m inching towards hitting the “Akanji is Back” button.

Thomas Meunier

Paul: 6

On paper, Meunier’s performance looked pretty good. He ranked third behind Akanji and Can for passes into the final third (3, behind their 4 each), led the team for passes (3) and crosses (2) into the penalty area, and second behind only Sancho for progressive passes (5).

However, he never really felt like a significant threat, and while he didn’t really make any major mistakes, it was just an okay performance. I’m sure we’ll see more as he settles in to the team.

Gregory: 6

I thought Rose did very well to try and split Can and Meunier with a winger and it worked very well in the first half. I honestly expected more from him, in terms of crosses and overlapping runs, but seeing as how the focus of BMG’s press was focused on that side of the pitch, it is understandable how Meunier had a bit of a quiet night.

Nick: 6

Could’ve been better, could’ve been worse. There were times he was very solid in the back and going forward, and there were also times he was completely bypassed by the opposition or dispossessed in attack. Like Hummels, I need to see more from Meunier going forward.

Thorgan Hazard

Paul: N/A

Gregory: N/A

Injured 15 minutes into the game

Nick: N/A

Not much to grade on before coming off in the 15th minute with an injury.

Axel Witsel

Paul: 6

A solid performance from Witsel, the kind of which we’ve come to expect of him. He provided consistent support for teammates in possession, kept the ball moving well when Dortmund were under pressure, and he chipped in plenty on the defensive end. He provides the stability and support that makes the rest of this team tick.

Gregory: 7

When the back line was being pressed, Witsel was there as an outlet. When play was recycled, Witsel was there. At times in the first half, when BMG dominated possession, Marco Rose’s 352 tended to overwhelm the double pivot of Witsel and Bellingham. Witsel had, very quietly, an impressive game and consistently played the right passes to maintain possession.

Nick: 7

A rock in possession, even when quadruple teamed. Witsel was always there when the ball needed to be slowed down or possession maintained. His passing stats were very solid like always, and I definitely noticed him pitching in in defense. If his performance meant anything, it should be another great year for Witsel.

Jude Bellingham

Paul: 7

A really impressive debut given the context. He’s a 17 year old kid playing in an extremely demanding role, and in a formation that allows very little room for error in midfield, against a top four team. Defensively he was sound, as is expected, and offensively he had some very bright moments.

Bellingham led the team in pressures (21) and ball recoveries (tied with Witsel for 9), and chipped in with a tackle, interception, and two blocks. He also contributed plenty of ball progression, behind only the defense and keeper for pass progression.

That said, you could see that he is making a step up in competition, especially when he tried to dribble through Gladbach in transition (which he attempted 3 times, and was successful once). That will come with time, but an assist and a solid performance is plenty for now!

Gregory: 6

Very good performance. In the 1 v 1 midfield battle against Kramer, his inexperience against a quality veteran showed, especially in the first half. He tried forcing dribbles to achieve a transition and got passed around a couple times when he attempted to press in the midfield. That said, I should not take away from his assist and otherwise very solid performance.

Nick: 7

Not bad for a Bundesliga debut. It takes a lot to move from the EFL Championship straight to the Bundesliga and immediately start, but that’s just what he did. His assist on the Reyna goal was very clever and shows his composure in tight spaces.

Gio Reyna

Paul: 7

Might have got a little bit lucky on what appeared to be a bit of a dive for the penalty (if not a dive, it was very light contact), but otherwise had some very bright moments. Picked up his first Bundesliga goal, and involved in the second. It wasn’t a complete performance, but at 17, it was very impressive.

Gregory: 7

Nick: 7.5

His first Bundesliga goal was a very tidy finish and great recognition of the space avaialble to him after Bellingham played him that pass in tight space. He also earned a penalty for Dortmund’s second on a “questionable” foul inside the box. Like Paul said, he had his moments of showing his age, but I think Dortmund have found another incredibly gifted teenager for their side. And the fact that he’s starting over established Bundesliga stars like Reus and Brandt can’t be overlooked.

Jadon Sancho

Paul: 7

One of Sancho’s quieter games, and yet he still popped up with a brilliant assist. A surging run covering almost the entire length of the pitch, and a delightfully weighted pass into Haaland’s path.

The rest of his game included some questionable decisions, and some stretches during which he was virtually absent. But even when he is not at his best, he still manages two shots, three key passes, five shot-creating actions, a combined npxG + xA of 0.4, and he led the team for progressive passes (6), and progressive ball carrying (360 yards). Sancho at his worst is still better than most players at their very best.

Gregory: 7

Nick: 7

He was solid when we needed him. Aside from his brilliant assist and near header-goal in the first half, he was just okay. He had some poor giveaways and mistimed 1v1 dribbles, but he also made plenty of important passes and was still a threat all game. Plus seeing the Manchester United fans on social media react to everything he does with the false hope of them joining their club will always fill me with satisfaction.

Erling Haaland

Paul: 8

Two goals off five shots. Did exactly what is expected of him. Probably deserves the man of the match (though I think Akanji’s performance was equally as good, even if a little quieter). Good to see him starting this season in the same way he finished the last.

Gregory: 8

Nick: 8

MOTM for me. His two goals will make the most headlines, but his movement and hold-up play were incredibly underrated on the day.

Subs

Felix Passlack

Paul: 7

Passlack had to come into the game very early on, and he coped brilliantly. He was a constant threat down the left flank, providing a lot more progression and width than Meunier on the opposite wing, and he was pretty solid defensively too. He made a couple poor decisions in the final third, but was pretty unlucky not to get a goal, with a shot being blocked on the line.

Gregory: 8

The surprise of the night. Came in after 15 minutes for Thorgan Hazard, who has been moonlighting as a wing back in the last couple games. Despite being on his weaker foot, Passlack was very defensively solid and made a couple dangerous passes into the final third, including a one touch pass to Haaland for a chance on goal. Watching him sprint during every counter attack after a BMG corner was a delight, and I hope to see more of him in the coming weeks. Sometimes the best replacement for your starting wingback is not the 25m national team starter, but the academy product who has been on unsuccessful loans for the last two years.

Nick: 7

Felix, who hadn’t played in a competitive match for Dortmund since 2017, made the pitch thanks to a Thorgan Hazard injury and injuries to the other right backs on our roster. And he played much better than a lot of people thought he would. He was threatening down the left flank all night on offense, and he was very solid in defense. There were a few moments where he could’ve done better, but for the most part he looked like he belonged on the pitch.

Thomas Delaney

Paul: 6

Came on with a little over 20 minutes left in the game, replacing Bellingham, and tightening things up so that BVB could see out the win. Delaney is at his best when he is coming in to provide a little stability, rather than when Dortmund need to make something happen.

Gregory: 7

Nick: 6

A solid defensive sub for Bellingham. He definitely helped solidify the midfield as BMG was cranking up the pressure and attacking pace. His header helped directly lead to Haaland’s second goal and the goal that sealed all three points for Dortmund.

Marco Reus

Paul: N/A

Gregory: N/A

Waiting for him to shake some of his rust off as he looks to get back into the swing of things.

Nick: N/A

Didn’t do much after coming on when the game was good and won.

Julian Brandt

Paul: N/A

Gregory: N/A

Really looks like the odd man out after today’s performance by Bellingham and Reyna today.

Nick: N/A

Came off the bench after the game was all but decided.