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Match Ratings: BVB Look Lost in 3-1 Defeat to Sporting Lisbon

I prefer the Europa League anyway. It’s much more authentic.

Sporting CP v Borussia Dortmund - UEFA Champions League Photo by Eric Verhoeven/Soccrates/Getty Images

Borussia Dortmund couldn’t even make it to the final game of the Champions League group stages before getting knocked out. They went into last night’s game against Sporting Lisbon needing a result to stand a chance of qualifying for the knockout stages, but they wilted under the slightest pressure and were comfortably beaten 3-1 by a Sporting side that have now qualified for the knockout stages for the first time since the 2008/09 season.

BVB will now have to duke it out in the Europa League, which is obviously less than ideal. It’ll mean travelling further, and dealing with a Thursday/Sunday schedule, all while making less money from the competition. But on the bright side, 538 now have BVB as the second favorites to win the Europa League, behind RB Leipzig and ahead of West Ham and Barcelona. Maybe Dortmund can win an unconventional treble?

Here’s our ratings from last night’s depressing performance:

Starting XI

Gregor Kobel

Paul: 6

Made a crucial save early in the second half and he stopped Goncalves’s penalty, but he was unable to do anything about Porro’s follow-up, nor the first two Sporting goals.

John: 7

Kobel made three saves, including a penalty. Alas, there was almost nothing he could do about the three goals. Schulz’s mistake put him one on one on the first. Goncalves’s second was a worldy. The third—can’t do anything about a rebound from a saved penalty.

Nico Schulz

Paul: 3

Schulz made the mistake for the goal and was largely absent otherwise. He was also nowhere to be found on Sporting’s second goal. He was bad.

John: 2

He was awful. I wonder whether BVB would have ever signed him if Jogi Löw had not called him up to the national team. Yet again, he showed he belongs with Hertha Berlin, not Borussia Dortmund, harsh as that sounds. That’s why Rose yanked him at halftime.

Marin Pongracic

Paul: 4

Pongracic was caught out a little on Schulz’s mistake. He could have been in a better position, though it was on Schulz more than him.

John: 5

Decent, but unremarkable. I think he hesitated on the decisive play with Schulz, but how could he know that Schulz would pull up and attempt such a back-pass?

Manuel Akanji

Paul: 6

Can’t blame a guy for failing to fight a series of fires when no one else is helping him.

John: 7

Solid performance from Akanji where BVB needed it the most: on defense.

Thomas Meunier

Paul: 5

John: 5

Meunier did nothing really of note, but he also was not so awful that Rose had to take him off the pitch.

Axel Witsel

Paul: 4

Was too static for Sporting’s second.

John: 6

Witsel seemed out of his depth in this game. His passing was accurate, but mostly harmless. Now 32, he has lost more than one step in his game.

Jude Bellingham

Paul: 6

John: 7

Bellingham did what he could to threaten Sporting’s defense, but nothing came off.

Julian Brandt

Paul: 6

John: 7

Brandt brought a lot of energy and tried to convey positive energy to his teammates despite the circumstances. His key passes did not result in goals, but he can’t convert his own crosses.

Reinier

Paul: 4

John: 5

Marco Reus

Paul: 6

John: 6

Donyell Malen

Paul: 7

Was one of the only Dortmund players out there that offered anything in the first half.

John: 8

Malen did everything he could to give BVB a chance. Because BVB’s offense was so disjointed, he ended up working like a soloist on attack. He was rewarded with a goal late in the game, and that gave BVB a late lifeline, but too little, too late.

Substitutes

Emre Can

Paul: 2

The red card seemed pretty soft, but Emre Can also gave the referee the opportunity to make the call. He absolutely needs to learn to keep his head in these moments. Regardless of whether the call was correct or not (I don’t think it was), Can’s reaction left himself open to getting in trouble. If this was a first, I’d be a lot more forgiving, but it has cost Dortmund far too many times.

John: 2

Emre Can’s hot head is too great a liability. He scores a worldy now and then, but he just cannot keep it together on the pitch. He responded to a provocation and, instead of making the team stronger, all but killed its chance of walking away from this crucial match with a positive result. Inexcusable.

Steffen Tigges

Paul: 5

John: 4

I don’t recall Tigges being involved at all.

Dan-Axel Zagadou

Paul: 3

Got himself needlessly booked in the scuffle that also led to Emre Can’s red card, and then he gave away a stupid penalty. Not a good night for the big man.

John: 4

The two most notable actions of his 30-minute shift were two fouls, one of which resulted in a penalty for Sporting. Very disappointing.

Mahmoud Dahoud

Paul: 5

John: 6

Improvement over Witsel, but not enough to change the trajectory of the game.

Overall

Paul: 4

It wasn’t a calamity of errors or a dramatic collapse. It was just shit. BVB barely looked like they were in the game, except for a brief stretch after half-time. I know folks will try to blame the referee for this, and I do think it was a poor decision to send Can off, but a lot of the damage was done before that point.

Outside of Malen’s performance, I don’t think there were many positives to take from last night’s game. The only point I can make in their favor is the fact that BVB have been struggling with a lot of injuries this season, and several of those players that are still healthy are looking pretty tired. That has to be factored into any assessment of yesterday’s performance, but it was bad either way.

John: 4

The highlights provided by Malen, Brandt, and Bellingham were nullified by self-inflicted wounds. Although some of the players seemed determined to fight on after Can’s ejection, the body language of many seemed defeatist. Too many injuries, too many mistakes, and too little from the players left. It was a desolate game.