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Players of the Season Roundtable: Defender

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Who was BVB’s best defender last season?

Borussia Dortmund v SS Lazio: Group F - UEFA Champions League Photo by Friedemann Vogel - Pool/Getty Images

With all these pesky international tournaments out of the way, we can turn our attention back to Borussia Dortmund, and now we take a look at some of the team’s best performers last season. The Fear The Wall writers will make their case for the players they think were BVB’s best in each position, and you, the unwashed rabble, will get to vote on the winner. Don’t say we don’t do anything for you.

Lets start with BVB’s best defender!

Paul Johnson: Manuel Akanji

Borussia Dortmund v Bayer 04 Leverkusen - Bundesliga Photo by Alexandre Simoes/Borussia Dortmund via Getty Images

Manuel Akanji hasn’t always had it easy at BVB. When he first joined the club he hit the ground running, and looked like an absolute steal, but he had a tough second season. He went into last season with many questioning whether he was really good enough to play for Borussia Dortmund. I’m pretty sure all those questions were answered. Akanji was tremendous all season, providing plenty of defensive stability, and showing off his abilities with the ball at his feet, both as a ball carrier and a distributor.

Akanji is incredibly easy to like, so I’m really pleased to see how well he did last season. He’s back where he belongs!

Sean Keyser: Mats Hummels

RB Leipzig v Borussia Dortmund - DFB Cup Final 2021 Photo by Mika Volkmann/Getty Images

While I do love Manuel Akanji as a person from the bottom of my heart, and I think he deserves much more recognition from media outside of Germany and Switzerland, at the end of the day, there’s only one true candidate for “Defender of the Season” in my opinion, and that’s Mats Hummels.

Besides leading the squad in basically every defensive category, whether it be tackles, interceptions, defensive third pressures, or clearances, Mats Hummels is the leader on the back line, setting an example for his teammates and also acting as the key starting point for much of Dortmund’s ball progression. He can launch a counter attack with a single long ball better than anyone, and he’s even an offensive threat off of corners. Let’s not forget: he was tied with Guerreiro for fourth on the team in goals!

Mike Solak: Raphael Guerreiro

FBL-GER-BUNDESLIGA-MAINZ-DORTMUND Photo by DANIEL ROLAND/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Yeah yeah, those first two choices are the obvious ones, and rightfully so. However, the best defender for Borussia Dortmund was Portuguese maestro Raphael Guerreiro. Listen, just stay with me on this for a minute and open your mind to something a little more outside the box. Conventionally speaking, Guerreiro doesn’t appear to offer a lot on the defensive side of the game, but it is precisely what he does to impact the other end of the pitch which makes Dortmund so much better defensively. The fact of the matter is that Dortmund generally dominate the ball in nearly every match and are usually on the front foot. After all, the old cliche still rings true, the best defense is a great offense, and in Guerreiro Dortmund have the best attacking fullback. Don’t believe me? Fine, let’s look at the numbers from fbref.com.

The game is about goals first and foremost, and Guerreiro ranked 15th in the Bundesliga in goal-creating actions per 90, chipping in with .65 which ranked highest among out and out defenders in the league (Filip Kostic of Eintracht Frankfurt was above him but he played more of a midfielder than defender). Additionally, Guerreiro’s 9.27 progressive passes per 90 is just behind league leader Joshua Kimmich (sorry, have to puke real quick after typing his name). In fact, Guerreiro proves to be very safe with the ball too, even in the opponent’s end, finishing third in completed passes into the penalty area per 90, with 2.48 passes, just behind Sancho and Angelino. Yet of the top three, Guerreiro had a much higher passing percentage having completed more than 86% of his total passes including 70% of his long passes, nearly 30% more than his Leipzig counterpart, Angelino.

In the modern game, wide defenders have become old school wingers for top clubs, because attack is the best form of defense, and BVB have the best attacking fullback in the galaxy, taking pressure off of his fellow defenders.

Zac Weilminster: Raphael Guerreiro

VfL Wolfsburg v Borussia Dortmund - Bundesliga Photo by Mario Hommes/DeFodi Images via Getty Images

While Akanji absolutely gets my vote for most improved, the best defender this season for me was Raphael Guerreiro. Guerreiro’s statistics in ball progression speak for themselves, as Mike explained above. The modern game has reinvented the role of a fullback, and in the position he plays, there are few players who can outclass Guerreiro. He is not the most conventional for his position, but as a certain Belgian player showed us this season, being big and strong does not equate to success in the fullback role. Guerreiro has exceptional game understanding, control, and composure which made him a devastating bogey to defend on the wing this season. As Mike mentioned, his interplay with Sancho was truly artistic, and despite working higher up the pitch, Guerreiro still managed his flank defensively as BVB saw out their Champions League push.


Have your say! Who was BVB’s best defender last season?

Poll

Defender of the Season

This poll is closed

  • 17%
    Manuel Akanji
    (50 votes)
  • 43%
    Mats Hummels
    (121 votes)
  • 38%
    Raphael Guerreiro
    (107 votes)
278 votes total Vote Now