After the shock of last week, Borussia Dortmund got a narrow win against a meager Hertha Berlin side. Dortmund dominated the game for the most part with possession and quality chances but had a few scary moments from the back. The main issue Dortmund had today was all in the final third. For the life of us, Dortmund could not finish anything at all in front of goal. Dortmund had 21 shots and 7 on target with 3.5 expected goals according to AWS. This cannot continue as a trend going forward. The team needs to be more clinical because if this were a more challenging opposition this game could have ended a lot worse.
Although with this we did get to finally see the debut of Salih Özcan who was a breath of fresh air. We also finally got to see Anthony Modeste’s first goal for the schwarzgelben. After four games Dortmund have won three which is a very solid way to begin the new season. There are still obviously some things that need to get sorted but it was great to pick up three solid points after last weekends disappointment. There were some certain standouts today that helped contribute to the three points. The most notable were Salih Özcan, Jude Bellingham, and Nico Schlotterbeck.
After making his long-awaited debut, Salih Özcan did not disappoint. For me he was Dortmund’s most valuable player today. He was found everywhere on the pitch and was reading playings like no one else. He helped Dortmund keep shape and was very aggressive going in and winning tackles which is something we have been lacking for years now. While Jude would go forward Salih was covering the space he left very well on Hertha counters preventing any real big threats.
Along with his defensive intelligence he was massively composed on the ball and also contributed the sole goal by playing a beautiful cross to his former teammate at Köln Anthony Modeste. Salih’s presence is something that we’ve needed for a while and it is finally good to see him get his first match under his belt. I am very intrigued to see where he takes us as a squad going forward given the ability he brings to the side. Overall, it was a great first performance for Salih Özcan who has brought spirit and energy to a side that has been lacking it for a long time at the defensive midfield position.
After not having his best performances to begin the season Jude was incredible today I thought. The main issue however was just has ability to not be able to convert any of his chances. Jude like Salih Özcan was everywhere on the pitch today. He was very patient on the ball and progressed the ball extremely well today. Along with that he put in a great shift defensively. He was covering space extremely well today and as usual was one of our best pressing players in the match. The only negative that came from Jude’s performance was his play in the final third. At times Jude was too casual when he needed to be clinical. He had a few very good chances to score but just could not find the back of the net today.
Jude slowly has become one of Dortmund’s most important players and continues to impress as a teenager. His composure and consistency is unparalleled to players at his age. Jude provides energy and enthusiasm to the squad that is essential for the teams success this season. After last weeks disappointing result Jude picked up the energy in the squad and helped to guide us to a much needed boost of confidence and a massive three points early in the season. Even with the disappointment in front of goal today Jude Bellingham was by far one of Dortmund's best players today without a shred of doubt.
Last week Nico Schlotterbeck was Dortmund’s best player in my opinion, and this week he showed his quality once again. Through four games Nico has been Dortmund’s best signing in the offseason. Today he showed all the qualities we signed him for. He was composed, aggressive, and physical. Nico had a handful of brilliant tackles that saved us today. Him and Mats Hummels were the backbone of the squad today.
Along with the partnership he had with Hummels today Nico was quintessential to helping Dortmund get all three points. Even on the ball he was excelling. Constantly Nico was playing long balls and connected to midfielders with progressive passes. For me Nico is going to be a pillar of where Dortmund heads in the future. With that being said it would not surprise me if we see Nico Schlotterbeck as one of the starting center backs for Germany for this upcoming World Cup come November and December.
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