Hey, everyone! It’s just over a week into 2023 and on behalf of the writing team here at Fear The Wall, I wanted to say happy New Year! As always, we have a profound appreciation for everyone taking the time to read, comment, and engage with all the articles we published across 2022. Going into this new year, we have the largest pool of writers we have ever had on this blog and are really looking forward to another year of talking about Borussia Dortmund with all of you. So, keep your eyes peeled for all the content we’ll be publishing. I think you’ll enjoy a lot of it, and feel free to let us know if you have any ideas for articles you want to read!
Now, speaking of content, we’re only 13 days away from Dortmund’s first Bundesliga game of the new year and it’s a perfect time for us to wrap up our World Cup/holiday break. That means the return of the Daily Bee next week, which will be every weekday during the season, our regular matchday coverage, and some more in-depth pieces. If you enjoy what we’re putting out throughout the year, let us know in the comments and feel free to join our Discord server for more conversations with a lot of the Fear The Wall regulars. If you hate the content we’re putting out, feel free to DM @paul_johnson89 on Twitter so only he has to deal with it.
Now, to celebrate the start of 2023, here is our 2022 Year in Review!
The Michael Zorc Award
Player of the Year
Paul: Jude Bellingham
This one feels a little obvious. He’s been very, very good. I don’t think he’s going to be here much longer, so we should enjoy him while he is.
Patrick: Jude Bellingham
As a Dahoud-enthusiast (a Dahoudiast?) it pains me to say this, but Jude Bellingham was easily Borussia Dortmund’s best player of the year. It’s crazy to think that Jude is still only 19 years old. He has become one of, if not the best midfielder in the Bundesliga. He has continued to kick ass despite the team’s struggles this calendar year. He probably won’t be with the team by the end of 2023, but I’m looking forward to watching him play in black and yellow for the rest of this season.
Sean: Erling Haaland
This is partially for the sake of variety as Jude is probably the correct answer for the totality of 2022, but it’s worth noting that for half of 2022, Erling Haaland basically carried Borussia Dortmund and was the club’s biggest offensive threat by a wide margin. Even though he left the club in the summer, he still scored the most goals in black and yellow, was arguably the most exciting player to watch, and more than anyone else was a star that captured the discourse and recognition of footballing media around the world.
Paul: Donyell Malen
Every now and then Donyell Malen shows hints of the good player that appears to be buried deep inside. But then he spends the next few games desperately stamping out any optimism we might have about his potential. I think it’s the occasional signs of promise that make Malen that much more disappointing.
Interestingly, when you look at his numbers, they don’t actually look that bad. Hopefully the flashes of quality he very occasionally shows can become more frequent in the second half of the season. I just haven’t given up hope yet!
Patrick: Raphael Guerreiro
I like Guerreiro but man has he had a tough year. Sure, guys like Malen and Adeyemi have disappointed but Guerreiro has taken an uncharacteristic dive to become a liability despite being one of the team’s best performers for several seasons. He had his worst Bundesliga tally to date in 2022 with only 5 goal involvements. On top of that, he continues to have moments where he just loses interest or forgets how to defend. I’m hoping he turns it around but much like Jude Bellingham, it looks like Guerreiro won’t be ending the year in Dortmund.
Sean: Donyell Malen
I was made a fool by this man. When he had a somewhat decent performance in BVB’s first game of the season, in the DFB Pokal against 1860 Munich, I made an admittedly hyperbolic prediction in our Bold Predictions Roundtable that his goalscoring record would explode and he would lead the Bundesliga in scoring. In fairness this was mostly a joke and I never expected that to happen, but I did expect him to take a step up from last season’s disappointment to at least become a consistent scorer in the Bundesliga.
Instead, Malen has basically been a useless donkey who has made a career in Dortmund out of attempting and failing to beat defenders with dribbles, dragging shots from the top of the box six fee wide, and basically nothing else. It’s looking like Dortmund basically lit €30m on fire when they bought him.
Big Yellow Überraschung
Paul: Firing Marco Rose!
I think we can debate whether or not this was the right move in the end, but there’s no doubt it came as a massive shock when it happened.
Patrick: Marco Rose Getting Jettisoned Overnight
I didn’t see this one coming. After an often-injured and incomplete Dortmund squad ended the 2021/22 season in second place, I figured we would see Marco Rose get another season at the helm of the club. Sebastian Kehl, however, had different plans. Would be hard to top this one, although I’m sure if Gio Reyna’s parents decided to publicize their attempted coup on Gregg Berhalter a few days earlier, there would be a bit more competition for the most surprising moment of 2022.
Sean: Marco Rose Getting Sacked
There’s not much more to say on this one. I specifically remember waking up, checking my phone, and seeing a Slack alert that Paul had already written up an article with a headline like “Breaking: Borussia Dortmund Sack Marco Rose.” I’m pretty sure I needed to read it several times just for it to sink in.
The Lovely Stuff Trophy
Paul: Modeste’s Last Ditch Equalizer Versus Bayern
I didn’t actually watch this game live, because I was at a wedding, but I still think it was the best moment of the year. Modeste hasn’t exactly been a huge success since joining Borussia Dortmund, but in partnership with Youssoufa Moukoko, he helped snatch a point in the dying moments of the game. Pleasing.
Patrick: The 2021-2022 Send Off
The league was wrapped up a few weeks before the final matchday of the 2021/22 season but that didn’t change Dortmund’s game vs. Hertha Berlin from being a must-watch for me. Infinitely more important than the sporting aspect was the bittersweet moment of some fan favorites leaving the team. Club legend, Michael Zorc, and a ton of popular players including Erling Haaland, Manuel Akanji, Dan-Axel Zagadou, and Axel Witsel all said goodbye to the Yellow Wall.
Sean: Signing Nico Schlotterbeck
Even though Schlotti hasn’t had a perfect start to his BVB career, he clearly has worlds of potential. The fact that we managed to sign one of the most promising center-backs in the world was a breath of fresh air after years of comparatively slim pickings in the transfer market.
The Not So Lovely Stuff Trophy
Paul: Sebastien Haller’s Cancer Diagnosis
There was more than enough bad moments to pick from on the pitch in the last year, but Sebastien Haller’s testicular cancer diagnosis served as an important reminder of how little these things matter in the grand scheme of things.
Patrick: Gio Reyna’s Injuries
I cannot stress enough how awful Haller’s diagnosis was. It is easily the worst BVB moment of the year and I think Paul emphasizes that. Outside of that, I would argue the injury problems of Gio Reyna being another point of sorrow for BVB fans. With Sancho leaving, Reyna was set to make the number 7 jersey his last season but consistent injuries saw him sidelined for the majority of the season. The most heartbreaking moment? When he came on for just 5 minutes and reaggravated his injury in Dortmund’s match against Stuttgart.
Sean: Losing to Rangers
Strictly in terms of what happened on the pitch, this was the worst moment for me. I thought that Dortmund had a legitimate shot at winning the Europa League. I sincerely believe that Dortmund were a better team than Eintracht Frankfurt, who ended up winning the trophy, so there’s no way we couldn’t have at least made a serious run at it. Instead, we bounced in the first of the knockout rounds and never had a solid shot at the trophy.
The Not Losing to Bayern Munich Medal
Game of the Year
Paul: Dortmund 2-2 Bayern Munich
It has been a barren year...
Patrick: Dortmund 2-2 Bayern Munich
It wasn’t a great year for Dortmund games so I’ve gone with a sentimental pick.
Sean: Dortmund 2-2 Bayern Munich
It is kinda disappointing that there weren’t many more memorable games than this one. Unfortunately, Dortmund’s 2022 was mostly mediocre, so a draw against Bayern with an admittedly epic last-minute equalizer is about the best we got.
The Second Best Team in Germany
Bundesliga Team of the Year
Union Berlin have received a lot of much-deserved plaudits for their performance in the Bundesliga and in Europe over the last year, but I think Freiburg deserve some of that love. They are currently sat in 2nd place in the Bundesliga , and while their xGD/90 would suggest they are overperforming a little bit, they are clearly one of the four or five best teams in the league. The fact they are also into the knockout stages in the Europa League too only makes Freiburg’s achievements in the league that more impressive.
Patrick: Eintracht Frankfurt
Look, I’m a sucker for tournament runs. While Freiburg, Union Berlin, Bayern, and RB Leipzig have all impressed, I’m nominating Eintracht Frankfurt as my team of the season. They won the Europa League, beating Real Betis, Barcelona, West Ham, and Rangers in the process. On top of that, they didn’t lose a single game the entire tournament! This season, they’ve continued that good form and are out of the group stage in the Champions League while competing for UCL spots in the Bundesliga.
Sean: Union Berlin
Union might have fallen back to earth a little bit following their early season breakout, but they’re still a fantastic team that plays a structurally sound and relentless game. After losing their first two Europa League matches, they rattled off four wins out of four to make it to the knockout round, and look poised to do some damage in the second half of the season.
Golden ‘We Wish You Were Yellow & Black’ Ball
Bundesliga Player of the Year
Paul: Christopher Nkunku
Christoher Nkunku won’t be plying his trade in the Bundesliga for much longer, having agreed a deal to join Chelsea in the summer, but he has been absolutely lights out since he first came to Germany in 2019. He has gone from being a standout in an excellent RB Leipzig side to being the standout in the whole of the Bundesliga. Incredibly, his performances this season are actually down from the previous season, but that’s because a) he was absolutely incredible last season, and b) he’s getting very little help in offense right now. What a player. I’m pleased he won’t be playing for RB Leipzig much longer... Shame he’ll be playing for Chelsea instead.
Patrick: Daichi Kamada
In an effort to have an original thought and not go with Nkunku, I’ve giving my vote to Daichi Kamada as my player of the year. The Frankfurt attacking midfielder is the club’s highest goalscorer across all competitions this season, was the second highest goalscorer across all competitions last season, and has played a pivitol role in both Franfkurt’s Europa League title last season and Frankfurt’s qualification out of their UCL group this season. He’s been a lot of fun to watch and, more importantly, has only 6 months left on his contract...
Sean: Niclas Füllkrug
I could have gone with Nkunku here, but I think Füllkrug also deserves a lot of plaudits. Werder Bremen arrived fresh from the 2. Bundesliga, and Füllkrug has helped them not only survive in the Bundesliga, but thrive. Werder currently sit in ninth place in the Bundesliga, and Füllkrug’s 12 goals are a big reason for that. His success is a big reason why he became a late contender to make the German National Team at the World Cup.