Dortmund end 2023 just like they ended 2022: with a sad, miserable whimper. Despite taking the lead early through a wonderful Brandt freekick, Edin Terzic’s men conceded on a corner kick just before the half and completely stuttered in the second half. Once again, Dortmund’s buildup was totally neutralized by some simple pressing and the side was forced to commit sideways passes and longballs into the team’s wingers. You could tell the pressure was on the side this game: the Yellow Wall held a dynamic birthday tifo and there was a sense of nervousness amongst the players and staff. Unfortunately, they did disappoint and ended the year without a win across the entirety of December’s 6 games. Even more jarring is that Dortmund holds a 43% win rate in the Bundesliga and only one of the side’s seven wins came after October.
It is impossible to imagine the team is not going to experience some sort of change by the time the Bundesliga resumes in January but who knows what that change will look like. Will Terzic leave? Will Kehl be jettisoned into space by Watzke and Sammer? Will Marco Reus be sent to the glue factory? Only time will tell.
Regardless, here are the MOTM candidates after Dortmund’s 1-1 draw against Mainz.
Brandt looked far from his usual, dynamic, playmaking self. Much of that, however, comes down to the traffic cones he has to call teammates. Despite this, Brandt still notched up a goal from Dortmund’s best freekick since Paco Alcacer’s goal against Augsburg some three seasons ago. He created a team-high five chances, completed 44 of his 48 passes, and was terrific on set pieces. Fortunately, Julian Brandt signed a contract extension before the Terzic hit the fan and he is stuck with us for a while.
The one good thing about Dortmund’s past two months is that Jamie Bynoe-Gittens has been able to establish himself more within this squad. He has not hit the ground running like Jadon Sancho but this English winger continues to impress in his dribbling abilities. Within 10 minutes of today’s match, JBG had a wonderful strike knock off the underside of the frame and looked like Dortmund’s most threatening attacker for large swathes of his 63-minute appearance. The 19-year-old had 51 touches, 5 successful dribbles and an expected goals + assist of 0.46. While these are all stats without any goals to show for them, I thought this was also his most mature performance for Dortmund. He seemed smarter in both his dribbling and passing in addition to taking fewer boneheaded shots.
Making his return to the starting lineup, Sabitzer put on a solid performance shuttling the ball up and down the field. He showcased where he fits into this team - as a point of connection between the disjointed defense and disjointed offense. It is probably not his preferred role due to how far back he is, but he did a solid job cutting through Mainz’s midfield. Sabitzer even played his role in Dortmund’s only goal after winning a foul in front of the Mainz goal. In matches as disappointing as these, ‘a solid job’ earns you a place as a nominee for MOTM.
I have no doubt that Can will get a lot of flack for this game. He is perceived as one of ‘Terzic’s men’ and often an epitome of what's wrong at the club. Today, however, he had a fairly good game. Involved in a team-high 15 duels, Emre Can managed to win 10 of them including 4/5 aerial duels. He also had a team-leading nine passes into the final third. A solid display the from captain in an otherwise disappointing team performance.
Who was your MOTM
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