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Match Ratings: Donyell Malen Leads BVB to 3-0 Win Against Freiburg

BVB shut down Freiburg for one of the club’s most convincing wins of the season.

Borussia Dortmund v SC Freiburg - Bundesliga Photo by Hesham Elsherif/Anadolu via Getty Images

With multiple key players returning, and playing in front of a home crowd, Borussia Dortmund looked much improved as they ran away with a 3-0 win against Freiburg on Friday night.

Donyell Malen opened the scoring early in the game, firing a shot perfectly into the top corner from just inside the penalty area, and he doubled Dortmund’s lead just before halftime, perfectly placing Niclas Füllkrug’s through ball, his second assist of the night, into the far corner. BVB were dominant throughout the game and easily could have scored a couple more in the second half, with multiple great opportunities not quite finding their way into the net. It took a phenomenal in-swinging cross from Ian Maatsen, which was headed home by Füllkrug for Dortmund’s third, to put the game to bed.

Dortmund are now level on points with Stuttgart, trailing them only by goal difference, but the three points ensure that BVB will stay in fourth place for another week, with RB Leipzig behind them by four points.

Here are our ratings from BVB’s 3-0 win against Freiburg.

Starting XI

Gregor Kobel

Paul: 6

Zac: 6

A quiet return to the squad after being out sick. Kobel had little to do, but fielded a few long efforts with ease.

Sean: 6

Ian Maatsen

Paul: 7

Maatsen wasn’t BVB’s best player against Freiburg, which makes this a relative decline for the Dutch full-back, but he was still pretty good, and the cross for BVB’s third goal was unreal. He continues to prove that he was exactly what Dortmund was missing.

Zac: 7

I really enjoy watching Ian Maatsen shift into different roles on the pitch. Depending on where Dortmund have possession, he either provides a wide body as a outlet ball, or tucks in to congest the midfield and give BVB extra numbers in the buildup. Very neat.

Sean: 7

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that BVB have looked so much better since Maatsen came to the squad. His ability on the ball means that Dortmund can actually progress the ball up the flank, which means that opposing teams can no longer rely on clogging the midfield and watching Dortmund’s defenders try to hoof long balls up the pitch.

Nico Schlotterbeck

Borussia Dortmund v Sport-Club Freiburg - Bundesliga Photo by Frederic Scheidemann/Getty Images

Paul: 7

Zac: 8

Probably Schlotterbeck’s best game of 2024 thus far. He was aware, strong in the tackle, and shook off some of the recklessness we have seen in recent games. Definitely his best performance of the season when deployed next to Niklas Süle.

Sean: 8

Niklas Süle

Paul: 6

Zac: 7

Similarly to Schlotterbeck, Süle sharpened up for this match. Dortmund’s center-back duo have been under fire in recent matches, but they have only conceded one goal in 2024.

Sean: 7

I consider this match more evidence that, given time to actually gel with the squad, Süle is absolutely part of the solution to the problem of replacing Mats Hummels.

Julian Ryerson

Paul: 7

Zac: 7

What a breath of fresh air to see Julian Ryerson back on the pitch. His tenacity is unmatched by any other player in black and yellow, and after a few minutes to settle, he looked right back on the pace. Dortmund have been incredibly lucky with Ryerson’s consistency.

Sean: 6

He got off to a bit of a slow start, but eventually showed what an upgrade he is over Thomas Meunier.

Emre Can

Paul: 7

Zac: 7

Can was an upgrade on Özcan in this match, which has no always been true this season. He helped maintain possession and progress the ball more efficiently than Özcan, but I’m still not convinced Can shields the defense as well as his Turkish counterpart.

Sean: 7

Marcel Sabitzer

Paul: 6

Zac: 6

Sean: 7

I really appreciated the way that he drove through midfield and hit Füllkrug with a pass to set up Malen’s first goal.

Jamie Bynoe-Gittens

Paul: 6

Zac: 6

Sean: 5

Donyell Malen

Borussia Dortmund v Sport-Club Freiburg - Bundesliga Photo by Leon Kuegeler/Getty Images

Paul: 9

Malen’s two goals were fantastic, but he was excellent outside of that as well.

Zac: 9

Welcome back, Rückrunde Man. Next season, Dortmund should just freeze Malen like Dr. Evil, and then thaw him out in January.

Sean: 9

Almost a 10. He was, as the kids say, cooking. Not only did he score two beautiful goals, but he almost set up numerous other chances that his teammates unfortunately couldn’t finish.

Marco Reus

Paul: 6

Zac: 7

It would have been easy to overlook Marco Reus’s influence on his return to the number 10 spot. Without any goals or assists, even Fotmob gave him the lowest rating on the pitch. But despite a few gaffes in front of goal, Reus quietly linked the defense and attack, taking significant burden away from the holding mids. When he wasn’t on the ball, his movement in the attacking zones helped create space for other players to exploit.

Sean: 6

He unfortunately missed a few shots that, while maybe not sitters, could easily have been goals.

Niclas Füllkrug

Borussia Dortmund v SC Freiburg - Bundesliga Photo by Hesham Elsherif/Anadolu via Getty Images

Paul: 8

Füllkrug has now contributed 10 goals and 7 assists for BVB this season. Despite a vocal minority of the fanbase consistently doubting Füllkrug’s quality, he continues to deliver. Donyell Malen did a lot of the work on his goals, but Füllkrug deserves credit for giving him the ball, and he deserved his goal in the final minutes of the game.

Zac: 8

You have to wonder if an injury-free Füllkrug in a Dortmund team of year gone by (maybe 2019) could have really been a world-beater. The support cast around Fülle showed in the first half of the season that they did not know how to get him the ball. He has scored goals anyway, and even adapted his game to accommodate the bozos around him.

Sean: 8

Füllkrug did everything that you want from your striker. He held the ball up, distributed properly, and pitched in a classic target man header. As the internet has said many times, the man is a “propa number nine.”

Substitutes

Julian Brandt

Paul: 6

Zac: 6

Sean: 6

Marius Wolf

Paul: 6

Zac: 6

Actually looked the part during his short cameo. Bring back late-sub Wolf!

Sean: 6

Mateu Morey

N/A

Borussia Dortmund v Sport-Club Freiburg - Bundesliga Photo by Hendrik Deckers/Borussia Dortmund via Getty Images

Mats Hummels

N/A

Jadon Sancho

N/A

Overall

Paul: 8

Dortmund were dominant in victory on Friday night, against a Freiburg side that you would expect to make life very difficult. BVB looked like they belong in the top four, which hasn’t been the case for much of this season. I’m not going to get ahead of myself, but the performance against Freiburg was a step in the right direction.

Zac: 8

For large parts of the game against Freiburg, Dortmund were actually playing football; dominant, considered, and intelligent football. It has been a bit since Dortmund were really considered “in control” of a match, and despite the victories in January, this was the first game day where Dortmund looked like they were doing their business.

We learned from this match that Terzic’s preferred 4-3-3/4-2-3-1 formation is the way to go for BVB, as the personnel are not suited to a 4-4-2. We also learned that fielding a strong team helps to win games. While both the formation and the squad in previous matches were essentially out of Terzic’s control, the team showed that with the right players on the field and a winning attitude, this squad can actually command a game. Repeatability is the major challenge facing Terzic and his coaching staff as the caliber of opponents begins to tick upward in the coming weeks.

Sean: 8

Freiburg have been quite a solid team this season, so this was by no means an easy win against a weak opponent. Everything was clicking as it should; Süle and Schlotterbeck were calm in possession, Emre Can didn’t do anything dumb, Maatsen and Ryerson were the dynamic full-backs we’ve desperately needed for months, Füllkrug held the ball up well, and Donyell Malen was direct and dangerous. If BVB have a blueprint for future success this season, this game was it.

Your Thoughts?

What do you think of our ratings? Let me know your thoughts?