After a commanding 4-0 victory against Bundesliga rivals Bayer Leverkusen last Saturday, many fans would’ve thought this result would’ve been the catalyst for a change in fortune and results for the last game of the season.
However, in a game where Dortmund could’ve confirmed a place in Europe for next season with a win, a mediocre 1-1 draw against mid-table Werder Bremen yesterday shows that perhaps the tides haven’t turned in the Dortmund waters just yet.
Whilst Dortmund may have been unlucky with some of their chances they had in the game, in particular, Reus’ one-on-one and Sancho’s close-range header in the second half, the better teams still manage to grind out results even in difficult away games like with Bremen. The North-western side haven’t lost since October with a 3-0 defeat against FC Augsburg.
Nevertheless, Dortmund will take great inspiration in their performance with plenty of chances and unlucky blocks just not falling there way. Below I take a look at their player ratings out of 10 with many strong showings from the starting Dortmund XI:
GK: Roman Burki – 6
A relatively easy performance for the Swiss international, but there were occasions when he was called upon and delivered the goods for his side which admittedly he has struggled with on occasions this season.
But he stepped up for his side, particularly early on in the second half where his side could’ve gone behind had Burki not stayed focused so an improved performance from the 27-year-old.
RB: Lukasz Piszczek – 7
A strong performance from the typically reliable full-back and today was no exception as the Polish international worked tirelessly at both ends of the field. He had the challenge of facing a rapid Milot Rashica (who’s 11 years younger than him), but he dealt with the speedy winger superbly and resulted in the Kosovan international actually being substituted midway through the second-half.
Piszczek himself was unlucky not to be on the scoresheet as well had it not been for brilliant defending from the Bremen goalkeeper Jiri Pavlenka and his back-four but would’ve signified a much-improved performance from the 33-year-old in recent weeks.
CB: Sokratis – 7
A real sturdy performance from Sokratis is what’s expected from the Greek international and really showed what a great defender he can be in this game. This tough ‘brick-wall’ defending shows why there have a number of rumoured suitors for the 29-year-old with the heaviest link in the last few days coming from English giants Arsenal, who are rumoured to be ‘on the verge of £17.5m transfer.’
Appearing to be carrying a potential ankle injury throughout the game as well shows what a warrior Sokratis is in this team and how important he can be at his best with many fans hoping the stalwart will stay for a little while longer.
CB: Omer Toprak – 8
Toprak is another player who clearly makes a difference to this Dortmund side but out of all four defenders starting, he was the most impressive.
What was most impressive was the way he would win the ball back and look to break through the defence/midfield line and play through his forwards which the Turkey international achieved on numerous occasions.
As well as being a rock at the back, Toprak could’ve won his side all three points had it not been for a correct decision to disallow his goal for offside but would’ve been what he deserved after a brilliant showing against Bremen.
LB: Manuel Akanji – 8
Another much-improved performance from another Dortmund defender today, Akanji’s performance today was arguably his best in a Dortmund shirt since joining from Swiss side FC Basel in January.
The 22-year-old looks much more comfortable with his ball-playing style of play and was able to venture forward much more than usual and actually looked a real threat for Dortmund when attacking.
His performance was so impressive yesterday that it’s possible he could see himself slide into that left-back slot and make a name for himself there rather than as a centre-half because he was that impressive on the left-hand side of defence today.
CDM: Julian Weigl – 7
A player who has been in and out of the side this season which would’ve surprised many Dortmund fans who consider Weigl to one of the best defensive midfielders at the club… They would be right.
It was evident against Bremen that he provides that defensive cover that not many of Dortmund midfielders can offer and his ability to do this allows his defenders more time to relax and be more comfortable when playing out from the back.
Weigl makes a difference in this side and needs to be starting more games more often if Dortmund are to get back to their best next season.
RM: Christian Pulisic – 6
A relatively quiet performance from the young American who’s been one of Dortmund star performers all season but just couldn’t seem to find his feet in this game.
He came up against Ludwig Augustinsson who played exceptionally and at the same sort of level in terms of hard-work and ability to get up and down the field as Piszczek on the other side for Dortmund.
That’s not to say Pulisic didn’t have an influence on the game as there were moments when the 19-year-old would show glimpses of magic bit just not for extended periods of the game.
So after such a great season so far, Pulisic could be forgiven for one average game after being very impressive for a majority of this season.
CAM: Mario Gotze – 6
Götze’s a strange one as one week he’ll look the same brilliant player he did when he first broke into this Dortmund team but in others, he’ll be nowhere near as influential as he has been or could be in game such as this one today.
Similar to Pulisic today, he came up against Danish international Thomas Delaney who had just had returned from suspension for this game and not only scored his side’s equaliser but, looked to revitalise this Bremen side into a very good performance yesterday.
If Gotze can rediscover his previous form that saw him as one of the best young prospects in the world, then he (like Pulisic) could be a real difference-maker in this Dortmund side, it’s just down to him because we all know he has the ability.
CAM: Marco Reus – 7
Talking of making a difference in this Dortmund side, Reus has been doing this for years now and his performance against Bremen was just another case of this.
A brilliant opener to put Dortmund ahead in this game with a stunning first-time volley which flew into the back of net in a flash is just symbolic of his ability and influence that he has when he plays regularly for Dortmund.
With 6 goals in 9 Bundesliga game since coming back from injury just shows how much he helps this side going forward, could this late form call for a potential late call-up to Germany World Cup squad in Russia?
LM: Jadon Sancho – 7
After his Man of the Match showing last time out against Bayer Leverkusen with Sancho becoming the first Englishman to score for Borussia Dortmund along with two assists to his name in that game, all eyes were on the youngster going into this one.
But, although he played well in the last 25 minutes well and started to get more involved in the game, up until this point the 18-year-old was relatively quiet up until that point.
However, when he did get more involved you can see why he’s so highly regarded as he started to tear the Bremen back-line apart and should’ve scored his second goal in as many matches but missed a point-blank header from close range which should’ve won them the game.
But Sancho has to move on from this now and keep on working hard to earn himself a starting place in this Dortmund side next season.
ST: Maximillian Phillipp – 6
Phillipp has been impressive in recent weeks and has an extended run in the starting line-up which has helped him to pick up where he left off that impressive form back at SC Freiburg last season.
But in this game, although he had moments where he looked threatening to the Bremen defence, he was pretty quiet all-in-all.
Whilst Bremen played well defensively, perhaps adding another striker supporting Phillipp would’ve helped the 24-year-old be more of an influence and helped the team find that winning goal there were desperate for towards the end of the game.
Unfortunately for Phillipp, he was substituted before he was able to make any more of a difference as he was replaced by Andriy Yarmolenko on the 79-minute mark but he will look to improve on his performance for the final game of the Bundesliga season.
Andre Schurrle (Christian Pulisic) – 7
The former Chelsea man was heavily involved in his side late push for a winner against Bremen and was arguably unlucky not to seal all three points for Dortmund.
This came after seeing his one-on-one effort tipped onto the post by the impressive Pavlenka who kept the home side in the game with a string of good saves.
A really impressive performance from the German and definitely asks questions to manager Peter Stoger as to whether he deserves to start in the final game of the season.
Andriy Yarmolenko (Maximillian Philipp) – 6
A much quieter performance from the Ukrainian who has been out for a majority of the calendar year with a foot injury and is only just starting to return now.
This perhaps could be the reason why Yarmolenko wasn’t as involved as he usually is and is still finding his feet again after three months away from the football pitch.
But, once the 28-year-old is back fully-fit there is no reason why he can’t be fighting for the starting winger spot which was rightfully his at the start of the Bundesliga season.
So a contrasting feeling after this 1-1 draw with Bremen furthering their unbeaten run at home as they continue to fight for their place in the top tier of German football and look ahead to their penultimate game against Bayer Leverkusen on Saturday.
Dortmund meanwhile, will be disappointed that they didn’t make the most of their opportunities in the game in their late push for European football. They’ll have to put all this behind them though as they focus their attention to their final game of the season against FSV Mainz next Saturday.