The midfielder has been constantly burdened with injuries, not necessarily to the midfielders themselves, but because the defenders’ countless injuries have caused Emre Can and Axel Witsel to spend half their minutes in the back row instead. from their preferred position.
If the players have been in constant rotation, so have the formations. Marco Rose’s favorite formation was a 4-1-2-1-2 with a traditional “midfield diamond”: a pair of box-to-box midfielders with a traditional No.6 as the only midfielder. defensive ground. Sometimes Rose would abandon this setup in favor of a 4-2-3-1 or a 5-3-2, depending mainly on the players available.
The midfielder has seen incredible highs and incredible lows during the season. Vs Bayern Munich, Marco Rose’s diamond was at its best. It took him less than five minutes to open up Bayern’s defense. Just look at how BVB managed to overload Bayern’s right wing and force them to collapse, before Jude Bellingham changed the game into a wide-open Julian Brandt darting from the opposite side of the formation:
Even though BVB lost the game, the result could hardly be blamed on the midfielder. Unfortunately, with such highs came the lows. Against Ajax in Amsterdam, BVB could barely make three passes. In a system where full-backs attack so often, midfielders would often be forced to move around to cover them, which too often would have dire consequences … but I’ll get to that point in a moment.
Let’s break down the performance of each player.
Note: I have chosen to include Julian Brandt and Marco Reus in the attacking review, because although both have appeared in midfield at various times, they are mostly attackers.
This one hurts. I really like Axel Witsel. Everyone’s favorite Afro-sporting midfielder has been an anchor in the BVB midfielder for years, but sadly those days are over. Between his 32 years (33 next week) and his Achilles tendon injury last season, Witsel has lost just about any pace he once had. I could get poetic about how time waits for no one or do something really pretentious like comparing Witsel to the statue of Ozymandias, but I think you get the idea.
The bottom line is that Axel Witsel cannot play in Marco Rose’s system. Position # 6 already requires a ton of stamina and the ability to cover a lot of ground quickly. In Rose’s favorite midfield diamond, where full-backs need to play high to provide breadth, the No.6 needs to be able to fall into the back row at any time or drift wide to cover a full full back. He seems to be very often caught out of position and no longer has the capacity to catch up. When he entered the baseline, as he was against Hertha Berlin, the results were downright disastrous. I feel bad for him because he always clearly gives 100% effort, but too often the quality just isn’t there.
I have the impression that the BVB coaches used Witsel a lot more than they would like. He clearly sits behind Dahoud, Bellingham, and possibly even Emre Can in the depths chart. Unfortunately, a constant barrage of injuries has meant that Witsel has often been the only healthy midfielder capable of playing CDM. This means he played more minutes than expected; nearly 1700 minutes in all competitions. In a sense, Witsel fell victim to his own good health.
The front office has made it clear that it will let Axel Witsel go this summer and that he is actively looking for a potential replacement for Denis Zakaria. I think it’s better for both parties.
Rating: D +
If there’s one player who makes me want to bang my head against a rock, it’s Emre Can. Coincidentally, he often plays like It is the one who banged his head against a rock.
Okay, that was mean. But beneath my ridiculous hyperbole lies the reality that Emre Can, despite not playing a ton of minutes in the first half of the season, made a seemingly endless cavalcade of colossal mistakes, some of which are which occurred during the biggest BVB games. For example, in BVB’s biggest defeat of the first half of the season, against Ajax, Emre Can came onto the pitch to replace Nico Schulz just to stop the bleeding, and ended up being absolutely posted on Anthony.
On Ajax’s fourth goal he dropped the ball again, this time remaining virtually inactive as Sebastian Haller climbed through the air to direct the ball into the net on a cross. Against Sporting, Can momentarily lost his temper in Pedro Porro after the Spain winger committed a late foul, which earned him a red card. Even though the call was sweet, there was still no need for Can to pop his cover like he did. These are just a few of his biggest mistakes – he’s also prone to occasional reckless spins on a short base pass.
To be fair, Can wasn’t that bad. Unlike Witsel, he covers a lot of ground. Despite a few high-profile cases against Sporting, Ajax and Hertha where he has retreated from challenges, he is still one of the players most likely to dive headlong into a challenge. If he could just control himself a bit better and limit turnovers, he could still be an effective player for Dortmund.
So I was writing my analysis of Dahoud, and in doing so, I decided, mainly for memes, to turn again to the most ardent but elusive Mahmoud Dahoud fan of Fear the Wall, which I have already done. hinted in many articles.
The second half of the 2020/2021 season saw everyone’s favorite mustached midfielder break into Dortmund’s starting XI, as he emerged as one of the squad’s most important players at the both in UCL and in the Bundesliga. However, much like Jaws: The Revenge, this season so far has been a disappointing sequel to a story fans have loved. Although the reigning FTW midfielder of the season has shown glimpses of his best under Rose, injuries and an insane red card have left him sidelined for much of the campaign.
It is obvious that he still has the talent he showed under Terzic and the team look better when he is in good health. But if Dortmund are to succeed in the second half of the season, it will be important for Dahoud to become a regular player at the level we have grown used to last season. In the meantime, much to the dismay of the Dahoud Fan Club, he will continue to play in the shadow of Bellingham.
Who is he? Nobody knows. I mean, yeah, but … shut up.
I don’t have enough superlatives to describe Jude Bellingham. The kid is absolutely world class, and by the age of 18 he will only get better. Much better. I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s considered one of the top five players in the world as he enters his prime.
Bellingham excels in virtually every aspect of the game. He is arguably BVB’s best midfielder on the ball and can apparently carry the ball from in front of the back line to the edge of the opponents’ penalty area. He can single-handedly protect the ball from two or three midfielders at a time before choosing a quick pass. His contributions to final goals are good, with three goals and eight assists in 21 matches in the Bundesliga and Champions League.
Just look at that absurd goal he scored against Bielefeld.
It’s Messi-esque. The child is unreal.
Discipline issues are … a problem. Obviously. His five yellow cards earned him a one-game suspension that saw him miss the last game of half-time against Hertha Berlin. His post-game antics as a result Der Klassiker shows a lack of maturity, although many BVB fans will agree with his post.
Sure, he might have some discipline issues, but I’m sure as he gets older he will overcome them. He’s a great player and I love being able to support him every week.
What would you give to each BVB player? Let me know your thoughts below.