Mario Gotze 3/10, Marco Reus 4/10 as Borussia Dortmund attack sputters
Borussia Dortmund escaped with three points in Bruges on Tuesday night in the Champions League, as Christian Pulisic's stroke of luck handed his team a 1-0 win over Club Brugge.
The German outfit had two-thirds of possession throughout the game but in the first half, it were the hosts who had the dangerous moments. After 20 minutes, Marco Reus was forced to make a spectacular goal-line clearance after chaos had ensued off a set piece. Just five minutes later, Roman Burki needed to stretch his whole body to keep Arnaut Danjuma's shot from the edge of the box out of the right corner of the goal.
Lucien Favre made four changes to the starting lineup, including Mario Gotze, but the team overall lacked creative spark as there was too little movement to trouble the Belgian outfit.
In the end, it was a lucky deflection for birthday boy Pulisic, who stuck a leg out as defender Matej Mitrovic wanted to clear the ball out of his own penalty area. The ball bounced off the substitute's leg over goalkeeper Karlo Letico into the net.
Dortmund stole three points in Bruges. If they go on to qualify for the round of 16, nobody will ask about the details.
BVB did not create a single scoring chance out of open play. Julian Weigl and Axel Witsel were breathing the same air in holding midfield, Gotze was falling over his own feet, while Reus was stuck in centre-forward purgatory. Jadon Sancho was on an unsuccessful ego-spree while Marius Wolf's feet had somehow transformed into Belgium waffles. Favre said that he will keep the rotations going until the next international break but that will mean the club will continue to struggle as not much is clicking for them.
Manager rating out of 10
3 -- Favre needs to go back to the drawing board as there was not much chemistry in the starting XI he chose.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Roman Burki, 6 -- While Reus' goal-line clearance was arguably the biggest save of the night, Burki's shot out of the right corner of the goal was quite spectacular as well.
DF Lukasz Piszczek, 6 -- Apart from two irritating passes to opponents, Piszczek used all of his experience to keep things under control.
DF Manuel Akanji, 7 -- Handled Bruge's imposing striker Wesley well and showed a tidy defensive performance.
DF Abdou Diallo, 7 -- Was very alert against Brugge's centre-forward Jelle Vossen and nearly scored the opener before the half-hour mark on a set-piece.
DF Marcel Schmelzer, 6 -- Was left out in the cold by Sancho far too often and had to defend a lot by himself. Considering that he had a difficult night, he did very well.
MF Julian Weigl, 5 -- An average performance by Weigl, who played his first match of the season after overcoming an injury. He did not look comfortable in midfield next to Witsel.
MF Axel Witsel, 6 -- The Belgium international was not as much in control as he had been in recent game. Though it was hard to be in control when very few of his teammates wanted to have the ball while opponents pressed. The overall positional play was poor and it had a poor impact on all midfielders.
MF Jadon Sancho, 3 -- Hardly any defensive commitment, some dangerous unforced errors and the unfathomable will to take on the world all by himself and failing. Not a good game on any level by the 18-year-old.
MF Mario Gotze, 3 -- When Gotze plays on the No. 10 position he looks like a former All-Star in a farewell match. The good ideas and technique is there but the dynamic is entirely lacking. He was subbed off in the 60th minute, arguably 15 minutes too late.
MF Marius Wolf, 4 -- At least made some meaningful contributions in defence unlike English counterpart Sancho.
FW Marco Reus, 4 -- Playing Reus as a centre-forward is asinine because he needs space to run in. His poor form arguably doesn't help.
MF Shinji Kagawa, 5 -- Within minutes, the Japanese midfielder had more dangerous situations than Gotze in an hour. Though they did not quite come off as there was always a Belgium leg in between.
MF Christian Pulisic, 6 -- Pulisic, who turned 20 on Tuesday, couldn't have asked for a better present. Playing in his 100th professional game for Borussia Dortmund in his return from injury, the U.S. international had all the luck on his side.
MF Mahmoud Dahoud, NR -- As fortunate as Dortmund's winner was, Dahoud's excellent through ball provoked Mitrovic's ill-timed clearance. A pass he played with the outside of his right boot just a minute after being on the field.