Though Dortmund had a little trouble going forward in February, the team tightened up at the back to keep the momentum of a great season going. Heading through in the DFB Pokal and Europa League put the icing on a cake made up of solid Bundesliga form.
That’s right, after being heavily criticised in much of the Hinrunde our captain has claimed consecutive #YWPPOTM awards.
Acting more conservatively in defence as a team, there isn’t as much of an onus on Hummels to make decisive challenges or go into risky duels, helping him cut the mistakes out of his game recently. An upturn in form began in December, but he has just gotten better ever since with BVB allowing him to take more and more command of the game.
The questionable form of Julian Weigl has seen a number of alternatives used in holding midfield, and Hummels has taken more responsibility in the build-up play as a result. Another shift from Thomas Tuchel has changed things, with Marcel Schmelzer almost playing left-midfield at times and allowing Hummels even more space to create attacks from the left-hand side of the defence. In the past this could leave BVB exposed, but the right-back (normally Lukasz Piszczek) has been instructed to play deeper in these situations, so no spaces are left uncovered. The game where this tactic was most obvious came in the superb first leg against FC Porto, where Nuri Sahin added stability in the middle of the park and Hummels exploited his new role expertly.
By covering space more evenly with some asymmetry across the defence, Tuchel has cut out Hummels’ errors and is allowing the captain to flourish even more then ever with the ball at his feet.
If Mats can continue his post-November form, the Schwarzgelben have a superb chance to run through the last three months of the season on a high.
First place: Mats Hummels It took an outstanding month to pip Mkhitaryan for the honours, and the skipper produced just that. I don’t think he put a foot wrong once in his six games in February. His performance in the first leg against Porto was probably his best since the World Cup quarter-finals against France. It’s so good to see Hummels finding his mojo again.
Second place: Henrikh Mkhitaryan I don’t really know what’s left to say about Mkhitaryan. I’ll keep it short: he’s not from this planet.
Third place: Roman Bürki February was easily the strongest month for the Switzerland international since joining Dortmund. Apart from a blunder at the weekend – which he made up for with two saves later in the game – he was excellent all month and a big reason Dortmund conceded only two goals in seven games.
First place: Mats Hummels He was voted the best looking Bundesliga player, so since this a very important and not at all shallow vote, he tops my list. (He also played heavenly football throughout the entire month.)
Second place: Henrikh Mkhitaryan Out of all the highly talented players in Dortmund’s midfield he sticks out the most. Magictaryan is providing the magic since Tuchel decided it was time for a more balanced approach with fewer players supporting Dortmund’s attack.
Third place: Lukasz Piszczek Defensive stability you say? The right-back is a big part of that. His work-rate is amazing and it is simply good to see the Pole back in form after an extended rough patch that followed the surgery after the Champions League final.
First place: Nuri Şahin He is back!
Second place: Henrikh Mkhitaryan Whenever Dortmund are struggling to break through an opponent’s defence, they can turn to this man. The BVB attack was at stalemate in some of their last matches, but remained dangerous thanks to Henrikh Mkhitaryan who is not particularly strong at one aspect of the attacking game, but has a wide variety of skills which make him versatile and unpredictable.
Third place: Mats Hummels Like last month, Hummels is my number three. The 26-year-old is the backbone of the team. He has consistently performed at a high level, being jointly responsible for Dortmund’s improvement in defence. A healthy, in-form Hummels can make the defenders alongside him better, and stabilise the whole team.
First place: Mats Hummels The German international is fully back to his old self and has been Dortmund’s best and most consistent defender as well as build up player this month.
Second place: Henrikh Mkhitaryan He doesn’t seem to get tired. He’s hardly getting a rest and still performs for 90 minutes on the highest level every single game, as well as continue scoring and assisting important goals.
Third place: Lukasz Piszczek This might seem like a long shot but Piszczek seems to have overcome his hip injury or at least knows how to play through it. He’s earned his place back and defended it from Matthias Ginter. And rightfully so.
First place: Henrikh Mkhitaryan I think we’ve all accepted that the Europa League and DFB Pokal are our best shots at silverware this season, right? Well February saw Miki involved in all three goals against Porto and continued his streak of scoring in every round of the cup with a late goal to seal a nervous win against VfB Stuttgart. In the league he’s been great too, breaking deadlocks against a stubborn Hannover 96 and equalising against a smart TSG Hoffenheim side. When Dortmund have looked poor going forward, the Armenian’s high standards haven’t wobbled. That’s impressive.
Second place: Mats Hummels What a few months for the captain. He may be the more obvious vote for first place thanks to a marked improvement in his game but, in truth, this current form is what I expect of him. On his day Mats is one of the most intelligent passers of a ball in football and one of the finest too. Thankfully, he’s having his day every week at the moment.
Third place: Nuri Sahin Welcome back, Nuri! If there’s anything to say about Sahin and his return, Stefan has already said it. I’ll just add that I am absolutely delighted.
— Florian (@FloTo09) February 29, 2016
Hummels – he’s been outstanding in the Rückrunde. Honorable mentions for Micky and Illy. #YWPPOTM
— BVB Buffalo (@BVB_Buffalo) February 29, 2016
— Laurin (@LaurinHDo) February 29, 2016
— Yana (@Aiyana_anayiA) February 29, 2016