Adam Darowski takes a closer look at Dortmund’s statistical leaders of the 2016/2017 season. Some you may have guessed and some you may have not.
Any football fan can tell you who Borussia Dortmund’s top scorer was this past season. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang famously stole the Torjägerkanone from Robert Lewandowski on the season’s final matchday, finishing with 31 goals. Most fans can also tell you who led the club in assists after watching another young Frenchman’s enticing crosses targeting Aubameyang all season. Ousmane Dembélé was the top provider for the black and yellows, contributing 12 assists (or 13, according to Transfermarkt).
I’ve only recently started following football after obsessing over baseball statistics for over 25 years. To me, the goal and assist leaders are a bit like the home run and runs batted in leaders. They tell you something that happened and they are heavily celebrated, but they certainly don’t tell you the whole story. The run batted in tells you who knocked in the run, but it doesn’t tell you who reached base in the first place or who went from first to third on that ground ball to get himself 90 feet from home plate. In football, the goal tells you who put the ball in the net and the assist tells you who had possession of the ball before the scorer. But they don’t tell you who sent that long-ball into the corner to cue up the assist or who made the bone-crunching tackle to gain possession in the first place.
Who led the Dortmund squad in successful passes? How about tackles and interceptions? Who drew the most fouls? Who committed the most? I plan to dig into these today in order to uncover the club’s less celebrated stars.
- Ousmane Dembélé (7.44)
- Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (7.42)
- Marc Bartra (7.24)
- Sokratis Papastathopoulos (7.21)
- Raphaël Guerreiro (7.18)
The WhoScored.com rating is a complex calculation of a player’s overall performance.
“WhoScored.com Ratings are based on a unique, comprehensive statistical algorithm, calculated live during the game. There are over 200 raw statistics included in the calculation of a player’s/team’s rating, weighted according to their influence within the game. Every event of importance is taken into account, with a positive or negative effect on ratings weighted in relation to its area on the pitch and its outcome.”
In this case, the players who lead the team in goals and assists bubble up to the top again, with Dembélé narrowly beating Aubameyang. But a pair of defenders come next, with Marc Bartra (perhaps somewhat surprisingly) finding himself just ahead of our Papa, Sokratis. Guerreiro’s all-around performance in his first Bundesliga season places him in the Top 5.
Squawka Performance Score
- Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (1072)
- Ousmane Dembélé (827)
- Sokratis Papastathopoulos (749)
- Julian Weigl (732)
- Raphaël Guerreiro (613)
The WhoScored rating is a rate statistic, meaning it assesses performance on a per-match basis. Squawka has their own performance score. It is a cumulative statistic, which means it is the sum of a player’s scores across all of his matches. It uses similar inputs to WhoScored, but is expressed differently.
The Performance Score is a measure of a player’s ability to positively influence a game of football. The more positive influence you have on the ball, the higher your Performance Score. The more negative influence, the lower your performance score. The Performance Score is an advanced algorithm that takes every recorded on-ball action on the football pitch, evaluates its outcome, pitch co-ordinates, playing position of the player and the preceding event.
The Squawka and WhoScored lists feature four of the same five players. Julian Weigl appears on the Squawka list while Marc Bartra appears on the WhoScored list. It makes sense that we see Weigl ranking well on the cumulative metric as he played over 850 more Bundesliga minutes than Bartra. But on a per-minute basis, WhoScored believes Bartra was more effective.
One nice thing about the Squawka score is that the points are divided in three categories—Attack, Defense, and Possession. Here are the top three players in each.
- Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (1143)
- Ousmane Dembélé (778)
- Marco Reus (395)
- Julian Weigl (372)
- Sokratis Papastathopoulos (295)
- Marcel Schmelzer (243)
- Matthias Ginter (314)
- Sokratis Papastathopoulos (299)
- Julian Weigl (282)
You may have noticed that Auba’s Attack component is actually higher than his overall rating. That’s because his defensive score is quite low (38) and his possession contribution is actually negative (–110), What Julian Weigl and Sokratis don’t provide in attack they clearly make up for in defense and with possession (ranking in the top three in both categories).
Total accurate passes
- Matthias Ginter (1872)
- Julian Weigl (1815)
- Sokratis Papastathopoulos (1691)
Personally, I expected Weigl to top this list. Ginter beats him not only on a aggregate basis, but on a per-game basis as well (64.6 accurate passes per game to 60.5). In fact, on a per-game basis, Marc Bartra even placed ahead of Weigl (with 61.1), but nobody on the club could match Sokratis’ 65.1 accurate passes per game.
- Joo-Ho Park (93.3%)
- Sven Bender (93.0%)
- Felix Passlack (89.6%)
- Julian Weigl (89.5%)
- Sebastian Rode (88.9%)
- Nuri Şahin (88.0%)
- Sokratis Papastathopoulos (87.8%)
- Matthias Ginter (87.2%)
I went eight-deep on this list because most of the players didn’t have much game time. Only three players—Weigl, Sokratis, and Ginter—had more than 600 minutes (and all three exceeded 2,000). Of course, one must remember that defenders (and defensive midfielders) dominate this list because it is easier to make an accurate pass in your own end. Shinji Kagawa (85.3%) is next on the list and his percentage might be the most impressive of all.
Total key passes
- Ousmane Dembélé (63)
- Gonzalo Castro (42)
- Shinji Kagawa (35)
The most key passes (or, “the final pass leading to a shot at goal from a teammate”) went to Dembélé while Castro and Kagawa rounded out the top three. 50 of Dembélé’s were “short” key passes (tops on the team) while 13 were “long” (eclipsed only by Castro’s 15).
Total successful dribbles
- Ousmane Dembélé (103)
- Christian Pulisic (55)
- Emre Mor (28)
A dribble occurs when a player “takes on an opponent and successfully makes it past them whilst retaining the ball”. Not only did Dembélé lead the Dortmund squad, he led all of the Bundesliga by 20 dribbles (next was Naby Keita with 83). Pulisic managed to rank ninth in the entire Bundesliga despite having fewer than half of Dembélé’s dribbles. Among all Bundesliga players who played 90 minutes in the season, Emre Mor was tops in dribbles per 90 minutes with 5.3.
- Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (116)
- Ousmane Dembélé (55)
- Marco Reus (43)
There’s nothing terribly surprising here. A healthy Marco Reus probably would have finished second.
Total times fouled
- Julian Weigl (62)
- Ousmane Dembélé (61)
- Sokratis Papastathopoulos (56)
If you can’t catch them, foul them. For much of the season, it seemed the only way to stop Dembélé was to take him to the ground. But Julian Weigl managed to earn one more foul. Sokratis managed to be fouled even more often than he fouled an opponent, which leads us to…
Total fouls committed
- Sokratis Papastathopoulos (43)
- Marcel Schmelzer (34)
- Marc Bartra (33)
It’s a pretty big gap between Papa and the others. And I’m certain his fouls hurt a lot more, too.
- Julian Weigl (67)
- Sokratis Papastathopoulos (59)
- Marc Bartra (53)
We all expected to see Sokratis on this list. When he tackles you, you know it. But Julian Weigl managed a few more tackles. On a per-game basis, Marc Bartra tops the list with 2.8 tackles per game. Sokratis and Mikel Merino each had 2.3 while Weigl had 2.2.
- Julian Weigl (70)
- Marcel Schmelzer (68)
- Marc Bartra (63)
Julian Weigl continues to lead in all “I will take the ball from you” categories with just a couple more interceptions than Marcel Schmelzer. On a per-game basis, Marc Bartra leads the way again with 3.3 over Schmelzer’s 2.6 and Weigl’s 2.3.
- Sokratis Papastathopoulos (105)
- Matthias Ginter (71)
- Łukasz Piszczek (62)
This list is obviously dominated by defenders and it is Papa who gets rid of the ball the most in these situations. Bartra only ranked fourth overall, but ranks second in clearances per game (3.0) behind Sokratis (4.0).
Total shots blocked
- Marc Bartra (12)
- Marcel Schmelzer (12)
- Sokratis Papastathopoulos (12)
Three player tied with a dozen blocked shots, but WhoScored also includes blocked crosses and blocked passes.
Total crosses blocked
- Marcel Schmelzer (13)
- Łukasz Piszczek (8)
- Felix Passlack (5)
Our captain appears to be the king of putting his body in front of the ball, also ranking first here. Interesting to see Passlack in the top three despite relatively few minutes.
Total passes blocked
- Julian Weigl (22)
- Marcel Schmelzer (21)
- Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (17)
Schmelzer nearly leads in all three block types, just falling a blocked pass short of Weigl. Aubameyang’s pressing duties yielded seventeen blocked passes.
The world knows the names Aubameyang and Dembélé. But those who follow the club closely know that they are so much more than that. Digging deeper into these underlying numbers can shed some light on these unsung heroes.