Felix Passlack (17) was already a well-known name a year ago, after he joined the first team in the winter training camp in La Manga, and he has now made his way into the first team of Borussia Dortmund. Passlack was touted as the best young player from BVB or even Germany and “the new Mario Götze“ by some media outlets.
Part 3: – Christian Pulisic – Hershey’s Finest
He certainly is a very promising talent but he has almost nothing in common with Mario Götze from a footballing perspective. Passlack’s biggest strengths are his mentality and the physical side of his game. Unfortunately, it has become more and more obvious that his first touch and overall technique might not be good enough to play as a winger under Thomas Tuchel, while he looked to be a great fit in Jürgen Klopp’s pressing system and in the youth national teams in that position.
Considering that wingers usually drift in the No. 10 space under Tuchel and will find themselves in narrow pockets, it’s hard to imagine that Passlack will have much of a future as an offensive player under Tuchel.
Passlack shares some qualities with Lukasz Piszczek and Erik Durm, however, which makes him an interesting candidate for a future full-back role in the first team.
Tuchel said Passlack didn’t make the squad because of the position he plays. Which means he’s seen as a full-back for now, I guess.
— Lars Pollmann (@Ziz_kov) 23. Januar 2016
Tuchel played the 17-year-old at left-back in a few friendlies, probably mostly due to the lack of other options with Marcel Schmelzer recovering from muscle problems, but he seems to be a better fit on the right side.
Tuchel’s system requires the right-back to provide width offensively, keep the combination play alive and create breakthroughs when the team overload the left wing to create space on the right side of the pitch.
Passlack is a good enough passer to make a meaningful contribution to the buildup play and he might even be a bit more creative than Piszczek in that regard. While the Pole usually sticks to playing longline balls down the flank or short passes to an open midfielder, Passlack likes to move inside a bit, thus creating more passing angles for himself.
His technique might not be on the same level as some of the offensive players’, but it’s definitely reliable enough to have him play as a full-back, although he could get into trouble against aggressive pressing since he’s not a great dribbler off the cuff or in narrow spaces. A trait he shares with Piszczek. Another one.
When dribbling, Passlack likes to push the ball with the inside of his foot and relies on his right foot to do most of the work. He is agile in the sense of being virtually anywhere on the pitch but less so in his body movement and dribbling.
It’s doubtful whether Passlack’s agility (when it comes to his playing position) will be needed in Tuchel’s rather rigid positional play. When he’s trying to get past an opponent, he usually relies on his quickness and strength instead of tricks or feints, basically pushing the ball past someone and then following it.
While there are some worries, Passlack would definitely be able to bomb down the right and create breakthroughs there thanks to his physicality, solid technique at full speed and his quickness.
10 goals in 11 games for Dortmund’s under-19 this season speak for his nose for the goal and finishing ability: He could become a real threat from the right-back position eventually. Doesn’t all that sound a bit like Piszczek (except for the finshing part)?
Offensively, he has to improve his decision making when it comes to crossing. Often he prefers a high cross with no obvious target to a more promising cut-back.
One difference to BVB’s long-time stalwart is his lack of height. He’s only 170 cm (5’6“) and could be more vulnerable to long balls to his side than taller full-backs. It also remains questionable whether Passlack could deal with top-class wingers defensively.
He’s never been tested on this level and hasn’t played full-back regularly for quite a while now. While his defensive instincts are rather good in higher pressing situations, he finds himself out of position and too wide at times when defending in the last line.
It is speculative to say how good a defender he really is or can become, and we have to see how he does after getting some games as a full-back more regularly. The fundamentals are definitely there, though.
Overall the chances for Felix Passlack to eventually end up in the Bundesliga should be pretty good, it just remains to be seen if it’ll be playing for Borussia Dortmund and if so, at which position.