We are taking a look at the individual goals of Borussia Dortmund’s players in the 2017/2018 campaign.
The Bundesliga season is quickly arriving, and Borussia Dortmund start off the campaign against Wolfsburg. This season marks the first year with Peter Bosz in charge, and many people have different expectations for this upcoming year. With the players on this team, it is hard to give just one goal that covers the whole squad. So in this article, each expected first-teamer will be given a realistic goal for him to achieve. Some names left off include, but are not limited to, Roman Weidenfeller, Joo-Ho Park, Jacob Bruun Larsen, and Neven Subotić because it is highly unlikely that these players will see frequent first-team action.
Let’s start with the man at the top of the team sheet, Roman Bürki. Bürki will be the only regular first-teamer in goal, so he will have no concern about holding down his spot. Instead, a realistic goal for him should be to challenge German superstar goalkeeper Manuel Neuer for most clean sheets. Bürki is at the point where he can be considered by most as one of the best shot stoppers in the Bundesliga. A year of battling alongside Neuer as the clean-sheet leader should be enough to push Bürki over the “one of the best” line.
Moving to defence, let’s look at the stalwart of the backline, Sokratis. The hard-tackling Greek has proven himself as Dortmund’s best defender and does not really have anything to worry about, so his goal should be simple: receive less than five yellow cards this season. Looking at each season all the way back to the 2013/14 Bundesliga campaign, Sokratis has never had anything less than five yellow cards per season. Dortmund cannot afford for him to be suspended. His discipline could use work.
For our next player, we will be staying central with Marc Bartra. The Spanish fan favourite quickly rose to become one of the most beloved players of the Yellow Wall. But this is not about last season; it is about this season. Bartra had inconsistent performances, and with Ömer Toprak arriving, it is important that Bartra battles for his first-team spot and win it with consistently strong performances.
That being said, new signing Ömer Toprak had a lacklustre preseason with his new squad. He was viewed as one of the best defenders in the league during his time with Bayer Leverkusen, but moving to Dortmund means he needs to step up his performance even more. It is fair to expect him to need some time to adjust to a new team, but by the end of the season, he should be aiming to have won the starting spot beside Sokratis.
Another new signing, top prospect Dan-Axel Zagadou, enjoyed a strong pre-season, despite being put wide by Peter Bosz. Zagadou has already shown his promising potential, but he is the new kid in an experienced centre-back core. As long as he stays fit, it should be a relatively good season for him. A realistic goal he should be aiming for would be winning a bench spot when the defence is fully fit.
Shifting to the spot where Zagadou was played (but should not have been played), we bring our attention to a team leader in Marcel Schmelzer. Schmelzer should have the starting spot without too many issues. The German full-back is now 29 years old, meaning he could start declining soon. As long as he stays fit, everything will be okay on the left flank for Dortmund.
Moving to the other full-back spot with another veteran, we come to Lukasz Piszczek, who has also seen his fair share of injury issues. His form has seen a steady decline and with BVB most likely bringing in Jeremy Toljan, he will have more competition than in previous years.
That brings us to Felix Passlack. He shares a common goal with his fellow German full-back Erik Durm. Neither full-back is quite good enough to replace Piszczek or Schmelzer for now, and unless the veterans’ abilities decline, these two will not be good enough this season. The second best option? Winning the bench spot. It would be surprising to see both Passlack and Durm on the bench when the regulars are fit, meaning Passlack and Durm need to make the most out of every minute they get on the pitch to win a spot.
To begin the transition to midfield, we cannot forget about the young Portuguese international Raphaël Guerreiro. The 23-year-old can play both left-back and in the midfield, be it centrally or on the left flank. Guerreiro is currently recovering from injury, and his main goal when he returns should be to replicate his form from last season.
Did I say injury? Then we should look at Nuri Şahin. The Dortmund veteran did not win over the heart of Thomas Tuchel, but a new manager means a new chance; Şahin has a shot at re-emerging into the Dortmund lineup. With Merino on loan to Newcastle and Castro’s spot seeming to be up for grabs, that spot in the lineup should be the ultimate prize for Şahin.
Moving to Gonzalo Castro, the goal should be fairly obvious in the previous paragraph. Peter Bosz is looking at his options in the centre of the park while Weigl is gone. When Weigl returns, someone may have impressed enough to take Castro’s spot. Castro needs to do anything he can to retain his spot.
Julian Weigl has quickly risen to become one of Dortmund’s main men. Once he returns from his injury, recovering his form will be the main goal.
Another name that will be battling for the spot (and is a favourite to win it) beside Weigl is Mahmoud Dahoud. The recent arrival from Gladbach has shown his Bundesliga capabilities. The question of the day is will he be a starter or an impact sub at the start of the season?
One man that has surprised many this pre-season is Sebastian Rode. Rode suffered through a pretty rough first year with Thomas Tuchel after arriving from Bayern. Many people were saying towards the end of last season that he should be shown the exit door, but Peter Bosz wanted to see how Rode performed and it turned out well. Even with a spot to grab, it is unlikely Rode will emerge on top, so being a frequent substitute and occasional starter should be the goal this season.
Sliding to the more attacking-minded midfielders, we come to Shinji Kagawa, who represents an interesting case. The Japanese favourite showed moments last season of being one of the best on the pitch, but he doesn’t really seem to come to mind as a player who deserves to be a regular starter. With Maxi Philipp being capable of playing any attacking position, Ousmane Dembélé (if he stays) being capable of playing centrally, and Christian Pulisic sliding to a more central position for the US national side, Shinji Kagawa’s chances of being a starter are unlikely. He will likely retain a spot on the bench but may not see many minutes. When he does get to play, he must make the most of it. His goal should be to be involved in at least five goals off the bench this season, be it creating or scoring the goal.
The man who won Germany the World Cup in 2014 has not been able to replicate that prized form ever since that summer in Brazil. Mario Götze is returning from his metabolic disorder and will be expected to perform this year like the star he can be. His goal is simple: return to being one of the best in Germany.
Speaking of one of the best in Germany, Marco Reus has proven his worth as arguably the best in Dortmund. Unfortunately, he is made of glass. Marco Reus absolutely needs to try and stay fit for a majority of the season. His goal should be to stay fit once he returns this season.
Another veteran winger is André Schürrle. Schürrle faces stiff competition this year from some rising stars, competition that will be even tighter when Reus returns. Fortunately for Schürrle, he is a proven veteran who stays fairly consistent. Despite not being a main man, he keeps finding his way onto the German national team, which proves his value. His goal as a veteran should be to fill the void left by Marco Reus. Once Reus returns, André should be a man that can be relied on to hold onto a win off the bench. Unfortunately he will at least miss the first two league matches due to a torn hamstring in his thigh.
While we discuss the wide players, let’s talk about the bright futures on the flanks. Christian Pulisic has captured the hearts of nearly all Dortmund fans and the vast majority of the United States. The young American is just 18 and is already one of the better talents in the Bundesliga. With rumours of Ousmane Dembélé exiting, Pulisic’s goal should be to surprise the people who are saying Dortmund cannot live without the French international.
Ousmane Dembélé—will he stay or will he go? The young French international has been suspended until further notice from Dortmund. He has the Yellow Wall worried sick. If he does decide to stay and becomes reinstated to first-team action, he will need to continue being a top player at the club to repair the relationship.
Maximilian Philipp arrived from Freiburg this summer and will be a versatile prospect for Peter Bosz. It is unlikely that Philipp is at the level of quality needed to start over Reus, Dembélé, or even Pulisic. That being said, if it is an attacking position, he can play it; Philipp will be invaluable off the bench. His goal should be to change the match (in a good way) whenever he comes onto the pitch.
Alexander Isak is another member of the great future at Borussia Dortmund but is far from replacing superstar Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. His goal is relatively simple since he does not have much of a shot at starting: stay patient; the time of being the main man at one of the biggest clubs in the world will come.
To conclude the realistic goals list of the 24 men most likely to see a decent amount of playing time at Borussia Dortmund, we will end with the Bundesliga’s reigning leading goalscorer, the man who plays with a supporter’s heart nearly every day. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has been doing his part to make sure the rumours of a move away do not disappear from the papers. It is incredibly unlikely that Aubameyang will leave this late into the window, especially if Dembélé leaves as well. It is even more unlikely that he would be allowed to leave in the January window, not until a replacement is training with Dortmund and ready. Assuming Aubameyang stays, his goal should be to improve his shot efficiency. Despite scoring 31 goals, with a number of chances he had, a player of his calibre should have easily scored 40. It is unreasonable to expect 40 goals, especially if the main supplier in Dembélé makes his exit, but it is reasonable to expect a lower amount of shots per goal.
There are the goals for the Borussia Dortmund squad leading into this season. Do you think some goals are too easy to achieve or too difficult? Do you have any questions or thoughts on the article? You can find me on Twitter @aidan_reagh, and I will be excited to answer and discuss.