DORTMUND, Germany — Borussia Dortmund won their first home match of the season 2-0 against Hertha Berlin with another dominant performance, making it two wins out of two. BVB finish the Saturday once again top of the table.
“Ideally, every opponent will play their worst match of the season against us,” Peter Bosz said at the pre-match news conference on Friday, adding: “That means that our pressing works.” It did. The Black and Yellows stayed undefeated at the Westfalenstadion for the 39th consecutive game with another dominant performance.
Although there is still some rust in this Dortmund side, the coach’s plan is working out well thus far. Two clean sheets are maybe just as important as the five goals in the 180 minutes of total league play thus far.
As alluded to above, there is still room for improvement. At times, Dortmund played too wing-heavy, missing an open player in a more central position in their build-up play. Oh, and set-piece defending should be added to the training routine.
Manager rating out of 10
7 — As alluded to above, there is still room for improvement. At times, Dortmund played too wing-heavy, missing an open player in a more central position in their build-up play. Oh, and set-piece defending should be added to the training routine.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Roman Burki, 7 — Hertha hardly tested the Swiss goalkeeper but in the second half a quick reflex on the line denied the guests scoring from a corner. Even more impressive considering he had little to do throughout the match.
DF Lukasz Piszczek, 6 — The right-back delivered an industrious performance against his former club, building a fine partnership with Christian Pulisic. However, he has to work on his crossing during the international break.
DF Sokratis Papastathopoulos, 6 — The Greek centre-back had an intense tussle with Vedad Ibisevic. After 30 minutes, he went into the book as a heavy touch left him no other option than to commit a tactical foul. Ten minutes later he had to be subbed off due to injury.
DF Marc Bartra, 5 — Bartra’s job mainly consisted of recovering lose balls. After his spectacular strike in Wolfsburg, he had a relatively quiet day in the office.
DF Dan-Axel Zagadou, 8 — The 18-year-old centre-back continuous to impress while deployed as a left-back. Both of Dortmund’s best chances in the first half were instigated by him. His footballing IQ is also showing despite him playing out of position, as he finds the narrow channels between the lines when high up the field that can quickly unlock an entire defence. He needs, however, a tad more defensive awareness.
MF Gonzalo Castro, 6 — Although not the most spectacular figure offensively, Castro’s defensive performance makes him a valuable part in Dortmund’s machine.
MF Nuri Sahin, 9 — 108 km/h! That was the speed of Sahin’s power-shot from the edge of the box in the 57th minute to double the scoreline. It was a serious drive into the top right corner of the goal. For the midfield maestro, who excelled as BVB’s midfield maestro like in days’ past, it was the icing on the cake.
MF Mario Gotze, 7 — As promised by Bosz, Gotze left the field around the hour-mark. He received a standing ovation after an overall decent performance. In the final minutes of his shift, his passing went a little astray.
FW Christian Pulisic, 7 — As always, one of the brightest players on the field. Pulisic caused a stir on the right side, especially in the first half. In the second half, he too often tried to run headfirst through a wall, overlooking a better passing option.
FW Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, 7 — After 15 minutes, Sahin pinged a ball into the box from the left side. Aubameyang turned his left leg around Hertha centre-back Karim Rekik and put the ball in the far corner past Rune Jarstein. A well-worked finish that was the difference at half-time. The Gabonese striker has been on the scoresheet in every competitive match for BVB this season.
FW Maximilian Philipp, 6 — Kicked the post in frustration deep into the second half. The former Freiburg player had a decent amount of chances to score. But that did not take away from an otherwise solid performance. Especially defensively, the winger is a good addition to balance Dortmund’s midfield.
DF Omer Toprak, 7 — Toprak showed in his first league appearance for BVB that he is a superb option to have. There was no drop-off felt in the centre-back position after he came on in the 40th minute.
MF Shinji Kagawa, 6 — Looked lively in his 30-minute appearance, but still needs to collect more minutes to fully regain his form.
MF Mahmoud Dahoud, NR — Got the final 10 minutes. Not to be confused with Sahin, although the midfielder also likes to instruct his teammates by pointing in all directions.
Stefan Buczko covers Borussia Dortmund for ESPN FC. Twitter: @StefanBuczko.