Weidenfeller vs Bürki: BVB’s Battle of the Romans

It is a case of Roman versus Roman as the battle for Borussia Dortmund’s number one goalkeeper heats up. The veteran Roman Weidenfeller faces a challenge to his this season following the signing of Roman Bürki from relegated SC Freiburg.

New coach Thomas Tuchel has a tough decision to make as the season opener with Borussia Mönchengladbach nears. Although Tuchel has kept his cards pretty close to his chest, here at the Bundesliga Fanatic, we’ve analysed the two custodians and decide who will triumph in Dortmund’s Battle of the Keepers.

Roman Weidenfeller

Last summer, the German keeper was more than happy to be on the bench in Brazil as Germany won the World Cup and Weidenfeller was able to join in the celebration both in Rio and then back home in Berlin. Playing second fiddle to Manuel Neuer in the national team is understandable, but is not something the 34-year-old Dortmund keeper wants to repeat at club level.

Weidenfeller has been the Dortmund number one since 2003 when he joined from 1.FC Kaiserslautern as a replacement for Jens Lehmann. A late developer on the international front, the keeper had to wait until 2013 for his full debut for die Nationalelf.

Roman Bürki

Even though SC Freiburg were relegated last season from the Bundesliga, keeper Roman Bürki still emerged with a glowing reputation as one of the league’s top goalkeepers and it was always likely that he would be making a swift return to the top flight.

BVB it was who splashed out €3.5 million for the Swiss custodian triggering the departure of Mitch Langerack to VfB Stuttgart and the debate as to his usurping of veteran Weidenfeller.

Starting at Young Boys, he then had a few loan spells before impressing enough for Grasshoppers to sign him. Bürki made his international debut last year against Poland in a friendly and has two full caps.

Tale of the Tape

Roman Weidenfeller (left) vs. Roman Bürki (right):

  • Ages: 34 vs. 24
  • Height: 1m 90 vs. 1m 87
  • Total Bundesliga matches: 345 vs. 34
  • 2014/15 matches: 25 vs. 34
  • 2014/15 goals conceded: 32 vs. 47
  • 2014/15 clean sheets: 7 vs. 9

The old saying ‘lies, damn lies and statistics’ has its truth, and comparing goalkeepers playing behind different defences has its shortcomings.

However, a look at the stats from last season regarding the two candidates for the place between the posts for die Schwarzgelben does reveal some interesting facts.

Bürki was an ever-present for a struggling Freiburg last season playing all 34 games, whereas Weidenfeller lost his place to Aussie Mitch Langerak. The Swiss conceded more goals (47), but he played nine more games.

Bürki held 76% of the shots on his goal last season compared to Weidenfeller’s 64%. The Swiss keeper looks better at crosses catching 29% of crosses and 15% of corners compared to the German’s 13% and 8%.

With the modern keeper expected to play from the back à la Manuel Neuer, and Tuchel being a fan of this expanded keeper role, the evidence from last season tends to favour Bürki. At Freiburg, the younger keeper had an average of 52 ball contacts per game compared to the BVB keeper’s 30.5.

The Verdict

New Dortmund trainer Thomas Tuchel has already stated that ‘the hands of the clock are back at zero,’ meaning that all players will be given an equal crack of the whip and that no one is guaranteed a place in the starting XI.

With the former Mainz coach favouring a style of play that favours plenty of possession, control and precise, directed passing, it could well be the new arrival who gets the nod at the start of the new season. He may have the number 38 on his shirt, but he could be set to be the BVB number one

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Mathew Burt

A year spent living in Bremen got Mathew hooked on the Bundesliga with regular visits to the Weser Stadion getting in the way of his studies. Back in the UK now, he still keenly follows the Grün-Weißen and German football in general. Follow him on Twitter @matburt74.