Analyzing Michy Batshuayi’s Excellent Dortmund Debut

With all the turmoil that Borussia Dortmund’s been through in the last year, the club and the city could’ve used someone to save them right about now. It had everything from bus bombing to the Thomas Tuchel fall out, DFB cup win to the Ousmane Dembele saga, Peter Bosz’s supernova start followed by fizzling out spectacularly and barely qualifying to the UEL. Spirits looked to have been raised when Bosz was replaced by Stöger, who then went from potential interim savior (for the faithful still worship at the alter of Julian Nagelsmann) to boring manager in weeks. Dortmund fell to seventh on the table, and Auba’s suspension and subsequent acrimonious departure left BVB morale at its lowest point in years. But on Friday night in Cologne, Michy’s Excellent Dortmund Debut (hereafter immortalized as M.E.D.D.) appeared to have given the Black and Yellows finally something to cling to. Sure, it was a victory eked out like Ömer Toprak sprinting for a key interception (no, that is an actual thing that happened multiple times!), a stretching André Schürrle sliding pass, or a diving headed block by Sokratis in the dying moments of the game. We should not forget that Dortmund conceded two goals on 13 second half shots, including 9 in the box versus a Cologne team lacking in skill, but making up for it with determination.

13 second half shots, including 9 in the box by Cologne

So who cares if Julian Weigl was poor defensively, Mo Dahoud was invisible for 20 minute spells and Sokratis is still maddeningly inconsistent. There is a new Bat(s)man in town!

It’s the year of M.E.D.D. and at the risk of blasphemy against our lord and savior Michy, we’re gonna analyze his performance.

https://twitter.com/brfootball/status/959575347426570240

In terms of social media he was already legendary, but his comments after the game have put him into the all-timer category.

On the field, Batshuayi put up superb numbers:

 

He showed much of what was advertised in the scouting reports – you might wanna check out the 25 minute discussing I had with Statsbomb’s Mohamed for Talking Fussball on Patreon:  Michy’s really good at getting into finishing positions, while also featuring a combination play and involvement (41 touches) that Dortmund have not had with Aubameyang. He’s excellent at using his body to shield defenders and is comfortable passing with both feet, while also seeing\attempting riskier passes. In addition, he’s a willing dribbler and works hard on the pitch.

There were one or two bad moments:

  • couple of overhit layoff passes – similar to his game vs Newcastle for Chelsea recently, we’ll get to this in the passing portion
  • failed to defend Mere on Cologne’s 2nd goal as he wasn’t close enough, didn’t jump with the Cologne CB

ran offside for Pulisic’s run and BVB gave up the counter goal for 1st Cologne, though was it his fault or Pulisic’s for not passing sooner?

Let’s break M.E.D.D. down further in terms of Passing, Shooting and Miscellaneous.

Passing

the slightly bad:

the 3 inaccurate passes were a Sokratis free kick that he chested long and a throughball that didn’t make it to Pulisic. This was his worst pass of the night, where by overhitting Dahoud, Michy killed the promising BVB counter.

the very good:

This in the 19th minute sequence was sublime, from the Schürrle stepover to the Michy no-look chip to the delayed run, it deserved a goal….

there were a couple other passes: good body strength to layoff, a couple of wonderful examples interplay with Kagawa, a backheel pass from a Toljan throw-in

Shots

  • got on the end of 2nd minute Schürrle cross from the left side, but it was a weird right footed toe-poke that went away from goal
  • the aforementioned 19th minute chance (see pic above)
  • the 34th minute goal, he did a nice job of getting into position, but the blame has to go to Cologne’s defense: because due to Jojic and Clemens (the nominal RM) being mostly in the middle\left side, Toljan was allowed to dribble in wide vs Sorensen, who was marking Schürrle on the dump off pass. There was no way Sorensen could/should get out to guard Toljan in 50 yards of space and also track Schürrle. Meanwhile, Schürrle continued his run into the box, drawing the attention of CB Mere, while Jojic let Kagawa go into the box, so the other CB Heintz had to switch off to cover Kagawa’s near post run, leaving Michy all alone inside the 6
  • in the 38th minute Schürrle was able to slide-pass on the counter, Kagawa released Michy (the pass could have lead him more into space….), and the Belgian opted to cut inside and shoot with his left:

    Unrealistic to expect Michy to dump the ball off to Kagawa?
  • another BVB counter, Michy gets into a great position, the ball from Schürrle is good. Would a GREAT pass to the left, onto Michy’s path (going left-diagonal) been a little better? Should Michy have opted for a chip (like Auba?):

    maybe a chip?
  • second goal: Michy pokes the ball from Heintz (poor first touch), then runs onto a througball by Pulisic, shocking Timo Horn, who had come off his line, with his quick steps and slotting it under the Cologne keeper for a very cool finish!
  • After another mishap on Cologne’s right side again exploited by Schürrle, the cross is perfect for Michy who should choose the far post for his header, but it lands meekly in Horn’s hands.
  • The header will drop in Horn’s hands, who does not have to move for it..

Miscellaneous

  • While pressing is not his strong suit, though he did a nice job of stealing Heintz’s ball prior to his second goal and also put in a great slide tackle in the 28th minute to win possession in a dangerous area before trying one too many dribbles.
  • he was ever so slightly offside in the 44th minute, and thus denied a hat-trick 
  • was probably out of gas in the last 10-15 minutes, as he “pulled a Yarmolenko” (failure to run forward when you’ve got a headstart in a potential 1 v 1, couldn’t run in the 93rd on a counter and cramped up 30 seconds later (but still soul-owned Freddie Sorensen by muscling\shielding him)

Overall, he’s probably unlucky not have scored a hat-trick, but it’s safe to say Michy’s taken 90 minutes to win over BVB fans. To paraphrase and invert the meaning of the famous lines said by inspector Gordon: “he’s the hero Dortmund deserves”

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Abel started out watching and playing soccer in Hungary, before falling in love with the Bundesliga in the mid -90s (thanks to Kicker and Sat1's Ran). Now, he's in the USA -- and still loving it all many years later. Abel is faithful to BVB, but also endlessly fascinated by the emergence of new teams and talents from Germany, to the point that he even started a website about it, at www.bundespremierleague.com. Otherwise, you can find him working in publishing, teaching ESL, and/or drinking craft beer - not necessarily at the same time, or in that order. Abel tweets at @VanbastenESL and @BundesPL

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