Manuel Akanji and Jadon Sancho impressed as Borussia Dortmund beat VfL Wolfsburg 2-0 at the Signal Iduna Park on Sunday.
Both sides aimed plenty of efforts on goal in the first half, but none that really managed to test the opposition goalkeeper. The returning Erling Haaland came the closest from a close-range shot but was thwarted by a block by John Brooks, while on the other end, Mats Hummels made a crucial block to deflect Yannick Gerhardt’s attempt away from goal.
Haaland was also denied by a couple of top saves by Wolfsburg captain Koen Casteels, in what was a frustrating return to action. The deadlock, though, was finally broken midway through the second half as Manuel Akanji headed in Jadon Sancho’s corner to hand Dortmund the lead.
Dortmund and Wolfsburg both continued to push for the next goal, but the win was rounded off late on when Sancho opened his Bundesliga account for the season with a fine close-range finish. The result took Dortmund back into the top four, while Wolfsburg dropped down to 6th. The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Edin Terzic’s men.
Roman Burki: 6/10
There was not a lot that Burki had to do against Wolfsburg, who only forced him to make a few regulation stops. The Dortmund no. 1, though, had a hit and miss outing on the ball, misplacing just six passes but giving the ball away in sloppy fashion on a couple of occasions. Will be relieved to have kept a clean sheet, though.
Thomas Meunier: 5/10
A sub-par display by Meunier, who was lucky to not be punished when he lost the ball near the box in the first half. Continued to be wasteful in possession thereafter and hardly posed a threat in the final third, while also being under the pump at the back against Josip Brekalo. Did make a few important clearances, though.
Manuel Akanji: 9/10
Top class performance by Akanji, who hardly put a foot wrong against Wolfsburg. At the back, he was solid enough to deal with the threat of Wout Weghorst, making a critical block while also being imposing in the air (2/2 aerial duels won). Incredibly precise on the ball, misplacing just 2 passes all game. The moment of the game, though, was his rocking header to hand Dortmund the lead.
Mats Hummels: 9/10
Like his partner at the heart of the Dortmund defence, Hummels was remarkably solid, making a crucial early block that kept the score at 0-0. His defensive numbers all through the game made for a brilliant reading – 6 clearances, 6 interceptions, 3 blocks, 3 aerial duels won – in what was an all-action performance. Even managed to thread a key pass.
Raphael Guerreiro: 6/10
A game of hits and misses for Guerreiro. The Portuguese international did set up a fine chance for Erling Haaland and played another key pass. However, he did not carry as much of a threat going down the left flank as he usually does. At the back, he was guilty of leaving too much space at times, although Hummels covered up superbly for the most part.
Axel Witsel: 6/10
Witsel, too, endured a blow-hot-blow-cold outing against Wolfsburg on Sunday. While the Belgian midfielder did not misplace many passes (just 2 all game), the times he did lose the ball was in a dangerous setting, which pegs his rating back a bit. Otherwise, he was largely solid in the middle of the park, making 3 clearances and a couple of blocks as well.
Thomas Delaney: 7/10
Retaining his place in the middle of the park, Delaney produced an accomplished performance versus Wolfsburg. The Dane was not as accurate when stitching together passes as Witsel, but he did create a fine chance while being rock solid off the ball (8 duels won) and covering the most distance across both teams. Solid from the Dortmund midfielder.
Jadon Sancho: 8/10
Sancho did not make the brightest of starts to the game and should have ideally found the back of the net in the first half itself. However, after an underwhelming first 45 minutes, Sancho burst into life, first providing the assist for Akanji’s goal before finally breaking his duck in the Bundesliga this season late on. Created 3 further chances, in what was a step in the right direction.
Jadon Sancho’s game by numbers vs. Wolfsburg:
81% pass accuracy
6 successful dribbles
5 chances created
Unbelievable feet. 👏👏👏
— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) January 3, 2021
Marco Reus: 7/10
Reus might not have been able to directly influence the result on Saturday, but this was still a decent enough performance. The Dortmund captain did not see a lot of the ball but posed a threat when he did look to push forward in the final third, creating a couple of fine openings. Ran himself into the ground off the ball, though, helping out Delaney and Witsel in midfield.
Giovanni Reyna: 5/10
A rare sub-par performance by Reyna, who just could not manage to influence the proceedings on Sunday, bar creating one half-chance. Failed to beat his marker and gave the ball away cheaply at times. However, this is just a part of his learning curve and Reyna ought to learn from such outings.
Erling Haaland: 7/10
Back into the starting lineup after recovering from a hamstring injury, Haaland was purposeful in his performance against Wolfsburg. The Dortmund striker, though, was left frustrated, having been denied brilliantly from each of the three shots he kept on target. Otherwise, he hardly saw the ball and attempted just 6 passes all game.
Steffen Tigges: N/A
On for Haaland, Tigges nearly scored immediately after coming on. A bright cameo by the youngster.
Emre Can: N/A
On for the final few minutes, Can did not see a lot of the ball but did grab the assist for Sancho’s late goal.
Dan-Axel Zagadou: N/A
A late introduction, Zagadou helped see the game out.