Julian Brandt bagged a brace as Borussia Dortmund secured a comfortable 2-0 victory over VfB Stuttgart on Friday.

Borussia Dortmund returned to winning ways on Friday night, securing a 2-0 victory over VfB Stuttgart. It was a crucial result for the Black and Yellows, who remain ahead of third-placed RB Leipzig while closing the gap to Bayern Munich to six points.

Heading into this game on the back of a shambolic 4-1 defeat to Leipzig, the pressure was immense on coach Marco Rose. But his team was dealt a blow in the very first minute when Giovanni Reyna picked up another unfortunate injury that subbed him off in the second minute of the game.

However, it was his replacement Julian Brandt who ended up scoring the two goals for Dortmund on the night, producing a clinical display in front of goal. Dortmund, in general, looked far better than what they had shown against Stuttgart, although the visitors could have easily lost or at least conceded a goal or two against a side with a bit more attacking quality.

What was particularly impressive about BVB’s performance was the intensity the whole team showed despite failing to perform to their potential. It was a refreshing sight for the fans, who have been left disappointed by the team’s performances all season so far. Here, at The Hard Tackle, we will run the rule over the Borussia Dortmund players in their comfortable victory over Stuttgart this weekend.

Gregor Kobel: 7.5/10

Gregor Kobel made one of the saves of the season when he denied Borna Sosa in the second half. The Borussia Dortmund ‘keeper looked in exceptional touch and was a claiming presence in between the sticks. His performance was crucial in helping his team earn a rare clean sheet on the night.

Emre Can: 7/10

Emre Can made a sloppy start to the game as he struggled to deal with the threat of Stuttgart’s wide players in Chris Fuhrich and Borna Sosa. But he improved as the game progressed, notably producing an excellent defensive shift in the second half to keep Stuttgart at bay.

Mats Hummels: 6/10

Mats Hummels did not have the best of games and looked troubled at times dealing with the pace of Tiago Tomas and Omar Marmoush. He looked sloppy in possession as well, before being taken off at half-time, most likely due to an injury.

Manuel Akanji: 6.5/10

Manuel Akanji was another Dortmund defender that looked far from his best on the night. The Swiss international has performed well below par this year, which would perhaps offer much less resentment to the Dortmund side about losing him in the upcoming summer transfer window.

Raphael Guerreiro: 6.5/10

Raphael Guerreiro was weak defensively, struggling to keep up with the wide players and often leaving too much space in behind the backline. He fared well going forward, though, keeping Pascal Stenzel on his toes and linking up brilliantly with Marco Reus and co.

Jude Bellingham: 7/10

Jude Bellingham offered the aggression, work ethic and dynamism in the Borussia Dortmund midfield. He was always willing to commit himself to challenges while offering creativity going forward. He notably produced the through ball that led to Dortmund’s opener on the night.

Mahmoud Dahoud: 6.5/10

Mahmoud Dahoud started the game well, as he was more than willing to close down the opposing players. He offered protection in possession play as well, though his night was cut short by a shoulder injury just after the half-hour mark.

Thorgan Hazard: 6/10

Thorgan Hazard offered little to no creativity on the right-hand side of the Dortmund attack. He looked clueless for the most part, often giving away possession cheaply or not knowing what to do with the ball in the final third. The Belgian’s stature in this Dortmund side continues to dwindle, and it will be a surprise to see him remain at the club beyond the summer.

Giovanni Reyna: N/A

Giovanni Reyna was unlucky once again to pick up an early hamstring injury. He was seen crying while leaving the field and with the World Cup approaching, the American must focus on his recovery if he wishes to make it time for the event.

Marco Reus: 6.5/10

Marco Reus had an off day in the attack. He looked brilliant in the build-up play but he also appeared quite sloppy in possession, at times, failing to offer any real penetration in the attacking third. The German is yet to find his footing after returning from a brief injury spell on the sidelines.

Erling Haaland: 7/10

It was yet another game without a goal for Erling Haaland. But the Norwegian truly did everything else apart from scoring. He worked his socks off and even tracked back to help his team defensively. He was rewarded for his efforts with an assist for Brandt’s opener, and his well-timed runs in behind the defence caused a myriad of problems for the Stuttgart defence.

SUBSTITUTES

Julian Brandt: 6.5/10

Julian Brandt replaced Reyna early on to bag a brace against Stuttgart. But despite the two goals, the German international looked far from his usual best. He gave away possession cheaply, often incurring heavy touches while wasting a few counter-attacking opportunities. It won’t be surprising to see him being offloaded in the summer.

Axel Witsel: 7/10

Axel Witsel looked calm and composed after replacing Dahoud in the first half. He should have tried being a little more attack-oriented with his passing, but his experience truly helped Dortmund retain control of the game, especially in the second half.

Dan-Axel Zagadou: 6.5/10

Dan-Axel Zagadou looked effortless after replacing Hummels. He had no issues dealing with Tomas as he helped Dortmund keep a clean sheet. However, this performance might not be enough to seal his future at Signal Iduna Park.

Marius Wolf: 6/10

Marius Wolf was a late substitute for Guerreiro. He did not provide much quality to the table, though his versatility was quite useful for Rose’s men.

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