Dortmund Battle Back to Secure Last 16 Spot
Here is how Dortmund’s players rated in their second leg Europa League fixture at home against Atalanta:
Burki – 5
On the back of a remarkable performance against Borussia Moenchengladbach, Burki began the game in the worst way possible. After coming out to clear a cross from a corner, he completely missed the ball and helped give Atalanta the lead.
Piszcek – 7
Although the Polish fullback had a more challenging night than in recent weeks, he stuck to his guns and put in a steady shift.
Sokratis – 7
Dortmund’s captain on the night had a fantastic performance especially in the first half when the visitors faced a barrage of attacks that could’ve damaged their hopes of progressing to the next round. Luckily for them, Sokratis was on hand with several crunching tackles. His boldness at the back was a critical factor especially under huge pressure from the hosts.
Toprak – 6
Gian Piero Gasperini’s men were clearly instructed to pressurise one of Dortmund’s main ball players and he struggled to make a sufficient impact on the game.
Toljan – 6
The German youngster has been consistent in the last few weeks but he looked unsettled from the first whistle until he was taken off for Schmelzer at half-time. That might be his last start in a while with Schmelzer simply offering more than his understudy in that position.
Dahoud – 6
Dahoud made a bright start to the game making several smart passes under pressure. However, his influence on the game faded as the match progressed into its latter stages. His positioning also put Dortmund at risk on several occasions where they were on the receiving end of a few threatening counter-attacks.
Pulisic – 6
This was a hard call. His general output was admirable but his overall impact on the game was minimal. His dribbling ability was a huge asset on the night but he had little end product when it came to creating goalscoring chances. An encouraging aspect to take away from his performance is that he is slowly edging back to his best form. It seems to be an understated fact that his performance suffered once he returned from injury. He is, however, gaining confidence and should deliver some incredible displays over the next few weeks.
Gotze – 6
Like Dahoud, the maestro began the game very well, playing in the tightest of spaces and distributing the ball well too. Unfortunately, he has lacked stability over the course of the season and it showed in last night’s performance.
Schurrle – 7
Schurrle’s determination and drive has truly been the key to Dortmund’s success in over the course of February. The way he collects the ball from deep and charges forward before setting someone else up has become a familiar sight and it keeps the team ticking in advanced areas. It forced Atalanta to play on the backfoot when they defended against him throughout the game. Although he didn’t end up with a goal or an assist, he was a crucial cog in the Dortmund machine that now march on to the last 16.
Batshuayi – 6
Batshuayi was a marked man in this second leg fixture. He was viciously closed down whenever he got the ball and had little time and space to hold-up play or even run the channels. At the end of the game, he had only mustered two shots on goal. A disappointing night for the Batman but it was a compliment to Atalanta for nullifying the threat of Dortmund’s dangerman throughout the game.
Reus – 6
Came on for Pulisic with 30 minutes to go but his contribution to the game was ineffective.
Isak – 6
Just like Reus, Isak’s presence did little to change the resulting scoreline.
Schmelzer – 7
Replaced Toljan at halftime and provided the team’s attack with width which was crucial in changing the dynamic of the game. With just under 10 minutes to go, he grabbed the all-important equalizer which took Dortmund through to the next round. Schmelzer’s return from injury was definitely one of the night’s highlights and he capped it off with a goal which made his appearance all the more sweeter.
Man of the Match:
Sahin – 7
Nuri Sahin’s starting berth was a cause for optimism, especially with his experience in European competitions, and he delivered with a top showing expected by an experienced campaigner. He defended excellently winning five tackles as well as four of his aerial duels, and he was a big factor in Atalanta being unable to stretch their lead to two goals. As the hosts defended deeper and deeper in the latter stages of the second half, he was afforded more space to affect the game.