Ryerson is enjoying a productive and, surprisingly, goal-oriented season up to this point. The Norwegian right-back has not only been influential defensively, his strongest asset, but he has also been effective going forward. He now has two goals in his last two Bundesliga outings, including a masterpiece against Hoffenheim. His versatility and hard-working character has certainly won fans over, and he has shown why he deserves a spot in the starting XI.
Some might claim that Mats Hummels is too old and past his prime. It is a partially fair statement, as the veteran defender often struggles to catch up with attackers on the run and has given away two penalties already this season. But his ball-playing skills and experience are precisely why he is still a starter. Hummels remains one of the top ball-playing centre-backs in the Bundesliga. He plays like an organiser from the back-line and does an excellent job of marshalling the defence week in, week out.
Salih Özcan spent most of last season on the bench as a back-up option for now-captain Emre Can. But he has enjoyed quite the resurgence this season, with BVB looking much better with him organising the midfield and cutting out opposition counter-attacks. The Turkish international’s ability to progress play and help out in the build-up has also improved, as evidenced by his impressive assist while on international duty earlier this month.
The former captain was limited to a substitute role last season, which, considering his age and contract situation, suggested the end of his time as a regular starter at Borussia Dortmund. However, Reus has once again proved his doubters wrong, contributing with goals and assists; and leading the team even after abdicating from his captaincy status. The 34 year old has become a pivotal force for BVB in what could well be his final season with the club.
Most Borussia Dortmund fans and analysts were surprised when the links with Niclas Füllkrug, last season’s Bundesliga top scorer, started to emerge. With Sébastien Haller and Youssoufa Moukoko already in the squad, there were questions regarding the need to sign another striker. Despite the initial doubts, Füllkrug is starting to show why he was signed. He has already taken over as the first-choice striker, and BVB’s attacking play is starting to look a lot better with him in the team.