Ramy Bensebaini and Maruis Wolf once again underline the need for full-back depth
The game against Frankfurt once again brought to light something many, including myself, have been saying for a very long time now; Borussia Dortmund is in dire need of fullback depth. The game against Frankfurt underlined this quite plainly as both Ramy Bensebaini and Marius Wolf struggled to make an impact on the game, for differing reasons.
Starting with Bensebaini, I want to caveat the following by saying that he has not been a bad signing whatsoever. In fact, I’d say he’s been rather solid since joining, adding that bit of defensive steel Dortmund missed out on the left flank in previous seasons. That being said, it’s hard to not notice that the Algerian international seemed a bit sluggish in his tracking back and sometimes finding himself out of position, which opened gaps for Frankfurt to exploit. For Frankfurt’s second goal, it was the space left by Bensebaini moving into a more central position that allowed talented youngster Hugo Larsson to play the ball out wide to his teammate and unlock the initial chance that eventually led to chaos in the box.
Frankfurt’s blistering pace troubled Bensebaini all game, and it seemed that their tempo of passing was far too quick for him at times as well. Frankfurt’s third goal, courtesy of Chaïbi saw Bensebaini take on the role of bystander, as he was late to react to either the pass or Chaïbi’s run, which gave his compatriot the time he needed to get a good angle and slot past Meyer deftly.
In term’s of Marius Wolf, we saw much of what we’ve been used to seeing – mis placed passes, and defensive liability. Some will credit his cross for Moukoko’s goal to a degree, but the reality is it was more the clearance that gave Moukoko the opportunity to take down the ball the way he did and finish cleanly. In the 46th minute he was culpable in letting Larsson find former Dortmund player Ansgar Knauff close to Dortmund’s box. He was not quick or committed enough to pursue Marmoush and assist Hummels, leaving Dortmund’s (understandably) frustrated center back out to dry. Marmoush thankfully didn’t finish this opportunity, but came very close. It’s not the first time this has occurred out on Dortmund’s right flank, and it won’t be the last. Wolf is a decent utility player for Dortmund, but the stability Julian Ryerson provides in defense was sorely missed.
A very congested schedule for Dortmund in the coming weeks will further expose just how important full-back depth is for the club. Overall quality aside, the intensity of the games Dortmund have been playing and will continue to play will require some rotation, and with both (healthy) fullbacks looking over-run against Frankfurt, I shudder to think what the likes of Mathys Tel, Kingsley Coman, and Leroy Sane might do in next weekend’s edition of Der Klassiker.
Considering the circumstances of the game and it’s context within the scope of Dortmund’s season, a high scoring draw is not far off from my initial prediction of 3-2 on my last chat with The BVB Podcast. Frankfurt’s ability to counter has been stellar this season, and the team as a whole struggled to handle it, which led to some sloppy and sluggish defending. There’s a reason why Die Adler are undefeated at home, which comes as little surprise when one takes their most recent games into account.
On a more positive note, Dortmund showed the ability to put three goals past the (statistically) strongest defense in the league to date, bringing their number of conceded goals to 9 single handedly. Dortmund’s attack has been criticized for not taking their chances, and that seems to be shifting. They will certainly need to remain sharp up front while really taking a look at what needs to change defensively ahead of both their Pokal clash with Hoffenheim and their league matchup against Bayern.