Niklas Süle and Nico Schlotterbeck have been convincing in BVB’s center of defense since the beginning of the year. The next tough test is in the Champions League at Chelsea.
Gregor Kobel flew to London, so there should be a chance that he will score the goal in the game at Chelsea on Tuesday (March 7th, 2023, from 8.50 p.m. live on the radio report and in the live ticker on sportschau.de). by Borussia Dortmund.
Alexander Meyer replaced Kobel, who was out at short notice due to a muscle injury, in the 2-1 win against RB Leipzig. “We haven’t just known about the quality of Alexander Meyer since today. He’s doing really well in every training session. He really helped us with a few scenes.”, coach Edin Terzić praised the 31-year-old goalkeeper, who could play again in the second leg of the Champions League round of 16. BVB won the first leg 1-0.
Would Kobel have kept it?
In September and October 2022, Meyer stepped in for Kobel, who was missing at the time due to a torn muscle fiber. He conceded a few hits, where the question arose whether Kobel would have kept it and the answer was: probably yes. That was the case in the Champions League group game at Manchester City, when BVB lost 2-1 after leading 1-0.
But late summer and early fall can be very different than winter. This can be seen at Borussia Dortmund overall, but above all at the two central defenders Niklas Süle and Nico Schlotterbeck. They’ve been the seeded duo in the center of the back four for weeks and a key reason why Terzić says: “It’s difficult to score against us these days.“
In the ten competitive games of the 2023 calendar year, all of which BVB won, he conceded eight goals, half of them in the first two Bundesliga games against FC Augsburg (4:3) and at 1. FSV Mainz 05 (2:1). Schlotterbeck made serious mistakes against Augsburg, reminiscent of the time before the World Cup break, when the question arose as to what became of Nico Schlotterbeck, who convinced Dortmund to transfer 20 million euros to SC Freiburg for him to pay.
The start of Niklas Süle, who came on a free transfer from FC Bayern Munich in the summer, was hampered by an injury. He then came to his first Bundesliga game in the notorious game against Werder Bremen, when BVB lost 3-2 after a 2-0 lead due to late goals. Süle looked very bad for a Bremen goal because he lost a running duel that caused scorn, ridicule and pity from some.
Only every three hours a goal with Süle in the starting XI
Up until the World Cup break, Borussia had only won three of nine Bundesliga games with Süle in the starting XI (one draw, five defeats). The 2023 record in the Bundesliga with Süle in the starting XI: six games, six wins, only three goals conceded. If Süle was on the pitch, the opponents needed 181 minutes for a goal against BVB, without him only 44.
The statistical values for Nico Schlotterbeck were good even before the World Cup, where he made a few mistakes in the national team like Süle. But the overall impression has gotten much better, as he wins important duels and, like against Leipzig, saves in very tricky situations.
In addition, Schlotterbeck has become even more conspicuous on the offensive. In 2022 it was three goals in 15 games for Borussia, this year it is four in eight games. Nico Schlotterbeck is at the top in one category: With 68 percent of duels won, he has the best value of all regular players in the Bundesliga.
Star-studded Chelsea offense
Chelsea are a disappointing tenth in the Premier League. However, the squad, which was improved with hundreds of millions of euros in winter, is peppered with stars. Against Dortmund, the Portuguese João Félix and the extremely fast Ukrainian Michailo Mudryk are expected alongside the German international Kai Havertz. Hakim Ziyech and Raheem Sterling would also be on the bench.
In the first leg, the English were quite convincing, but remained without a goal. Particularly convincing in the Dortmund defense: Niklas Süle, Nico Schlotterbeck – and Gregor Kobel.