By Ultan Corcoran@UltanCorcoran

Bundesliga End of Season Awards: Borussia Dortmund's Player of the Season

Perhaps unlike seasons gone by no one player greatly outshone the rest, but with 4 votes from our team of writers Gregor Kobel picked up the Bundesliga Player of the Season award for Borussia Dortmund.

 

It was always going to be a tough campaign after the heartbreak of last season for coach Edin Terzic and his players. It can be easy as fans to dismiss this pain, but a squad must live with it until they can correct where they fell short and make amends. Such is the pressure of playing for a club with enormous expectations. With key names like Bellingham amongst others departing over the years, it’s hard to fulfil aspirations when necessary replacements don’t arrive or deliver. Dortmund felt that in its entirety as they were forced to settle for their lowest league finish of 5th-place since 2014-15. The same season Jurgen Klopp left after a Hinrunde disaster and Rückrunde recovery.

Throughout all the season, BVB players slugged away. A campaign of inconsistencies – one weekend turning the corner and the other back where they started. Their best seemed to be saved for European competition, but one man by the name of Gregor Kobel delivered across the board. Since his move to Die Schwarzgelben in 2021-22, the Swiss shot-stopper has become somewhat of a fan favourite akin to the legendary Roman Weidenfeller. Although different in style, the pair embodied passion and consistency – attributes which warm the hearts of any Borussen. 

Conceding just 34 goals in 27 appearances which included 7 clean sheets, Kobel kept Dortmund afloat at times almost singlehandedly. With a 75.4% save percentage, the Swiss international ranked only second to Leverkusen’s Hradecký this season. Remarkable considering the latter went unbeaten domestically. Add to that the goals prevented metric in which Kobel kept out a predicted 6.69 worth of goals – his nearest competitor (Hradecký, again) managed just 4.91. Valued at €40million (Transfermarkt.com), the 26-year-old also boasts exceptional distribution and composure which is a cornerstone of any modern goalkeeper. His 6’ 5” stature presented a pillar of safety for Dortmund at the back and will continue to do so going forward.

STANDOUT PERFORMANCE:

Gregor Kobel’s best display came on Matchday 11 away to a high-flying VfB Stuttgart. Things got off to a bad start as he brought Deniz Undav to ground for a penalty in the 10th-minute. Acknowledging his error, Kobel prepped himself for the spot-kick which Chris Führich took. In the blink of an eye, the Swiss goalkeeper sprung to his left to keep it out and smothered the rebound. The 20th minute provided more chaos as Kobel deflected Undav’s low cross before making a point-blank foot block through a field of BVB bodies to deny Enzo Millot. 

Perhaps the save of the half came afterwards when Führich found Leweling on the counter. What appeared to be an easy tap-in ended left home fans gasping as Kobel flung himself in front of the strike. While there was nothing Kobel could do about Undav’s equaliser just before the break, it was clear Dortmund could have been well in arrears but for his brilliance. Although it ended in a 2-1 defeat and Kobel was at fault for a second penalty on 82 minutes which Serhou Guirassy tucked away; nobody pointed fingers at the 26-year-old. A whopping 8 saves, some of which looked physics defying, almost snatched a point for BVB in the Mercedes-Benz Arena. 

HONOURABLE MENTIONS:

The votes were evenly shared among the remaining Borussia Dortmund players. Julian Brandt picked up 2 of his own in a season where he notched 7 goals and 11 assists in 32 matches. Elsewhere, stalwart Mats Hummels led from the back (3 goals, 6 clean sheets, 25 appearances) alongside an athletic Nico Schlotterbeck (2 goals, 9 clean sheets, 33 appearances) who attempted the 2nd-most passes in the Bundesliga with 2657 – both got a vote each. Finally, winter break loanee Ian Maatsen was revolutionary for BVB’s Rückrunde recovery as an inverted full-back capable of beating the press in transition. The Netherlands’ defender tagged on 2 goals and 2 assists in 16 games.

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