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Achraf Records Another Assist; Shines Again At Left-back

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Some notes on Achraf and Raul de Tomas from their respective matches today

After convincingly taking down Atletico 4 - 0 midweek (notes on Achraf’s performance in that match can be found here); Lucien Favre’s men conceded a last minute penalty to Hertha as they drew the match 2-2. Dortmund do remain top of the Bundesliga standings, though, and are still undefeated. Achraf, for the third match running, was the team’s starting left-back, and remained a focal point.

Offense

Achraf provides constant overloads whether he plays on the right or left. In the build-up, a lot of the play goes through him (he consistently is in the top tier of players on Dortmund who receive the bulk of touches, and in this match, he had the most of anyone on the field), and offensively, his biggest trait remains how quickly he can pass and move into the half-space or in-behind the defensive lines.

Against Atletico, that got him into great positions to run into space (something that can be rarely said about anyone facing a Simeone scheme), and today, it got him into goalscoring positions. On this particular sequence, his movement and pace from a deep position gets him past everyone and through on goal (just look where he is at the top of the clip):

On Dortmund’s second goal, Acrahf’s quick movement to receive a pass takes out the wing-back and causes the Hertha defense to collapse. Marcos Reus dummy ensues (which means Achraf picks up the assist), and Dortmund score:

Achraf’s offensive confidence this season is on an entirely different level than last season, and one thing he’s been doing more under Favre is getting into shooting positions from outside the box:

Defense

Achraf struggled offensively with Real Madrid last season, but showed really strong signs of defensive IQ. This season with Dortmund, he’s looked dangerous offensively while looking shaky defensively. Not every defensive collapse that happens on his side is his fault — he’s asked to play a very gung-ho role high up the pitch, and if Dortmund give the ball away, he relies on his teammates to cover him in transition:

Other times, Achraf will be facing an attacker, and his individual defense fails him:

On one occasion, with the ball at his feet deep in Dortmund’s half, he lost possession and put him team in a tough spot:

Overall, Achraf looks really good. He finished the match with a game-high 114 touches, completed 89.7% of his game-high 78 passes, slung one key pass, had four tackles, and five interceptions.

Achraf heat map vs Hertha. Via WhoScored.


Elsewhere, Raul de Tomas played the full 90 in Rayo’s loss to Girona earlier today.

Again, Rayo had a hard time getting the ball to de Tomas (who is usually isolated this season) the ball regularly. They had a lot of issues today passing the ball out of their backline, and though Girona pressed well throughout, some of Rayo’s passing in open play was just bad. Here’s a sequence that encapsulates their season a bit — hesitant clearance and a bad outlet pass to get de Tomas the ball on the counter:

De Tomas did have five shots, none of them better than this opportunity, where he fails to capitalize on a gift from Girona defender Jonas Ramalho:

This match was all about Portu, really. Girona went into this game without Stuani and Mojica, but Portu was excellent to make up for it. He had his way with Amath on the right flank and scored a brace. If he didn’t leave the game injured in the second half, this 2 - 1 scoreline could’ve been worse. Rayo did pile on the pressure after Portu’s injury, and nearly came all the way back after Galvez scored a rebound from an initial RDT header:

That’s as close as Rayo got, and their disappointing season continues.