With a reinvigorating style of play, a feel of traditional ethos and an impressive backup for potential geniuses of the game, Borussia Dortmund looks to be a dominant force in Europe for years to come. It’s the culture of developing players that is finally proving to be immensely fruitful for this German side. It’s bewildering at times, watching so many more budding superstars in fray to wear that coveted yellow jersey someday, and make you feel startled for the next 90 minutes. That for me has been the essence of the Dortmund side.
One of those players has made his road of success look impeccably effortless. Ilkay Gundogan has been one of the greatest things that has happened to the Bundesliga in recent times, and it’s a no-brainer that he’s been a treat to watch. His caravan moved with little anxiety (but mind you, with lots for quality) and his latest destination is where he can finally prove his mettle. His latest act will be on one the greatest stage of the game and while all the marquee performances are expected as ever, we might have some encouraging prospects in our hands.
Gundogan, 22, has been an integral part of this Dortmund midfield unit, anchoring the ship and playing as a traditional defensive midfielder for most of the season. It’s not just about his willingness to keep the ball but also the ability to control the game, which is a rare attribute to develop at a young age. He’s technically gifted and he loves to spray those long passes all over the field. It’s the attacking outfit led by Kagawa and Robert Lewandowski that have benefited so much from his tireless hunting of the ball and then acting as a surreal provider.
Let’s take a look at a detailed report of the lad first full season in the famous yellow jersey of Dortmund.
Name: Ilkay Gundogan
Club: Borussia Dortmund
Preferred foot: Right
Position: Central defensive midfield
League Appearances: 22
League Goals: 3
League Assists: 3
League Passing %: 85.1
Man of the Match: 4 times
For starters, Ilkay has been very efficient in the centre of the field for Dortmund. Throughout the season, his concentration levels were imperious. He had a tackling rate of 2.8 per game, while his interceptions were as good as 2.3 per match. It’s a reflection of all the dirty work he has had to do in order for his side to dominate in the final third. His link-up with his defensive quartet was the highlight of the defensive structure which was maintained without any hassle for most of the past season.
Not known for his attacking game, Gundogan still holds a decent command on the forward movements. His finishing can be surprisingly striker-esque, and with his four goals from a defensive role certainly a job well done.
What really let’s him down at times is his attempts of being a bit too creative with his passing. Although, given his age, his range of passing is terrific, he still has that habit of going far for that ‘Hollywood pass’. However, that decision-making comes with maturity and a bit more responsibility, which he will feel the next few seasons with his league and international sides. Also, he needs to raise his bar when it comes to the aerial duels, a part of his game where the opposition have found something to work with.
Overall, Gundogan has been an absolutely priceless addition to Jurgen Klopp’s side this season and his influence on the game was indispensable for most of this fascinating league campaign. He’s still in the learning curve though, and there is no better testing environment than with his national side mates in the Euro Championship in the summer. Of course, it is improbable that he would get enough minutes in the competition. But to be a part of the atmosphere and to train with the first team will do his confidence a lot of good. I’ll be looking forward to another season of Gundogan, only this time there will be immense expectations from my side.
Here’s a sneak-peek to the sheer quality that you associate with Ilkay Gundogan. Enjoy!