Borussia Dortmund leap-frogged third-placed Hoffenheim on Saturday, beating Borussia Monchengladbach 3-2 after initially going in front and then coming from behind in what can only be described as a mightily impressive performance.
With the attack on Dortmund's team bus not even two weeks old, the following player ratings have to be taken with an asterisk.
Thomas Tuchel said on Friday that his team were completely taken out of their action frame of reference, which makes it incredibly hard to objectively judge their performance level. Dortmund, however, were the better side over 90 minutes in a tricky away fixture and battled back to claim a tremendously important three points. They can take a lot of heart away from that ahead of their German DFB Pokal semifinal match at Bayern Munich.
The match in Gladbach was riddled with unforced errors from both teams, resulting in entertainment on the one hand and a lower level of football on the other.
Manager rating out of 10
7 -- Rested Julian Weigl and Lukasz Piszczek, while defender Sokratis Papastathopoulos missed due to a muscle strain and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang started on the bench. Tuchel's lineup was inevitably going to lack coherency due to all of these changes, but the team got the job done all things considered.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Roman Burki, 8 -- Gladbach have enough quality in their ranks that they eventually had to find a way to get the ball to a forward behind Dortmund's back line. Burki was there to save his team's bacon twice in similar situations, as he quickly left his line.
DF Erik Durm, 6 -- Was shaky in build-up play, but used his pace to shut down Gladbach's wingers.
DF Sven Bender, 7 -- Put in a pure routine performance in a makeshift back line.
DF Matthias Ginter, 6 -- Was better positioned than in the game against Monaco.
DF Marcel Schmelzer, 6 -- Scored an awkward own goal in the 48th minute, as he couldn't react quickly enough to a low cross by Oscar Wendt.
MF Nuri Sahin, N/R -- Had only just recovered from injury, but presented himself in fine form. After 15 minutes, Tobias Strobl stepped on Sahin's ankle, prematurely ending the 28-year-old's evening. It would almost be gruesome to see the Turkey international miss out for a longer period.
MF Gonzalo Castro, 5 -- This was not his day. Struggled to give his midfield structure.
MF Raphael Guerreiro, 7 -- Showed a lot of magic when going forward. His header on Castro's free kick in the 87th minute was perfectly placed and won his team all three points.
MF Ousmane Dembele, 7 -- Is sometimes frustrating, sometimes a genius, and showed both on Saturday night. His pinpoint assist for Aubameyang was delicious.
MF Christian Pulisic, 7 -- Huffed and puffed on the left side, making life tough for Gladbach defenders with his pace and intelligent runs. Drew the penalty for Dortmund's early goal, as the visitors capitalised on an individual error from Gladbach. Was unlucky not to be on the scoresheet.
FW Marco Reus, 7 -- Led the line with a high footballing IQ, which made Dortmund's attacks special in the first 15 minutes. Converted the penalty in the 10th minute without any frills.
MF Mikel Merino, 6 -- Was brought on for Sahin and was visibly hesitant with his movement due to a lack of match practise. Was the victim of his team's uninspired build-up play shortly before half-time, as they failed to progress the ball from the last line. The misplaced pass eventually came and it didn't take Mahmoud Dahoud much effort to punish the visitors. Merino showed more courage in the second half.
FW Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, 7 -- Burki said against Schalke that he wished Aubameyang rounded the keeper in a one-on-one situation. The forward did exactly that in the 59th minute here, bringing his team level with his first involvement in the match. A tidy finish that brought Dortmund back into the game.