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Nico Schlotterbeck has become the head of defense at Borussia Dortmund: Just shut up



Nico Schlotterbeck

In the first half of the season, Nico Schlotterbeck symbolized Borussia Dortmund’s fickleness. In 2023, the most prolific central defender in the Bundesliga gave up the inconsistency. The 23-year-old BVB new signing now stands out in many statistics.

The series probably won’t break, but that wouldn’t be of particular importance anyway. It looks like Nico Schlotterbeck will be able to play for Borussia Dortmund in Saturday’s top-flight game against FC Bayern Munich despite a muscle problem in his left thigh that has seen him withdraw from the German national team.

On Matchday 26 it would be the 26th Bundesliga game that the central defender would play for BVB from the start. Nobody in the Dortmund squad has this record. Schlotterbeck was only substituted twice.

Schlotterbeck’s participation in the game, in which there is so much at stake between the first and second in the table, is more essential than simply expanding his starting XI series. Because the 23-year-old, who came from SC Freiburg in the summer for 20 million euros and is thus the fifth most expensive new signing in Dortmund’s club history, has meanwhile not only been promoted to head of BVB’s defence.

Schlotterbeck’s development also serves as a symbol for the performance explosion in Westphalia in the new year. Where fickleness was the salient characteristic at the beginning of the season, attributes such as the will to win and commitment have now come to the fore.

Schlotterbeck symbolized the BVB inconsistency

Even then, Schlotterbeck symbolized the inconsistency of BVB. In the first half of the season, the national player also delivered good games, but his lack of concentration and individual mistakes, which led to goals being conceded, weighed more heavily. “My game simply has a lot of risks. I’ve tried to minimize them in recent years, but of course I made two or three mistakes too many,” he said in an interview with the West German General Newspaper.

In any case, the interviews: Schlotterbeck is an extroverted and emotional guy, which can certainly have advantages on the pitch. But the form has to be right for this, but that didn’t happen too often with him at first. The statements he made on a regular basis seemed honest, but in view of his achievements, less often would have been more. Just shut up would have been advice to him, which he would probably have worded in a similarly flippant manner.

Schlotterbeck also reflected on this for himself during the winter break, as he told the table football admitted: “I should have maybe done a few less interviews and focused more on my game.” He referred to his inexperience in such terrain, but has learned the following: “It’s a fine line: as long as you perform your best, everything is fine. As soon as the performance is no longer that constant, you will be interpreted negatively if you do a , made two more bold statements. I’ve learned to be more humble and talk less.”

Nico Schlotterbeck is the most prolific defender in the league

Already early in the season in September, the very experienced ex-coach Ewald Lienen made a clear judgment about the defender in the podcast “Der Sechehner”: “I think Nico Schlotterbeck is one of the most talented central defenders in Germany,” said Lienen. “But since he’s been in Dortmund and in the national team, so basically the focus, he’s started to play a role. That’s unfortunate. He speaks up, he animates the audience and in unison with this non-authentic role, he plays, he makes mistake after mistake.”

Since the ball started rolling again in 2023, Schlotterbeck has stopped making mistakes and spoken less often. Of course, Dortmund’s winning streak also helped him shine and get back into shape. Above all, it shows his self-confidence, the high passion and the great fight, which, in addition to his strengths with the ball at his feet, are among the most important components in Schlotterbeck’s player profile.

As a result, the 23-year-old has statistically moved forward in many of the most important categories – and with nine goals involved, five of them in the new year alone, he is the most prolific central defender in the league. Not even players like Jude Bellingham, Joshua Kimmich or Mario Götze can boast that many scorer points.

BVB: Nico Schlotterbeck stands out in many statistics

According to data from opta, Schlotterbeck is the best duel in Dortmund with 67 percent of duels won and is only surpassed by Bayern’s Benjamin Pavard (69%) and Stuttgart’s Konstantinos Mavropanos (68%). None of his BVB defensive colleagues can win more balls per game (7.6). Here Schlotterbeck is in third place in the league.

He clearly outperforms his internal competition in the game with the ball. No other Dortmund player has as many ball actions (89) and passes (75) as Schlotterbeck, no other Bundesliga player plays as many passes under high opposition pressure as he does (17.8 per 90 minutes). In particular, his quite risky diagonal shifts of play are now more common and Schlotterbeck has also found a better set-up for forward runs with the ball over five to ten meters.

If then, as with the flattering win against RB Leipzig at the beginning of the month, spectacular rescue operations are added – Schlotterbeck tackled Christopher Nkunku, who was running towards the goal early on, and thwarted the equalizer on the line in the final minute – the package that BVB got from him is complete promised. Schlotterbeck is currently well on the way to becoming not only a figure of identification for the fans, but also one of the leaders of the team.

Schlotterbeck: “Never said we didn’t want the title”

“We must continue to show every week the mentality, determination and fighting spirit that has characterized us this year,” he recently said sports picture said. Schlotterbeck recently lifted his self-imposed ban on interviews, but his statements reflected a lot of self-criticism.

But he probably just can’t shut up completely, which is by no means reprehensible. “We’ve scored more points than they did this year and are still unbeaten in the league – those are two very good prerequisites,” he said, referring to the top game in the Allianz Arena. “If everyone pulls off their top performance, we can win in Munich. We never said we didn’t want the title.” If these statements don’t fall on his feet, also in view of the disastrous BVB balance sheet at Bayern in the recent past…

BVB: Nico Schlotterbeck and his statistics at Borussia Dortmund

category Value
tackle rate 67 percent
aerial duel rate 65 percent
Tackling Success Rate 57 percent
pass rate 87 percent
Passes per 90 min 75
Ball wins per 90 min. 7.6
Ball actions per 90 min. 89
fouls per 90 minutes 0.6
dribbled per 90 min. 0.7