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Niklas Süle and the upswing at Borussia Dortmund: The provisional clairvoyant



Niklas Süle, BVB

It was recently denigrated as a “three-seater sofa”, but it has a value for the Borussia Dortmund game that is measured in both directions of the field: Niklas Süle has long since become a top performer at BVB – and apparently has clairvoyant abilities.

Before the World Cup break, one had the impression that Niklas Süle and Borussia Dortmund fit together quite well. However, this was less due to numerous particularly strong performances by the free summer newcomer, but rather to the respective ambivalence.

On the one hand BVB, who alternated a few good performances with a few devastating ones, who were easily duped, made mistakes that were difficult to explain and were too soft when things got tough for Borussia. And all this despite the high individual quality in the second most expensive squad in the Bundesliga, which flashed up again and again but far too inconsistently.

And on the other side Süle, whose entire career has been accompanied by a fight for recognition and appreciation, although he has already won 14 titles at club level – as a regular at FC Bayern Munich, the most successful club in the country. Central defender Süle was brilliant there on the field from time to time, but what has stuck in public memory is more his weak games or controversies about a supposedly unprofessional diet.

Much of this is probably related to Sule’s physiognomy. The 1.95 meter giant can naturally appear lanky in his movements and is a pure powerhouse. So it’s no wonder that the Instagram refuser Süle was recently creatively tagged by his teammate Marius Wolf in a photo: Wolf deposited with Süle the link to a 799 euro refrigerator.

BVB: Niklas Süle’s value is measured in both directions

Even for the serious English newspaper Guardians reminds Süle of a “three-seater sofa that was pressed into a football jersey”, as it was written about the 27-year-old after the duels with Chelsea in the Champions League. Like the entire team, Süle had a bad day at Stamford Bridge, but otherwise it has to be said that the former Bayern player has only played two other really weak games this season: on matchday 8 in Cologne (2:3) and on the 15th in Gladbach (2:4).

Otherwise, Süle is more than solid, in 2023 – like the entire team – even very confident. He has played 26 of his 32 competitive games from the start, five goals (one goal, four assists) are quite impressive for a defender.

Süle’s value for BVB is measured in both directions of the field: When it comes to defensive work, he’s more of the type who absorbs the depth and path of his opponent and then boils it down in a running duel – while Nico Schlotterbeck and Mats Hummels defend much more often forwards.

Niklas Süle fifth fastest central defender in the Bundesliga

Süle can play like this because, despite his physique, he achieves a very high top speed that at first glance you might not think he is capable of. But Süle’s top speed this season of 34.6 kilometers per hour is only surpassed by four other central defenders in the league (Wolfsburg’s Micky van de Ven at 36.4 km/h, Bayern’s Dayot Upamecano at 35.7 km/h, Wolfsburg’s Maxence Lacroix at 35.2 km/h and Stuttgart’s Konstantinos Mavropanos at 34.7 km/h).

Süle therefore rarely needs risky tackles. But when he tries to tackle, no one is more successful than he: With a rate of 79 percent, Süle has the best value among all central defenders in the Bundesliga who attempted at least as many tackles as he did (14). Accordingly, Süle rarely plays fouls, no other central defender has a lower foul play average per 90 minutes (0.4). Süle has never had to serve a yellow card suspension in his career.

With the ball at his feet, the 45-time international is also important. Not only because this happens often – only Schlotterbeck (88) has more than Süles on average 87 ball actions per game. His pass rate of 90 percent is only surpassed by three other central defenders (Bayern’s Matthijs de Ligt with 91 percent and the two Gladbachers Ko Itakura with 92 and Nico Elvedi with 93 percent).

Niklas Süle and his clairvoyant abilities

In addition to being calm on the ball, it is above all the line-breaking flat passes in the build-up that make Süle so valuable for the BVB game. They cover up the opponent’s pressing and set the scene for the offensive players, who can then open up between the lines. This was exemplified by his assist for the 4-0 win against Cologne, with Süle also having his feet in the game when the three previous goals were scored.

Dortmund and Süle have shaken off the ambivalence this year. The consistency in performance that is now so high was hardly foreseeable, nor was the fact that they led to the first table lead since 2019 due to a weakening FC Bayern. Perhaps one should have paid more attention to Süle’s words before the start after the World Cup break and not met with plenty of malice.

“The table situation is only preliminary,” he said in January world on Sunday said and was often smiled at on social media because Borussia was five places and nine points behind the top of the table. “I can still remember well that BVB was nine points ahead of Bayern and that Bayern finally became champions after all.” You are “far away”, said Süle, “already giving up” the goals for the season.

It remains to be seen whether Süle’s clairvoyant abilities, such as the table image in winter, are only temporary. Only shortly after the eight days proclaimed by coach Edin Terzic as “so far the most important week of the season”, which brought two disappointments with the end of the CL and the loss of points in the Revierderby, Süle will soon be facing a possibly decisive phase again with BVB.

Niklas Süle praises BVB’s “really great dynamics”.

Starting with the top game in Munich on April 1, the Westphalians have seven days in which many things can come to a head. Shortly thereafter, Leipzig is about the semi-finals of the cup, then an unpleasant opponent awaits in front of the home crowd against Union Berlin, who is only five points behind the Black and Yellows. “We’re there when it comes to the sausage,” Terzic rejoiced on Saturday.

“I don’t think there is anyone in the team who hasn’t understood what a huge opportunity we have,” Süle said a few days ago, praising the “great dynamic in the team”. The hope he expressed in January for a “strudel”, as he called it, “so that we can win the games more naturally”, has also come true.

The reasons why Süle opted for BVB no longer seem to be as “inexplicable” as Bayern’s CEO Oliver Kahn found at the Munich annual general meeting in mid-October. Rather, the impression has been strengthened that Süle and BVB really go together quite well.

BVB: Niklas Süle and his statistics at Borussia Dortmund in the 2022/23 season

category Value
tackle rate 59 percent
aerial duel rate 60 percent
Tackling Success Rate 79 percent
pass rate 90 percent
Passes per 90 min 74
Ball wins per 90 min. 6.2
Ball actions per 90 min. 87
fouls per 90 minutes 0.4
dribbled per 90 min. 0.3