Achraf Hakimi was the match-winner for Borussia Dortmund against Inter on Tuesday. The 21-year-old right-back scored two goals in the second half, guiding Borussia Dortmund to a 3-2 victory a 2-0 deficit at halftime.
“[Hakimi] is very attacking minded, whether he plays as a winger or defender,” Dortmund head coach Lucien Favre said after the game. “It was a magical night,” Hakimi said.
Four goals in four Champions League games this season. No other Dortmund player has scored more often in Europe’s elite league. “It is kind of odd that I am now the best scorer in the team,” Hakimi said after the game. “But I have trained a lot [perhaps that helps].”
The game highlighted two things for Dortmund. First, the club still lacks a true No. 9—Inter played two and were more efficient in the box. Second, Dortmund has players that can fill the void in the attack. Julian Brandt, Marco Reus, Mario Götze, Thorgan Hazard are all capable of playing as false nines.
Furthermore, in Jadon Sancho, the Black and Yellows also have a scoring dribble machine. As of Wednesday, Hakimi can also be added to the list of players capable of chipping in goals. “He did very well today,” Favre said. “Hakimi can sense an attacking situation on the field.” Not surprisingly, Hakimi is third among Dortmund players in goal conversion, only Paco Alcacer and Mario Götze are more effective in that area.
Fast and direct, Hakimi does indeed play more like a winger rather than a defensive-back. That is also statistically underlined. With 5.25 dribbles per 90 minutes, Hakimi has the third most dribbles per 90 minutes this season, only Sancho (7.63 per 90) and Hazard (6.59 per 90) sought more one-v-one situations.
Attributes that are not too uncommon when it comes to Real Madrid, where he has been on loan from since the summer of 2018. At Los Blancos, first Roberto Carlos and then Marcelo established a tradition of full-backs that defined their game through attacking rather than their defensive attributes.
In truth, neither Marcelo nor Roberto Carlos were particularly defensive-minded. They were simply able to paint over the cracks through their attacking contributions. Hakimi falls into the same category. His attacking awareness has been one reason why Favre has often played him on the wing rather than his “natural position” in the defensive four.
Favre, after all, is a control freak, for whom lack of defensive discipline provides sleepless nights. Among the Black and Yellow delegation, Dortmund’s head coach might have been the only one to have had a sleepless night on Tuesday. Despite his smiles and praise for Hakimi, there was a sense that the first half was not for his liking defensively.
Nonetheless, Hakimi could also be a solution for Dortmund. Favre was often criticized for his conservative approach, a change of plan, however, brought positive results against Borussia Mönchengladbach, Wolfsburg and now Inter Milan. Could an attacking plan with Hakimi, therefore, be an option for the Klassiker on Saturday? “We want to take risks and be courageous,” the head of Dortmund’s licensing department Sebastian Kehl said with an eye on the Klassiker.
But what about beyond the Klassiker for Hakimi? Will he have to return to Real Madrid at the end of the season? On the one hand, Dortmund would undoubtedly like to keep the winger. Real, on the other hand, have been aware of Hakimi’s performances. For Hakimi, the question is whether he wants to trade in guaranteed playing time and an emotional SIGNAL IDUNA Park with sporadic games for Los Blancos?
In current form, however, Hakimi could add a special note to Real’s game. Hakimi is a turbo-winger, who despite his defensive struggles, can add significant punch to Los Blancos’ attack.