24th February 2017. By Edward Stratmann.
You have to go back over four years to the last time Borussia Dortmund's superb right back, Lukasz Piszczek, was involved in scoring or assisting three goals in one game.
On the 25th of December, 2012, he bagged a pair of assists and found the back of the net once in BVB's 6-1 demolition of Koln. On the weekend, the Polish international impressively repeated the feat in his team's dominant 3-0 drubbing of Wolfsburg.
While he had to wait a while to echo such an amazing achievement, it was definitely well worth the wait, in a game where Piszczek put in a scintillating man of the match performance littered with upside. Although one of his assists was directed into the back of the net by Wolfsburg defender Jeffrey Bruma, following his inventive delivery into the box, his goal and second assist were all down to him.
His goal showcased his fine concentration, as he found the back of a net with an expertly placed header after the ball had traveled through a sea of bodies in the box. Then, his sublimely weighted lofted assist for Ousmane Dembele's 59th minute header capped off his night beautifully.
Piszczek's immense contribution extended far beyond his tangible attacking output, however, for he played a key role in Thomas Tuchel's setup on both sides of the ball.
Seeing as Dortmund absolutely monopolised possession, Piszczek not only acted as a key facilitator in retaining possession but also as a crafty instigator of many an attacking move. By positioning himself high and wide on the right flank, this forced Wolfsburg's left central midfielder, Yannick Gerhardt, to regularly be dragged out wide to mark him. Moreover, courtesy of Piszczek being in such an advanced location, in combination with the Wolves sitting in a deep block, this also gave Dortmund centre-back Mathias Ginter oceans of space to carry the ball forward in the right half space, knowing Gerhardt was occupied by Piszczek and Wolfsburg's two central attackers didn't adequately cover him.
Another key byproduct of the former Hertha Berlin dynamo operating in the aforementioned zone was that it created vital openings for the ever switching Dembele and Gonzalo Castro, from their attacking midfield roles, to utilise the space manufactured when Gerhardt pushed wide to mark Piszczek. They did so effectively too, regularly receiving under limited pressure, before turning and charging forward towards the struggling Wolfsburg defence.
Piszczek's accomplished, well rounded passing ability enabled him to link play incisively himself too, playing a catalogue of intricate balls into the feet of his teammates to help breach Valerien Ismael's men's defensive structure. This, in tandem with the manner in which Dembele (or Castro), Andre Schurrle and often Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang would push to the left, in order to form diamonds and triangles to get around their opposition ensured BVB's left sided dynamic was a constant thorn in Wolfsburg's side.
Despite not having as much to do as he usually would defensively, Piszczek undertook his stopping work with plenty of intensity, energy and diligence. Using his strong anticipation and capacity to brilliantly time his tackles, he chimed in with a plethora of vital interventions to stop plenty of Wolfsburg attacks dead in their tracks. Indeed, his five tackles, one interception and two clearances suitably demonstrated his quality in this regard.
While the Westfalenstadion Stadiun had a slightly eerie feel to it as a result of the section where Dortmund's famous Yellow Wall are typically situated, which houses 25,000 fans, being closed due to the shocking actions of some supporters when RB Leipzig came to town, Piszczek's breathtaking display certainly gave the fans inside the ground something to cheer about.
An awestruck Tuchel duly lavished praise on the 31-year-old, who's been in sizzling form in recent weeks and now even took over the mantle of the highest scoring defender in the Bundesliga, in his post match comments. "He has been in outstanding form over the past few weeks. He played brilliantly against Leipzig, but unfortunately he had to come off at half-time against Hertha and missed the Darmstadt game. He was back for Benfica and played outstandingly. And he was exceptional again today."
He then went on to add what a vital asset he is for the Black and Yellows, both on and off the pitch, explaining: "We're truly lucky to have him in our team, both in a playing and personal capacity. There's never a day that goes by when we don't see him smiling.
"Lukasz Piszczek is incredibly professional, and a real family man too. I get the feeling that he feels very happy at this moment in time. He's really conscientious, a role-model, the best you could hope for. He embodies everything that is good about BVB and what BVB should stand for. I'm absolutely delighted that he's in such good form and that he shows it so consistently."
Even though he's entered into the latter stages of his career, there's no doubting Piszczek is still one of the premier right backs in European football.
And with Dortmund facing an absolutely crucial period in their season in the coming weeks, you can guarantee Piszczek's multifaceted skillset and instrumental leadership, plus his unheralded goal scoring prowess, will see him do all he can to ensure they come through this tough stretch with flying colours.
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Lukasz Piszczek Showing His Best Form for Borussia Dortmund
24th February 2017. By Edward Stratmann.