March 27, 2023

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Can is one of the best players in 2023. Without him, Dortmund would hardly have won

“Frank help to Italian teams.” Fans believe that the draw was made convenient for Serie A clubs

“Frank help to Italian teams.” Fans believe that the draw was made convenient for Serie A clubs


Perhaps, when watching the second match of the 1/8 finals of the Champions League between Borussia and Chelsea, the thought slipped through your mind: “How did Dortmund win 10 times in a row with such a game?” But this thought hardly appeared when Emre Can came into play. When he stabilized possession, sitting down to play the ball between the central defenders, when he cleaned up after partners, when he simply won another duel for the ball. 

Can is one of the main characters of Dortmund at the start of 2023. Almost certainly the most sudden hero since he wasn’t even a major player in the fall of 2022. How is Emre useful and how was he able to reboot?

Until 2023, Can gave the worst stretch in his career. Borussia were unhappy with him

In 15 rounds of the Bundesliga before the pause in the World Cup, Can started only three times, and Dortmund scored only one point in these matches. It’s funny that in the Champions League group he got to the start more often (four times) and even played a strong match against Man City away (1:2), but at a distance he looked slow, unreasonably violent at the joints, weakly felt the rhythm of the game.

The claims are also relevant for the first half of 2022: Marco Rose used Can in the center of defense, Emre regularly made positional errors. There were insiders that the coach and the player had a strained relationship. True, after the departure of Rose and the appointment of Edin Terzic, Can began to play even less.

Before the resumption of the Bundesliga in 2023, Can made sense of the poor form: “In the summer I returned from vacation with an injury and for several months I felt lagging behind. Didn’t play as much as I hoped – in recent years I’ve hardly been on the bench. The season is clearly unsatisfactory. I understand that it should be better. The club understands that too.” According to Sport Bild, Terzić and Dortmund sporting director Sebastian Kehl had a serious talk with Can and Karim Adeyemi during the international break, emphasizing that their quality of football did not meet expectations.

At the same time, Can remained moderate in self-criticism – he said that in Germany they scold him much more willingly and unfairly than they did in Italy and England. And he hinted at team problems that are more important than the level of individual players: “In the fall, we all lacked intensity and aggression in martial arts. There were bad standards at the other side’s goal.” 

There was also a tactically funny episode: Can, in a post-match interview after the defeat to Union (0: 2), praised the opponent’s style (“We were tough in martial arts, did not give freedom with the ball, with problems in defense, they simply took the ball out”) and said that “ Borussia want to play like Union. Journalists reported to Terzic about Can’s words, and Edin said that Dortmund did not want to play like Union: he would have adopted the passion, not the playing pattern.

But Emre still made the team better, starting with himself. He changed the diet, completely eliminating sugar. I consulted a sleep specialist. After consulting with the club, I increased the load in the gym. Sebastian Kehl recorded progress at the training camp: “Emre has found excellent physical shape, now he exudes confidence, I really like his work in martial arts. He said Borussia Dortmund have not yet seen Emre Can at his best.”

Can confirmed this already in 2023: “I complained a lot and pointed the finger at others, downplaying my own guilt. In recent weeks I have focused on myself, I just want to show the maximum of what I expect from myself. And he made a reservation that with a consistently high level of play, he would like to return to the German national team.