bundesliga

How does Jadon Sancho get his goals and assists for Borussia Dortmund?

Jadon Sancho has just enjoyed his most prolific season yet with Borussia Dortmund, showing he is both a world-class taker and maker by racking up 17 goals and 16 assists in the Bundesliga.

bundesliga.com has taken a look back over the England international's extraordinary 2019/20 highlights reel to see exactly where, when and how he acted as BVB's most lethal attacking outlet…

Flank flexibility  

Let's start by having a look at the evolution of Sancho's position for Dortmund in his 32 league appearances this term. At the start of the campaign, Lucien Favre deployed his men in a 4-2-3-1 formation, with Paco Alcacer in the lone striker role and Marco Reus just behind him at No.10. Sancho occupied one of the wide attacking midfield positions either side of his captain, lining up seven times on the left and three times on the right in his first 10 league outings (up to the 3-3 draw with Paderborn on Matchday 12; he missed the home wins over Borussia Mönchengladbach and Wolfsburg on Matchdays 8 and 10).

After a poor run of results in late November - including a 4-0 defeat to Bayern Munich, that draw with lowly Paderborn, and a 3-1 reverse to Barcelona in the UEFA Champions League - Favre opted to switch to a three-man defence, with Achraf Hakimi and Raphael Guerreiro pushing up to occupy the wing-back positions in a 3-4-3. From the Matchday 13 win over Hertha Berlin onwards, Sancho was therefore deployed higher up the pitch as a wide forward, with Reus now the main striker in place of the injury-hit Alcacer.

Achraf Hakimi (l.) and Jadon Sancho (r.) worked well as right-back and right-winger in 2018/19, and even better as right wing-back and wide forward in 2019/20! - DFL

Reus himself got injured in February, but by that time Dortmund had snapped up Erling Haaland from Red Bull Salzburg in the January transfer window, and the big Norwegian was soon leading the line - and scoring for fun - with Sancho and Thorgan Hazard either side of him. The Englishman showed his versatility by lining up 13 times on the left and eight times on the right in all but one of his 22 league appearances as part of BVB's attacking trident. The exception? The Matchday 29 demolition of Paderborn, when he started at centre-forward and just happened to bag his first professional hat-trick.

Goals galore

Sancho certainly didn't have to wait until the spring to start banging in goals this term. Having already notched 12 in the Bundesliga last season, the 20-year-old clicked into an even higher gear in 2019/20, finishing the campaign in third place in the scoring charts with 17. The only men ahead of him were Bayern's Robert Lewandowski (34) and RB Leipzig's Timo Werner (28), both their side's principal striker and designated penalty-taker (five spot-kicks for Lewandowski, three for Werner). As well as finishing as Dortmund's top scorer in the Bundesliga, Sancho also had the most shots on goal of any BVB player (51).

Watch: ALL 33 of Sancho's goal involvements in 2019/20!

So, where did the goals come from? Unsurprisingly, for a player of his pace and technical prowess, Sancho grabbed 15 of his 17 Bundesliga strikes from open play, with the only exceptions his early-season efforts against Cologne (following a short corner) and Eintracht Frankfurt (after a free-kick). Despite being regularly deployed down both flanks, he clearly favoured his right foot, putting away 14 goals with his right boot and just three with his left. Standing at a relatively average height of 5'9", the BVB star is up to a total of 30 Bundesliga goals since opening his account in April 2018, but he has yet to score a header.

Another striking feature of Sancho's finishing is that all 17 of his goals came from inside the penalty area. A genuine fox-in-the-box, the 11-time England international had a knack of being in the right place at the right time when he didn't have the ball, and driving deep into opposing territory when he did – only three players in the Bundesliga attempted more dribbles (181), and only six had more success (65). He put away five of his goals from the left side of the box, four from the right, and eight from the centre, which emphasises the fact that it wasn't easy for defenders and goalkeepers to track his movement.

All of Jadon Sancho's goals came from inside the box this season - and he needed only 3.3 shots per goal, the third-best ratio in the league. - DFL

Sancho scored the opener in three games this season, equalised twice, and put Dortmund ahead on three further occasions. His goals were also something of a good-luck charm, with Favre's men unbeaten in the 14 matches in which he found the back of the net (W11, D3). As well as grabbing that first career hat-trick against Paderborn, he had a brace in the 5-0 thrashing of Fortuna Düsseldorf on Matchday 14. And there were no fewer than nine outings in which he registered at least one goal and one assist.

Service with a smile

Sancho was already the Bundesliga assist king in 2018/19, laying on 14 goals in 34 appearances, and he managed to go two better in 2019/20. He was unable to defend his crown this time around, as Bayern's Thomas Müller set a new record of 21 assists in a single campaign, but still made a vital contribution with 16 of his own. In total, he had a direct hand in 33 of Dortmund's 84 league goals - accounting for around 40 percent - and played a central role in their title bid, which remained intact until a narrow loss to the record champions on Matchday 28.

Sancho's tendency to make a difference with his right foot is even more pronounced when looking at his assist stats. Only one of the goals he set up this season - Axel Witsel's strike in the big Matchday 20 win over Union Berlin - was done so with his left boot. That being said, the danger came from all sides: he provided six assists from the left flank, five from the right, and three up the middle. He also whipped across inch-perfect corner deliveries for Mats Hummels and Dan-Axel Zagadou on Matchdays 21 (defeat to Bayer Leverkusen) and 23 (victory over Werder Bremen).

Watch: Sancho and Haaland getting their (mostly) teenaged kicks

The 20-year-old was Dortmund's chief assist provider for the campaign with 16 - although Hazard wasn't far behind on 13 - and he might have pushed Müller all the way if his teammates had converted more of the 77 shots on goal that he set up.

One might assume that fellow teen terror Haaland was the chief beneficiary of Sancho's altruism, but he actually only provided one assist for the Norwegian, helping to kick off his stunning debut hat-trick against Augsburg. The London native was happy to share the love, setting up no fewer than 11 of his teammates during the season. He laid on three goals apiece for Alcacer and Hakimi, two for Reus, and one each for Hazard, Nico Schulz, Julian Brandt, Haaland, Guerreiro, Witsel, Hummels and Zagadou. Three of his assists came off the bench (in seven substitute appearances), but he scored all 17 of his goals as a starter.

Time after time

Interestingly, Sancho was a great deal more prolific in the second half of games, registering 14 of his goals and 12 of his assists after the interval (compared to just three and four in the first half). One of the possible reasons for this was that Dortmund's opponents tended to surrender possession and stay compact at the start of games, only opening up if they fell behind and had to chase the game. Physical and mental fatigue were also factors as matches wore on, with the turbo-charged Sancho able to exploit lapses in energy and focus.

Ultimately, in 2019/20 Sancho proved himself one of the most complete attacking players in the Bundesliga and beyond. Equally comfortable down the right and left flanks, capable of beating his man, and boasting the on-field intelligence to know when to pass and when to shoot, the Dortmund sensation had a hand in no fewer than 39 goals in all competitions. And the concern for his future opponents is that he only seems to get better with age.

For BVB, it's back to the drawing board over the summer as they try to plot Bayern's downfall and a return to domestic and European glory in 2020/21. If they do manage to bring more silverware back to the Signal Iduna Park, Super Sancho looks set to play another starring role in their success.

Andy Smith