How did Jadon Sancho get his goals and assists for Borussia Dortmund?
In 104 Bundesliga appearances for Borussia Dortmund, Jadon Sancho averaged a goal or assist every 90 minutes. bundesliga.com takes a closer look back at the England international's extraordinary numbers to see exactly where, when and how he acted as BVB's most lethal attacking outlet…
Let's start by having a look at the evolution of Sancho's position for Dortmund, dating back to his senior debut as a substitute in a Bundesliga match against Eintracht Frankfurt on 21 October 2017. Back then, Lucien Favre deployed his men in a 4-2-3-1 formation, with Sancho occupying one of the wide attacking midfield positions, lining up 10 times on the left and twice on the right in his first 12 league outings.
After being left out in the cold at Manchester City, Sancho had found his true calling. Even when Favre opted for a 3-4-3 formation that involved Achraf Hakimi and Raphael Guerreiro pushing up to occupy the wing-back positions, Sancho was used left or right of the central striker 99.9 percent of the time.
In 2018/19 and 2019/20, the Englishman showed a leaning towards the right-hand side. In his final 10 Bundesliga outings down the 2020/21 back straight, he hit peak form on the left of BVB's attacking trident. The exception? The 2019/20 Matchday 29 demolition of Paderborn, when he started at centre-forward and just happened to bag his first professional hat-trick.
Watch: The tactical evolution of Jadon Sancho's game
All told, Sancho put away 38 Bundesliga goals. The Londoner’s first full season of Bundesliga football yielded 12 goals in 34 appearances, putting him third in the Dortmund scoring charts behind Paco Alcacer (18) and captain Marco Reus (17).
That number climbed to a career-best 17 in 2019/20, despite featuring in two fewer games. The only men ahead of him were Bayern Munich's Robert Lewandowski (34) and RB Leipzig's Timo Werner (28), both their side's principal striker and designated penalty-taker.
Sancho missed seven matches through injury in 2020/21, but still produced eight goals, including six between Matchdays 14 through 23, and briefly ranked as the youngest player to reach 36 goals. Only subsequent record-breaker Erling Haaland found the net more often in Dortmund colours (27 goals). Reus also netted eight, albeit from 32 appearances to Sancho’s 26.
So, where did the goals come from? Unsurprisingly, for a player of his pace and technical prowess, Sancho grabbed 36 of his 38 Bundesliga strikes from open play, with a penalty and an effort following a free-kick the exceptions.
Despite being regularly deployed down both flanks, he clearly favoured his right foot, putting away 33 goals with his right boot and just five with his left. Perhaps unsurprisingly for a player standing at a relatively average height of 5'9", he did not score a single header.
Another striking feature of Sancho's finishing is that all but one of his 38 Bundesliga goals came from inside the penalty area. A genuine fox-in-the-box, the 20-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.
He put away 11 of his goals from the left side of the box, nine from the right, and 17 from central positions, which underlines how difficult it was for opposition defenders and goalkeepers to track his movement.
Watch: Sancho's top 5 Bundesliga goals
What’s more, Sancho’s goals were something of a good luck charm. Dortmund did not lose a single one of the 32 Bundesliga matches in which he scored, winning 26 and drawing six. As well as grabbing that maiden career hat-trick against Paderborn, he helped himself to four braces. And there were no fewer than 17 outings in which he registered at least one goal and one assist.
Service with a smile
Supplementing his 38 Bundesliga goals, Sancho weighed in with 45 assists. He set up a league-high 14 in 2018/19, and went two better the following campaign, albeit losing his crown to Bayern’s Thomas Müller, who set a new single-season assists record with 21. The ex-Man City youth player reached double figures once more in 2020/21, bookending his four during the second half of 2017/18 with a further 11.
Sancho's tendency to make a difference with his right foot is even more pronounced when looking at his assist stats. Only a handful of the 28 goals he set up over 2019/20 and 2020/21 came via his left boot. That being said, the danger came from all sides, through the middle, from open play and set-pieces. And while one might assume that Haaland was the chief beneficiary of Sancho's altruism, he actually assisted no fewer than 14 of his teammates across his final two Bundesliga campaigns.
Watch: All of Sancho's Bundesliga goals and assists in 2019/20
Time after time
Interestingly, Sancho was a great deal more prolific in the second half of games, registering 23 of his goals and over 60 percent of his assists after the interval. 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, Sancho has 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 83 Bundesliga goals - 114 in 137 appearances in all competitions. The concern for his future opponents is that the 21-year-old only seems to get better with age.
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