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By The Atlas Lions, Dec 20 2018 07:53PM


Achraf Hakimi has been something of a revelation for Borussia Dortmund fans. The young Moroccan fullback has provided the Germans with a newfound sense of energy and athleticism on the right AND the left, helping propel the Yellow and Black to the top of the Bundesliga table.


In an interview with BVB Matchday Magazine, Achraf talks about his adjustment to life in a new country and explains why he decided to move to Dortmund.


Highlights From The Interview

You came here half a year ago? What can you tell us about this time? (1:46)


Achraf: “I’m very happy to play for Dortmund. It was difficult for me to adjust because I came from another country and from another language, so I had to adjust and do all this stuff. The truth is that it was a difficult process, but now I’m very content and happy.


Why did you want to go to another country? (2:16)


Achraf: “I grew up in all the Real Madrid youth teams and the truth is that it has been a difficult process, and I needed a change in my personal and footballing life. I needed to grow as a footballer with a lot more minutes and to achieve big things in my career, and it was the right moment to do it. Currently everything is going great and I hope it continues for much longer.”


You became a football player at Real Madrid, where winning is part of the club’s self-conception. Did you bring that self-confidence with you to Dortmund? (7:47)


Achraf: “Yes, I am always a winner, I am always very competitive. I know that Madrid is a club that inculcates this into you. But, always in my life, even with my friends, when I play on the Playstation or whatever, I always hate to lose and I get really upset. So, also in my personal life, I like to be a winner and be competitive.”


What are the differences between La Liga and the Bundesliga? If there are any, what is the biggest one? (8:35)


Achraf: “In the Spanish league, you play a little more of a possession game. But here, I believe that some teams also try to have the ball. But I believe that the difference here is that they play more back and forth. In Spain, you play with a little bit more control of the ball.”


What’s typically Spanish and what’s typically Moroccan about you? (9:10)


Achraf: “What’s typically Moroccan about me, is my religion and all the food my mom always cooked when I was young. What’s typically Spanish about me... are my friends and that I grew up in Spain and that I know a little bit about the Spanish life.”



By The Atlas Lions, Dec 11 2018 01:27PM

(BBC Sports) Morocco's defender Achraf Hakimi, who is on loan from Real Madrid at German club Borussia Dortmund, has won a second Bundesliga's Rookie of the Month award.


The 20-year-old beat strikers Jean-Philippe Mateta of Mainz and Fortuna Düsseldorf's Dodi Lukebakio to November's prize, after winning it in September.


His brace of awards mean he earns a nomination for the award as the Bundesliga Rookie of the season.


If he wins the end-of-season title he will succeed compatriot Amine Harit, who was the Bundesliga's Rookie for the 2017/18 season.


An ever-present in the squad, the Moroccan has made a strong impact as Dortmund remain unbeaten in the league and currently sit top of the Bundesliga table.


The Real Madrid academy graduate made nine league appearances for the Spanish club under Zinedine Zidane last season.


As well as his league appearances Hakimi also played five times in the Copa del Rey and twice in the Champions League before sealing a two-year loan switch to Germany in July.


"We will try to do what we did with Paco [Alcacer, who was signed on permanent deal from Barcelona recently]," said Dortmund CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke.


German legend Lothar Matthaus is the face of the award and chooses his top three players every month, after data is used to say who is performing the best in the league.


Hakimi, an attacking full-back, started all three of Morocco's games at the World Cup in Russia before they were eliminated in the group stage.


He has played all the Group B matches so far as the Atlas Lions sealed a return to next year's Africa Cup of Nations.

By The Atlas Lions, Oct 31 2018 09:08PM

(Bundesliga.com) Aged just 19 years old, Achraf Hakimi has made an immediate impact in his career at Borussia Dortmund, having already shown that he can shine in a team that now sits three points clear at the top of the table.


The Real Madrid loanee, Bundesliga Rookie of the Month for September, has been involved in a goal every 90 minutes from right-back, assisting two after scoring one on his debut. He followed that up with a stunning hat-trick of assists in the remarkable 4-0 UEFA Champions League win over Atletico Madrid. So who is this new player that has announced his arrival with a bang?


bundesliga.com investigates…


As Dortmund coach, Lucien Favre opted for the experience of veteran Lukasz Piszczek for the opening matches of the season; Hakimi had to wait patiently until Matchday 5 to make his first appearance for his new club. When newly promoted Nuremberg made the trip to the Signal Iduna Park at the end of September, the Swiss tactician rested the Polish right-back in favour of the young Morocco international.


Favre’s faith was repaid handsomely in the 49th minute when Hakimi collected a cross-field pass from captain Marco Reus and slotted the ball neatly into the bottom right corner. His first goal from his first shot in his first match opened the floodgates as Dortmund ran riot in a 7-0 rout.


"He played very well," Favre admitted. "You can tell that he likes to get forward. He's very young, only 19, but he's worked very well. He's quick, a talented dribbler and comfortable with one-on-ones. He has a big future ahead of him and a huge amount of untapped potential."


Hakimi has played every Bundesliga minute since. He has provided more than adequate cover at right-back when Piszczek was sidelined by muscle complaints. In wins over Bayer Leverkusen and Augsburg, Hakimi played the role of creator for Paco Alcacer and Mario Götze, respectively. When Piszczek returned to the starting line-up, rather than dropping to the bench, the new signing demonstrated his versatility and swapped flanks to take up the left-back berth.


Such flexibility will come as no surprise to any who paid attention to the young footballer’s career prior to his arrival in Germany. Born in Madrid to Moroccan parents, Hakimi put pen to paper in summer 2018 on a two-year loan deal from Real Madrid after playing every minute, at left-back, for Morocco at the World Cup in Russia. While his signing may have got lost among the Axel Witsel, Abdou Diallo, and Thomas Delaney-shaped influx of talent at BVB, Dortmund hailed Hakimi as “a young, very dynamic full-back who has played at the highest level.”


That dynamism has shone through in performances at right-back; in his three appearances in the position, Hakimi has made a league-leading 32 sprints per 90 minutes and achieved an impressive top speed of 21.5 miles per hour. He has additionally demonstrated a willingness to get involved in the play, making an average of 99.3 touches per match, second only to Bayern Munich’s Joshua Kimmich in the position (103.9). His more experienced Dortmund colleague Piszczek has come close to Hakimi’s top speed, reaching 21.1 mph in 30.5 sprints himself, but only gets on the ball an average of 79 times per 90 minutes.


Perhaps most impressive are the numbers Hakimi has put up as an attacking threat. In his three Bundesliga appearances at right-back, the Moroccan has been involved in three goals, the most of any player in his position, despite having played the fewest minutes (270).


And what to say about his sensational Champions League outing against Atletico? It wasn't Hakimi's debut in the competition - he played both group games for Real against Tottenham last term - but this performance was on another level, as the young international set up Witsel, Raphael Guerreiro and Jadon Sancho on his way to a hat-trick of assists. His efforts will have delighted Favre, and no doubt raised a smile or two back at his parent club.


"Achraf is extremely important out wide, in the way he runs up and down the touchline," Reus declared. "It helps us a lot. He's very quick, and we needed that today, he played really well. The young players are enjoying themselves and we have enough experienced players as well. There's a very good mix in the team."


"Most of the time, Juanfran didn't know where he was," added former Bayern midfielder Dietmar Hamann, now a pundit for Sky Germany. "He was simply too quick and too good for him today."


When setting up goals, his favoured weapon is his right boot, which he uses to deliver inch-perfect crosses to teammates waiting in the box. While he may only be 19, Hakimi’s statistics also show a footballing intelligence and composure more common among old hands; with a pass completion rate of 90.5 per cent, only Kimmich again posts better numbers (90.8 per cent).


However, a further look into the figures shows that the Moroccan still has room for improvement. While he doesn’t shy away from a tackle, Hakimi has emerged the victor in only 42.9 per cent of the duels he has contested. In the air, this figure drops to zero. In comparison, the assurance provided by an experienced player like Piszczek becomes apparent. The Polish defender has been successful with 56.2 per cent of his tackles, and won over 60 per cent of his aerial duels. Additionally, he covers more ground per 90 minutes (7.03 miles on average) than his younger teammate (6.66 miles on average).


Nevertheless, for a player not even out of his teenage years, and yet to reach double-digit appearances in the league, Hakimi has hit the ground running and can stake a strong claim to be considered the top right-back of the 2018/2019 Bundesliga season. Come the end of his two-year loan deal in June 2020, Dortmund might be champing at the bit for the chance to make their emerging star a permanent fixture at the Signal Iduna Park.


Source: https://www.bundesliga.com/en/news/Bundesliga/is-achraf-hakimi-the-bundesliga-s-best-right-back-borussia-dortmund-515672.jsp?smartformat=true%26utm_source%3Dsmartformat%26utm_medium%3Dproducts%26utm_term%3Denglish%26utm_content%3Darticle&fbclid=IwAR0HKdFFK_75EcsksEkHYg3Dj-9H6lHfXOxRA79vzYYt3jLT9kadbCfpxjM

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