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Borussia Dortmund Tactical Analysis @TomPayneftbl Tom Payne 11/23/2013

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Team Information Dortmund have subdued to a considerable decline over the course of the first half of the season. This has mainly been due to the long list of injuries which have plagued the German side. The last six games before the break in particular have seen the team struggle, averaging 0.6 points per game. A number of key players have been out injured, currently their two predominant centre-backs – Mats Hummels and Neven Subotic unavailable, the former will be back before the next game however it is unlikely that Subotic will feature again this season. Vital midfielder Ilkay Gundogan has only just returned after 4 months out whilst Piszczek missed pre-season with an injury spanning 5 months (until 22/11/2013) and also-full-back Schmelzer has been away from the squad for over 2 months collectively. Offensively, Dortmund are known for their high tempo and verticality into the ‘3’. With an energetic attack they’re extremely quick and look to play between the lines of defence and midfield. In terms of defense, Dortmund are renowned for their ‘gegenpressing’ – the art of pressing intensely in high areas upon losing possession initially. Despite key players leaving in the past 2 years (Gotze, Kagawa) Dortmund have always replaced successfully and possess a strong squad in attack. Their key player going forward is their striker Lewandowski, who possesses their highest average rating of 7.87, with 11 goals in 16 appearances. A lot of Dortmund’s attacking play is based around Lewandowski, who is excellent at bringing others into play whilst also being able to be threatening as an individual also. However like many of their key players, Lewandowski is set to leave the club, joining Bayern Munich – following the footsteps of Mario Gotze in the summer. Another Dortmund attacker is their second best player – Marco Reus. Arriving from Borussia Monchengladbach in the 2012/13 season, he is currently averaging a rating of 7.66 a game, with the joint-highest assists (5) and 3rd highest goals (8). He normally is positioned on the left flank but has featured centrally behind Lewandowski too – that being said his role is quite free and will drift around the front line at times. His main strengths include running at players, making through balls and set piece delivery. In a deeper position, Nuri Sahin plays an important role at holding midfield. Crucial in their 1st and 2nd phases of possession, he is an excellent long passer and also is accurate at set pieces. On average he makes the most passes per game (65.8) and the joint-highest amount of through balls (0.4).

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Attacking Organisation In attacking play, Dortmund organise themselves in a 4-2-3-1 formation (changing dependent on phase of possession), with a significant emphasis on maintaining an electric tempo, taking advantage of their extremely quick attacking players, intimidating support and passionate team mindset.

Phase 1 – Construction from Defence Their build up in phase 1 varies in style; they’re strong in both short and long build up. Their suitability with both styles suggests that an increase in pressing against them doesn’t have a worthwhile advantage; however it does in some circumstances change their organisation.

Short Build-Up During build up of possession in phase 1, the playmaker Nuri Sahin keeps a deep position in front of the centre-backs, whilst the other CM (Bender) pushes up. In this position, the triangle created with Sahin and the 2 centre-backs form a good foundation to build upon.

Sahin is vertically-oriented in terms of passing directions, with the target being Dortmund’s ‘3’ between the lines. Dortmund’s attacking midfield 3 focus their play around positioning behind the opposition midfield, in space so it is vital to stop them receiving possession using cover shadowing to block the pass. In Dortmund’s 0-3 loss at home to Bayern the opposition fielded Javi Martinez in an advanced position to stop Sahin. His reaction to being pressed is to make a wall pass, working in the triangle between the CBs which often results in 1 player being free. Even if Sahin is being targeted, Dortmund still attempt to base their play around direct passes forward, but have less capable passers performing this job. In the example shown, Friedrich makes a direct pass aimed at Reus, which is easily intercepted and Bayern initiate a counter-attack.

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Leverkusen were also successful in nullifying Dortmund at home, winning 1-0. In Dortmund’s 1st phase of possession Gonzalo Castro pushed up from midfield to create a 4-2-3-1 shape. Whilst Kießling pressed the defence, Leverkusen’s ‘3’ sat narrow, marking both Sahin and Bender to stop them receiving the ball easily. Behind this, the ‘2’ of Simon Rolfes and Sven Bender protected against direct passes from deep towards Dortmund’s attacking players.

In this game, the most common pass combination was from Sahin to Sokratis (13) (wall pass) whereas the passes of Sahin to Reus and Sahin to Blaszczykowski occurred just once each. The only goal of the game came from high pressing by Leverkusen’s ‘3-1’. Son pressed Friedrich whilst the other Leverkusen players (Castro, Kießling and Can) marked other short passing options – Großkreutz and Sahin). Friedrich attempted a pass to the forward which was intercepted by Emre Can leading to a swift counter-attack goal. In comparison to his centre-back teammates, Friedrich is more reluctant to make long passes (he makes an average of 5 less long passes than the combined average of his CB teammates), so it may be beneficial to target him in a press with the potential for him to make these errors.

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If you were to play in a high block defensive system against Dortmund, it would give a great advantage to use aspects of Leverkusen’s system, as they did excellently in defence to prevent Dortmund’s attackers from making an influence.

Long Build-Up Dortmund’s deeper players, the centre-backs and Sahin, all make a considerably large amount of long passes per game, which are generally directed out wide, to the advanced full-backs and wide players.

Any central long passes are directed to Lewandowski, playing with his back to the goal. The ‘3’ of Dortmund react extremely quickly in these moments and make runs behind the opposition midfield where they can collect the ball off of the striker. Then, just like after a direct pass in the short build up, the tempo of the attack increases instantly as Dortmund look to attack the opposition backline with 4 players themselves (ST + 3 attacking midfielders).

It is vital for there to be minimal space between the midfield and defensive lines during these situations, whilst the midfielders (not the defenders) have to be able to cover the runs of Reus et al. A good way to prevent this would be to deploy a defensive midfielder (or two) and maintain a compact and narrow shape.

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Dortmund’s attack does lack in height and Lewandowski is the only target for long passes, who isn’t particularly tall (6ft) but is competent in the air and excellent at bringing others into play. Defenders should only challenge him in the air if necessary - if they leave their position a Dortmund forward will look to exploit that. Instead, a defensive midfielder is a more suitable candidate, in this situation it is necessary to have very narrow and dense organisation though as the midfielders will the need support covering the attacking midfielders.

Goalkeeper Distribution

Enough pressure by a first wave of 2 will often force a back pass to the goalkeeper, and if this is followed up by one forward then a long kick is normally the result. Dortmund have predominantly used two goalkeepers this year; Weidenfeller and young Langerak – the latter favours a direct pass much more than contributing to short build up play (makes on average 6 long passes per game), whereas Weidenfeller is more indifferent and is more confident when passing short (making a smaller 4.3 long passes per game).

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Long Ball

When a long pass from a goal kick is made, Dortmund are very quick to surround the area with yellow shirts, positioning themselves infront of an opposition player normally to maximise their chances of winning the second ball. Their organisation ‘constricts’ around the ball, with their dense numbers around the area and valiant, determined mood they’re very good in these situations. Because the players leave their positions in these situations, it does create a susceptibility to counters however, the more advanced players can drop into these spaces in case their team does win the second ball, such as Higuain in the above example. Short Pass When Dortmund look to make short-build up from the goalkeeper, the centre-backs usually collect possession however if the opposition are pressing in advanced positions, a central midfielder will drop to create a numerical advantage. It may be too risky to press this high up however, as committing men forward may leave too much uncovered space in deeper areas, where a quick attack from a direct pass could be problematic. Throwing The right-handed Weidenfeller is good at throwing the ball out, and is often made to initiate counter-attacks. Their destination is usually to either winger who are sitting in the space which a fullback has left after committing themselves forward in the attack.

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Phase 2 – Preparation through Midfield In phase 2, there is an emphasis on verticality from the 2 deep midfielders (mainly Sahin) in order to progress the ball onto attacking midfield and phase 3.

Dortmund generally maintain their 4-2-3-1 formation. The only variations are with rotation of positions between the narrow ‘3’ and the advanced full-backs providing the width on the second line in a 2-4-3-1. In a low passive defensive block it is vital to deny the ‘3’ space and keep a man in front of Sahin at all times, pressing him quickly and blocking the direct pass.

Sahin is vital to Dortmund in their 2nd phase due to his excellent long passing, vision and tactical awareness. He makes on average the highest amount of passes per game – 65.8 with an accuracy of 79.3%.

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Dortmund look to create space in between the lines to make the vertical passes more effective, mainly through increasing the depth of the opposition organisation. With the pace of the ‘3’, they will look to force the defensive line back with threatening runs. It is of great importance to minimize the space between midfield and defence lines. Without a holding midfielder, Dortmund can quite easily create the space to take advantage of this.

With one holding midfielder and 2 CMs in a 4-1-4-1, Sahin can be pressed effectively whilst the passing lanes to attacking players are covered to restrict the precise vertical passes from the Turk. Dortmund’s 3 also look to the half-spaces to receive possession. With full-backs providing the width, they wide players in the ‘3’ can play inside and use the lack of cover in the half spaces to find the vertical pass.

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A counter to their positioning in the half spaces is to field 3 central midfielders. The most suited orientation of the midfielders would be to have one defensive in a 4-1-4-1 system.

The below diagram highlights the importance of a well-structured press and covering behind the lines of confrontation. In a 4-2-3-1 mid block, the ‘3-1’ can enforce pressure higher up, though still sitting between (/isolating) the two sections of Dortmund (‘4-2’ – ‘3-1’). The two CDMs can sit and control the deeper space, with the main role of intercepting the vertical passes.

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Because of their extremely fast attacking, the 2nd phase is often skipped to phase 3, due to the intentions of having the ‘3’ on the ball as quickly as possible. If the opposition are organised too well in phase 3, they will often revert back into phase 2 as a CM (usually Sahin) positions themself in deep space overlooking the play. This allows them to change the angle of attack more safely than a straight long pass.

Phase 3 – Chance Creation

The start of phase 3 sees a significant increase in tempo with aggressive, direct runs around the ball. Their attacks are primarily focused on the right side (Aubameyang or Blaszczykowski) or the centre.

With Reus on the left flank, he naturally comes inside onto his right foot. Attacks then generally are shifted to the right because the ‘3’ naturally move there. Numerical overloads can occur through the quick attacks when the ‘3’ are positioned close (more frequent right-flank). Opposition can’t make recovery runs quickly enough to support defenders (e.g. LW > LB) causing isolation.

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Short Build-Up Attacks from short build up usually start following the vertical pass to a player between the lines. If this is to Lewandowski, then he usually makes a flick-on to a near runner, whereas if any other player receives possession, they are more likely to turn and run at the defence themselves. Because of Lewandowski’s tendencies here, it would be very risky for a CB to attempt to tackle him, as a quick wall pass or flick-on would take him out of the game with space behind he’s left. If he’s being marked out of the game, Lewandowski works excellently at dragging the defender out of position for his teammates to exploit. The speed at which the other forwards react to his movement is also notable – defenders must refrain from following him too far out of position but must be able to react quickly if this situation occurs.

During these situations, where the two wide players are making runs in behind the defence, Lewandowski will play with his back to the goal, offering a wall pass. In higher areas, he will also do this when teammates are running forward from deep. Once the attacker in possession is almost inevitably challenged by the defensive line, Lewandowski will make a quick run into the space left behind. Because of this it is important for your players to delay the player in possession as much as possible, without coming out of position to do so. If

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Long Build-Up A long pass from a CB or the GK is usually directed at Lewandowski (AVG 4.5 aerial duels won per game) who can knock it down to one player making direct runs in the ‘3’. In phase 1 opposition midfielders press high which opens space between lines – then during phase 3 they can’t recover space they left behind in press creating 4v4 situation. Reus is quickest to run off of Lewandowski, whilst Aubameyang makes wider runs in half spaces and Mkhitaryan also makes forward runs from deep.

The best counter-measure to these plays is focused around a compact defensive block with minimal space between the defence and midfield. This will help create numerical superiority for the second balls whilst also preventing the ‘3’ the opportunity to make runs into space similar to the above example. In Dortmund’s home Champions’ League match against Napoli, Lewandowski won just 1 out of 7 aerial duels. This is largely due to the opposition’s mid-block organisation. Set up in a 4-4-2 formation, they played with a low amount of forward midfield pressure and a high defensive line, resulting in minimal space in between. With the pace in attack, Dortmund also threaten to create chances from deep, playing long passes over the top – Aubameyang in particular makes frequent runs behind the defence. If the defensive line keeps up with Aubameyang and he doesn’t receive the ball on goal, the other 3 attackers will move into the space created between the lines for the second ball.

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A large factor to Dortmund’s success when occupying this space after a long ball is the speed the ‘3’ read the situation and start their run.

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To counter these threats, the defenders should be cautious of Aubameyang always when in a mid block - a lot of his runs start from far away. In addition to this, the midfield need to be prepared to drop very quickly, however if the 2 holders maintain more conservative positioning, this should be easier than in the Hoffenheim example.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan Mkhitaryan has taken the CAM position for Dortmund this year, fitting well into the system. On average he makes the joint most dribbles per game (2.7) whilst creating the 3rd most chances so far (26). His pace, dribbling and incredible reading of teammates makes him excellent in the centre of the attacks. It is vital that he isn’t allowed to gain momentum on a dribble, as he becomes very dangerous in these situations. This can’t simply be done by assigning a player to mark him due to excellent off the ball movement - a better option would be to make sure he is always isolated by a dense organisation and enforce an intense press when he receives possession. 88.4% of the chances he creates are within the narrow 3rd of the pitch. With his positioning to influence every attack, and also the narrowness between the ‘3’, this is to be expected. He frequently plays chipped passes against a low block, where usually Reus is making a run in behind.

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Marco Reus The key player in the ‘3’. Reus fits excellently into Dortmund’s system, positioned at LW (but has experience at CAM this year), he drifts inside in a free attacking role. When Dortmund are playing without Mkhitaryan, it is normally Reus who has taken the central attacking position, however that is likely to change when Ilkay Gundogan returns. He is excellent at dribbling at defenders and likes to take long shots (4th most frequent shooter in the Bundesliga) whilst also Dortmund’s most frequent chance creator with 2.8 per game (also joint second-highest in Bundesliga).

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang The forward has featured predominantly on the right flank this season, generally rotating with Jakub Blaszczykowski. Aubameyang’s role in the side is much more directly attacking than his teammate, as he plays as much more of a supporting striker to Lewandowski, getting into higher positions which show in his 9 goals this season and 3rd highest shots per game in the team (2.7).

Although Aubameyang doesn’t directly contribute to the 3rd phase of possession significantly, he can play as an excellent outlet, making threatening runs behind the defensive line. This not only creates space between the lines through forcing the defence back but gives potential for 1v1 opportunities to occur if he breaks the offside trap.

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Jakub Blaszczykowski In comparison to Aubameyang, Blaszczykowski plays in much more of a winger role, where he gives width to an otherwise relatively narrow attack.

He will often underlap his teammate in full-back, running in the half spaces to try and get behind the defence unmarked.

Intelligent movement like this is one of Blaszczykowski’s greatest strengths, combined with his pace and energy it makes him a very difficult player to mark. In attacks he often provides width, in the below example he is vital just through his movement.

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Phase 4 – Finishing In terms of movement, the attack can be divided into 2 categories: space-oriented and situational. Lewandowski and Aubameyang’s movements are proactive in relation to the likes of Reus, Mkhitaryan and Blaszczykowski – for example Lewandowski will make movements out wide, in return Reus will temporarily occupy the striker position. Because of width provided from the attacking full-backs, Dortmund look to have all 4 attacking players threatening in the area during phase 4. Leading the 4, Lewandowski generally makes movement to the first post, looking to be first onto the cross. The other 3 players cover the space behind him, occupying other areas of threat such as the cut-back zone or the far post.

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Defensive Organisation Opposition in Phase 1 This is usually as a result of losing possession in play or the goalkeeper gaining possession. The instant reaction of losing possession is to make an immediate counter-press, looking to regain the ball as quickly as possible and restart the attack.

In a 4-4-2 high block, Dortmund allow the opposition space laterally and between the lines. However they react very well to passes into spaces in between the lines through an immediate press and constrict in organisation to reduce space. They don’t often press the ball carrier in situations like the one showed above, however they will do should he make a trigger. For example, if he opens his body to pass to the player on his right, then the left ST of Dortmund would press in a direction to cover the passing lane, forcing the ball carrier to re-adjust which may provoke a mistake. With the space increased between the midfield and defence lines through the pressing upfield, the opportunity to exploit through vertical play by deep players is created. Bayern Munich utilised this in their match against Dortmund where they won 3-0 on the 23rd of November.

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This aspect of their game plan not only helped Bayern create attacks, but also negated their high pressing organisation. Another way in which Bayern worked against Dortmund’s 4-4-2 press is through the use of their goalkeeper, Manuel Neuer. Firstly, with the two centre-backs against the two strikers, Neuer will offer himself as an option to create a 3v2 numerical advantage, helping a teammate find space as a ST is drawn in by the goalkeeper in order to progress possession upfield.

Three variations of using the goalkeeper to counter Dortmund's pressing

Pressing Traps Going back to Dortmund’s 4-4-2 system, a result of the lateral space that they offer is that they can form pressing traps once the opposition move the ball into these areas.

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These pressing traps are highly advantageous for Dortmund, which shows in the ball recovery statistics against Hoffenheim. As you can see, a large amount of the recoveries were made in high lateral space (highlighted) where these pressing traps will have been formed. Although they’re very good at creating these situations, I believe there are a number of methods to counter it, especially so given the numbers needed to commit in order for it to be most effective. One method of avoiding to then counter Dortmund’s pressing trap again involves the use of the goalkeeper. As Dortmund’s whole team shift over to the flank in order to close, they leave uncovered space on the other ‘half’ of the pitch. The goalkeeper can be used as a safe switching method in order to quickly direct the ball into the space and create overloads against the wide players there. Another method was used more by Bayern. Utilising the tall central players I mentioned earlier, they positioned themselves in the central space left by Dortmund’s CMs who were pushing to the flank, a direct diagonal pass to this area would create counter-attacking opportunities and create overloads.

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Instead, the opposition move backwards and then play a ‘blind’ pass down the touchline, resulting in Dortmund regaining possession and initiating a counter-attack.

Counter-Pressing Another distinctive aspect of Dortmund’s defensive organisation is their counter-pressing, something I will talk in depth about in the ‘Defensive Transition’ part of this analysis.

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Phase 2 – Opposition Preparation in Midfield With their 4-4-1-1 organisation in the opposition’s 2nd phase, the attacking midfielder covers the space between defence and midfield well, therefore it may be more beneficial to play in a rough 4-23-1 maintaining at least one player central between the midfield-defence lines at all times.

This central midfield organisation also creates a numerical advantage of 3v2 against Dortmund. This helps in progressing forward in possession as, provided that the midfielders are intelligent in positioning and movement, there will always be one available to find space and receive a pass. This is yet another example showcasing the importance of an accurate vertical passer against Dortmund.

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A 3 man central midfield is much more beneficial if Reus is playing in the centre for Dortmund, as he makes a much lesser effort defensively than Mkhitaryan, who usually works hard to stop the team getting overloaded in the centre when defending. The general objective of Dortmund in the opposition’s 2nd phase is to direct play out wide. Through initial passive work rates from the two wide players, and proactive pressure centrally from the ‘2’ (mainly Sahin), the ‘easiest’ option for the ball-carrier is to direct the ball into lateral space ‘away from danger’. However, then Dortmund apply a pressing trap with the intention of catching the wide player out and forcing a mistake.

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Phase 3 – Opposition Chance Creation When an opposition player receives possession in between the lines of midfield and defence, Dortmund have an instant reaction to become extremely narrow in the 2 banks of four whilst a centre-back will push up and stop the player from running forward. Because of the necessary spontaneity of their actions, the press is instinctively ball-oriented from everyone, meaning that off of the ball runs are vital in these situations.

In this match, Roberto Firmino had an excellent game in attacking midfield for Hoffenheim. A strong dribbler can take advantage of their press, as they can dribble out of danger and create the time to pick a pass into uncovered space, where free players should be attacking.

Dortmund’s defensive block can also be weakened through the use of half spaces. Due to their balloriented press in the opposition’s 3rd phase, a ball-carrier in a half space will open up areas on the

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near flank (for a full-back to exploit) and on the opposite half space to move the ball into and advance the attack.

Due to the attacking nature of the players in Dortmund’s ‘3-1’, the space left by the 2 holding midfielders is rarely covered. However if Mkhitaryan is centrally, he might make these plays more difficult because his brilliant work rate defensively.

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Hoffenheim’s second goal highlights the importance of a good dribbler at attacking midfield. Firmino again dribbled past two players from the halfway line up until passing to Rudy. Through beating Friedrich, he drew even more Dortmund players towards him in the half space which gave the opportunity for Rudy and Toljan on the left wing to make these runs into space. The choice between exploiting the half spaces through passes out wide or into central space is largely based on context and positioning of each team at the time. However, in a central attack from these positions the player is running directly at defence with at least 1 (2 if a CDM moves into space instead of acting as a wall pass) player(s) in support which can create numerical advantages. Also, centrally a player has a 360’ (180’ in an attacking sense) area of involvement/movement whereas out wide, this is halved due to the touchline. The only precaution when playing centrally is to not commit an large amount of players forward due to Dortmund’s very fast attacking transitional play.

Phase 4 – Opposition Finishing Dortmund have a strong defence during phase 4 when not in transition. Bender plays a primary role, sitting in front of the back 4 to protect aerially & in cutback moments. Sahin plays a more passive role, meaning that late runs from deep into the box can be effective if Bender is occupied. At crossing positions, the near FB will close the ball-carrier down whilst the near CB will take position near the front post whilst the other will sit at the edge of the six yard box. The far full-back occupies the far post and covers anything which reaches further than the CB. Sahin and Bender cover the area between the 6 yard box & the edge of the penalty area whilst also responsible for any long shot opportunities outside the area.

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Attacking Transitions From Oppositon Phase 1 – Construction from Defence A significant aspect of Dortmund’s game is in their transitions and the speed at which they react to the changes in the game. Once regaining the possession during the opposition’s 1st phase, every near player looks to find space where the opposition players have left their position to aid their advancement of possession.

From Oppositon Phase 2 – Preparation through Midfield When possession is regained from the opposition’s 2nd phase, the instant reaction is to provide width, through the 2 wingers, whilst Lewandowski and Mkhitaryan drive the attack centrally and Sahin supports from deep positions. With a wide attack they can exploit any uncovered spaces in the defence which is likely to be disorganised upon losing possession.

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From Oppositon Phase 3 – Chance Creation The attacking transition from these moments is usually initiated by a direct pass to Lewandowski. From here, the same runs are made in lateral space by wingers or full-backs whilst 2 players from deep (CAM and Sahin) support too. Lewandowski rarely makes a direct run upon receiving possession, preferring to bring a teammate running wide into play. For these reasons alone, teams may benefit from fielding a ‘6’ ahead of the defence, providing more defensive stability and stopping the direct pass to initiate the attack being as effective through cutting off the option and intercepting.

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From Oppositon Phase 4 – Finishing Again similarly this starts with a direct long pass usually to Lewandowski, whether it is as a clearance or from the goalkeeper, who then holds up the ball for the 3 other attackers to join. The band of 4 is again created plus any Dortmund players who break quickly (usually full-backs). Short build-up is rarely made as main objective when regaining possession is to clear the ball. Again a defensive midfielder would be effective in intercepting the clearances, however due to the very fast reactions to turnover of possession by Dortmund’s attackers, very few players are capable of matching their runs.

Defensive Transitions From Phase 4 – Opposition Construction from Defence The main objective upon losing possession in the 4th phase is to regain possession as soon as possible through counterpressing to restart the attack. Specifically, Dortmund employ a passoriented press, where each player presses towards the ball in a direction which will cut off a passing lane. By blocking each passing option, the ball-carrier is put under pressure and is without a safe passing option, meaning that possession is usually regained through an aimless clearance or a mistake by the ball-carrier. As I have previously stated in this analysis, a good counter to Dortmund’s heavy pressing is to use the goalkeeper as a ‘fulcrum’ to switch possession to the opposite half of the pitch where there is likely uncovered space due to the pressure towards the ball-carrier.

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From Phase 3 – Opposition Preparation in Midfield A similar pattern in transition occurs here, with the impetus on regaining possession to restart the attack through counterpressing. However an importance is put on keeping organised deeper to prevent a coutner, therefore it is needed that the ball-carrier is slowed down.

From Phase 2 – Opposition Chance Creation Because of the shape taken, the team is defensively unbalanced with 4 defending players (2 CBs and 2 CMs) whilst the full-backs are pushed up higher. Therefore, the main incentive in these situations is to regain organisation by slowing down the opposition ball-carrier, however they will look to press him if the opportunity allows.

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From Phase 1 – Opposition Finishing Dortmund are very vulnerable in these situations, due to their unbalanced numbers. The spaces between the 2 centre-backs should be the target area, because they split in possession which can be exploited if Sahin isn’t positioned between.

Defensive Set Pieces Defending Set Pieces Early in the 2013/2014 season Dortmund struggled at defending set pieces, conceding over half of the goals from set pieces at 16 matches played in all competitions.

Corners Generally, Dortmund will have a player on either post, then the rest man mark. Nuri Sahin takes position on the far whilst an attacker (usually Reus or Lewandowski) takes the front, who’s positioning isn’t as disciplined as Sahin’s and can leave the post at times. Also, Dortmund have at least 1 attacker on the edge of the box at all times for the potential attacking transition following defending the corner.

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In their second game of the campaign against Eintracht Braunschweig, the opposition scored with a setup of one group alongside a lone runner. Whilst the large group of 4 players attacked the far post, Kratz made a lone run to the front post (Reichel moved central) and managed to beat Sahin to the ball purely to the fact that Sahin was reactive to Kratz’ movements and not quick enough to catch him up.

Wide Free-Kicks A 2-man wall is formed when defending wide free-kicks, whilst a high defensive line is made. The defenders still man mark whilst Lewandowski the highest forward and other attackers ready to break.

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Central Free-Kicks In these situations, a wall of 4 on average (dependent on distance/angle) is made who jump well. They mark zonally, having an even distribution in players to increase the chances of being first to the second balls.

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Defensive Set Pieces Corners There are two main corner takers – Reus (right-footed) and Sahin (left-footed). Dortmund prefer to make in-swinging corners therefore Reus takes left-sided corners and Sahin right. The general direction of the corners is to the front post, where they have at least two people making runs, usually diagonal from across the penalty area. They then have their centre-backs attacking central space and far post behind the run of 2, looking for the second ball or if the cross is over-hit.

Wide Free-Kicks Sahin and Reus are again the usual takers; however the selection isn’t as consistent as for corners. They also vary the delivery (in-swing vs out-swing) which depends on location from the byline (close – out-swing, middle/far – in-swing) The direction of Dortmund’s movements are quite spread, whilst the cross is aimed around the six yard box (out-swing) or the penalty spot (in-swing). There is also a player (usually a CM or attacking midfielder) positioned on the edge of the box for any long shot opportunities.

Central Free-Kicks Again, Reus and Sahin take free-kicks, with Reus taking all positioned on the left or central whilst Sahin takes all from the right. Both generally look to shoot over the wall with the ball curling away from the goalkeeper. The rest of the attackers work very quickly to run towards the goal upon the kick being taken in order to get first to the second ball.

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Borussia dortmund tactical analysis  
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