Borussia Dortmund vs Atletico Madrid UEFA Champions League Tactical Analysis

Guten Tag! Today I’ll be discussing 3 tactical themes that had an effect on the outcome of Sunday’s fixture against Werder Bremen.

Dortmund’s 1st Half Build-Up Play Was Too Predictable

Dortmund retained the 4-1-4-1 shape that they used in the 4-0 thrashing of Bayern Leverkusen. Last week’s 3-man midfield gave us numerical superiority in midfield (useful for the build-up play)and defensive protection against counter-attacks. So it was a bit of a downer to see Dortmund play predictable lateral passes time and again throughout the 1st half, whilst using the same system.

Florian Kohfeldt’s Werder Bremen utilised a 4-3-3 shape in which the front 3 were tasked with defending close to each other, closing down spaces inside the midfield and squeezing Dortmund when they played passes into wide areas. Against Dortmund’s 4-1-4-1, this worked quite well, preventing them from penetrating through their midfield.

Just before Reus’ opener however, Weigl dropped into the back line which forced Werder into deeper areas and eventually allowed them to play the ball into midfield, leading up to the goal.

The build-up to this goal was excellent, however they failed to replicate such clever movement for the majority of the game. Werder were also the better attacking side throughout the 1st half as they created more chances and scored their equaliser because of their numerical advantage in midfield.

Dortmund Have Finally Found A Replacement For Mats Hummels

Aggressive in defensive duels, physically imposing and confident on the ball. Manuel Akanji’s performance on Sunday was reminiscent of Mats Hummel’s glory days when he was still a Dortund player. What was even sweeter about Akanji’s performance was the fact that he was played out of position and had to play on his weaker foot all game. Deployed at left-back, you’d think that he would’ve played conservatively throughout the game. But no, he was seen in areas high up the pitch, when Dortmund were in possession, and he almot scored a fantastic goal after a brilliant dribble inside the final 3rd. He’s only 22, and with the performance he put in on Sunday, there seems to be no limit on what he is capable of. Physically, technically and tactically, he’s one of the most promising players in the world right now.

Controlled Possession, Out Of Control Finishing

It wasn’t the most exciting performance by Peter Stoeger’s men but their controlled possession in which they kept the ball for long periods of the game, created a tired Werder Bremen side. With 30 minutes to go, the home side began giving up little pockets of space all over the pitch which resulted in 11 shots in the last half an hour. Unfortunately, the incisive combinations by Dortmund’s in-form attackers led to nothing but missed opportunities. The final score ended 1-all, giving Dortmund their 10th draw in the Bundesliga this season.

With Hoffenheim trailing us in 4th spot, Dortmund will need to be a their absolute best against this weekend’s game against Mainz. Naglesmann’s boys are away to Stuttgart, before the two clubs will collide on the final day of the season. Only 2 wins can guarantee Dortmund a 3rd place finish so, it’s going to be an interesting finale to what has been a rollercoaster 2017/18.