Welcome to the new site Echte Liebe UK! Today I’ll be discussing 3 tactical themes I observed that had an effect on the outcome of Saturday’s fixture against Bayer Leverkusen 04.
1. Dortmund are still a great counter-attacking team
Peter Stoeger has proven himself to be quite adept at choosing the right players for every game. Despite the occasional dissapointment(losses to Bayern and Schalke), he has a good fundamental understanding of how to approach and adapt to certain opposition.
In recent weeks, Leverkusen have upped the ante, displaying shades of intensity that made them such a great side under Roger Schmidt. Stoeger decided to mirror their approach and went for an attacking line-up using a 4-1-4-1 system, with a front 5 that included Jadon Sancho, Maximilien Phillip, Mario Gotze, Marco Reus and Christian Pulisic. Despite Leverkusen’s aggressive approach, they countered this by playing directly themselves, when in possession.
Dortmund’s first and last goals, came after well executed counter-presses and rapid counter-attacks, ending in slick finishes by Sancho and Reus respectively. Reus scored the second goal after combining with Gotze straight down the centre.
The below images display the sequence of events that allowed Sancho to finish off a fantastic counter-attack:
Maximilien Philip’s goal and an offside finish by Reus both came after exploiting the space in-behind Leverkusen’s high-line, with direct passes. It was great to see Dortmund take advantage of Leverkusen’s poor defensive organisation with the style and intensity they’re known for producing.
2. The next Dortmund manager should consider using a 3-man midfield permanently
Weigl, Reus and Gotze started as the midfield trio against Leverkusen, giving the home side a numerical advantage down the centre. It also forced Leverkusen’s centre-backs into midfield on particular occasions to balance out the numerical disadvantage they faced, which created space for Dortmund in-behind Leverkusen’s defensive line. Against high-pressing sides, that is the potential a 3-man midfield has.
Against teams that sit deep and congest midfield areas it will allow Dortmund to circulate the ball around the pitch, with players positioned in good areas to create goalscoring chances. The natural triangles that form between the players is a huge advantage against compact teams, however good movement and high quality players are also a crucial factor in making this sort of system work. Good movement will need to be coached better as Stoeger has done too well in this aspect, especially against very good sides. But Dortmund definitely have high quality players within their squad, which brings me to my next point.
3. Dortmund have the best young side in Europe
With a core nucles of young and gifted players, Dortmund have created the best young side in the whole of Europe. The match against Leverkusen just highlighted the strength of Dortmund’s youth policy. Maximillien Phillip, 24, got on the scoresheet, and so did Jadon Sancho,18, who also grabbed two assists and won the Man of the Match award. Christian Pulisic, 19, who has played brilliantly in the last few games also managed an assist. Manuel Akanji and Julian Weigl both 22, put in fantastic diplays against Leverkusen too. Bare in mind that Dortmund were still able to call upon Mahmoud Dahoud, 22, and Jeremy Toljan, 23, in the closing stages of the game, which just reinforced the fact that this young side has the potential to be one of the best sides in the whole of Europe within the next 12-24 months.