Borussia Dortmund 2-0 Bayern Munich | After the frenzy that was the World Cup, the club season is finally back, with Dortmund and Bayern kicking off proceedings in Germany with a cracking game in the Super Cup. Constantin Eckner has done a Tactical Analysis of the game.
Both teams missed plenty of key players, but Borussia Dortmund looked in better shape and made a bold statement with a 2-0 victory over Bayern Munich at the German Super Cup. The traditional Super Cup match-up, league champions against cup winners, was impossible. As runners-up in both competitions, Dortmund were drafted in to face Bayern. Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored the goals for Dortmund. Dortmund dominated the game from the 15th minute to finish, like a year ago when they triumphed 4-2.
Borussia Dortmund: Langerak – Piszczek, Sokratis, Ginter, Schmelzer (Durm 45′) – Kehl, Kirch (Bender 85′), Mkhitaryan – Hofmann – Aubameyang (Ramos 63′), Immobile
Bayern Munich: Neuer – Martínez (Dante 31′), Boateng, Alaba – Rode, Gaudino, Höjbjerg (Götze 59′), Bernat – Shaqiri, Müller (Lahm 45′) – Lewandowski
Goals: Mkhitaryan 23′, Aubameyang 61′
Dortmund mostly played in a 4-3-1-2 or 4-1-3-2, with a fluid midfield diamond. While Jonas Hofmann played as a no. 10, Mkhitaryan and Oli Kirch pushed forward and dropped deeper into the half-spaces, creating a line of three either with holding midfielder Sebastian Kehl or the no. 10. Meanwhile, Hofmann showed some fine link-up play in the central areas.
As in the pre-season friendlies, Klopp fielded two strikers up front. Last season Aubameyang spent most of the time on the right flank (or sitting on the bench). With his incredible acceleration, however, he is capable of utilizing space. Aubameyang can provide diagonal runs or can sprint behind the back line. The Gabon international can be a weapon as BVB are basically thumping it up the park and he is outrunning all before him.
Bayern struggled with Aubameyang’s pace, but that was one problem of many. For most of the pre-season, Guardiola employed the 3-4-2-1 with Javi Martínez as the middle centre-back. At the Signal Iduna Park, Bayern’s head coach fielded Jérôme Boateng and David Alaba on the sides of the back three. Besides Boateng, Guardiola called on only two more of his World Cup winners – Manuel Neuer and Thomas Müller. The 23-year old Sebastian Rode and the 17-year old Gianluca Gaudino played in centre midfield, while Xherdan Shaqiri slotted into the hole behind lone striker Robert Lewandowski or the Swiss International drifted into the wide area and isolated himself. Müller shuttled through the midfield space, mainly behind Lewandowski and in front of the holding midfielders.
Bayern’s back three
Bayern’s back three looked reluctant to push up, while a big hole arose, when Rode and Gaudino drifted forward. It opened up too much space for their liking. Moreover, having wing-backs with the intention to be involved in the attack is a risk. Both Juan Bernat and Pierre-Emile Höjbjerg had positions quite high up the pitch and it was possible for Dortmund to find space behind the wing-backs and wide of the center-backs. Either there was a gap between the three defenders or down the sides in Bayern’s own third.
Despite Guardiola calling on the likes of Shaqiri and the talented Gaudino, the initial build-up play was unimaginative. With a five-man or even six-man middle row, the shifted balls could have been played quickly and securely. Rode often was positioned very deep, while Guadino gave vertical thrust. However, they did not find a way to circulate the ball quickly. Shaqiri or Gaudino acted quickly in the first 15 minutes and they sometimes sidestepped Dortmund’s defenders in the final third. But when BVB found the right pressing rhythm, Bayern was unable to push forward.
In the German Cup final at the end of last season, the back three of Bayern were able to outnumber Dortmund in the initial build-up. But Klopp found an answer: more risk and more reward as he opted for a higher midfield. From time to time, Dortmund pressed with four players against a back three in the Super Cup final. Normally, Hofmann moved between Immobile and Aubameyang and they pressed as a line of three in a 4-3-3.
Bayern’s reluctance to play long balls suited Klopp’s plan. Dortmund knew that they wouldn’t play balls over the back line, and hence BVB pushed forward. Even if Bayern were able to find space between Dortmund’s lines the Schwarzgelben dealt with it the old fashioned way. They simply punted the ball at clearances. Furthermore, Sokratis played like he was Lewandowski’s shadow. The Greek man-marked his former team-mate closely and out-muscled Lewandowski most of the time.
Lack of ruthlessness
Mkhitaryan opened the scoring for Dortmund with a powerful strike. He ran around Gaudino in the centre with plenty of space forward, setting up a pass to Aubameyang. A block from Alaba prevented the Gabon forward from getting in a shot, but the ball fell kindly for Mkhitaryan, who made no mistake.
Dortmund were largely in control in the second half. After one hour, Aubameyang doubled the lead. He exchanged passes with Łukasz Piszczek before moving into the centre to meet the Pole’s cross ahead of Boateng and headed past Neuer.
The best goalkeeper at the World Cup was certainly kept busy on the night. According to WhoScored, Dortmund had 22 total shots and nine shots on target. The point of criticism is that Dortmund tested Neuer many times, but scored only twice. Ciro Immobile – on his competitive debut for Dortmund – was nervous on the ball and had three or four attempts from wide range, while he missed chances to pass to unmarked team-mates.
Where does this leave them?
Dortmund were relatively untroubled as they claimed the first silverware of the German season, but the importance of the match should not be over stated. Klopp’s side showed their desire to press high up the pitch with plenty of aggression, limiting the time afforded to the opposition players on the ball. They are capable of destroying the opponent’s build-up structure and moving quickly forward in transition play. That is simply the Dortmund way.
“We were missing a lot of players and we’re still finding our feet in pre-season. It was difficult today,” stated Bayern captain Philipp Lahm who entered the match at half-time. (http://www.bundesliga.com/en/tournaments/news/2014/0000299312.php) Bayern suffered a further blow on the half-hour mark when Martinez injured his left knee attempting an acrobatic volley and had to be withdrawn. The Spaniard has torn his ACL and looks set to miss the remainder of the calendar year. The loss of Martinez might change the 3-4-2-1 idea or they find themselves constrained to sign a new centre-back.
Written by Constantin Eckner. Follow him on Twitter @cc_eckner