Alex Clapham provides a detailed tactical analysis of the DFB-Pokal final which finished Bayern Munich 0-0 Borussia Dortmund.
Berlin’s Olympiastadion played as the venue for what turned out to be an incredibly intense finale to the DFB-Pokal Cup and also Pep Guardiola’s reign as Bayern Munich manager. It was an evening of goodbyes as Mats Hummels also bid farewell to the club where he shot to stardom, playing 219 times before agreeing to return to Bavaria where the 27-year old began his career.
However, it was the Catalan Coach that got the fairytale ending as 74,322 packed the capital’s stadium from west and south to see the Bundesliga champions complete the double in a captivating penalty shootout against old foes Borussia Dortmund, Brazilian Douglas Costa converting the winning kick.
BAYERN MUNICH 0-0 BORUSSIA DORTMUND
Bayern Munich (4-2-3-1): Neuer; Lahm, Kimmich, Boateng, Alaba; Vidal, Thiago; Costa, Müller, Ribery; Lewandowski
Borussia Dortmund (4-3-2-1): Bürki; Schmelzer, Sokratis, Hummels, Piszczek; Castro, Weigl, Bender; Mkhitaryan, Reus; Aubameyang
BVB Press Breaks
Dortmund played frantic football from the get-go and flooded men forward in counter attacks, converting to a 4-3-3 system when in possession and bombarding Munich players with a frightening pressing style. Aubameyang led the charge and was accompanied by both Mkhitaryan and Reus with Castro and Bender alternating into the sub-pressing mode to hinder Bayern’s efforts to play out from the back.
Bender and Schmelzer sub-press to cut out immediate options for player in possession
Julian Weigl has really come into his own this season under Tuchel; the 20-year old has started 25 games and will be sure to be a permanent fixture in his midfield role infront of the backline next season. His passing range plays as a fundamental part in Dortmund’s fast counter attacks and he also breaks up play to great effect.
The young German midfielder is extremely quick off the mark and was on point to clean up any danger, stifling any attempted counter attacks from Pep’s men.
Weigl tracks down Lewandowski in wide areas
As the BVB front three pressed and played on the toes of the Munich defence, Chilean Arturo Vidal retreated into deep roles for two primary reasons:
1, Collect the ball from pressured teammates forced into unwanted areas and offer an option to play forwards
2, Rob the attentions of the Dortmund pressers whilst Philipp Lahm crept forwards into central areas to play in between the lines with Thiago Alcantara (number 6)
For the complete 120 minutes of play, the men in red used wide areas, whether it was Franck Ribery and Douglas Costa on the flanks or full backs Lahm and Alaba adventuring down the flanks.
There was always a triangle to Munich’s shape and Vidal was trusted to be the security player in the central area to scrap for any turnovers.
As Ribery looked to drift to the right hand side to double up with Costa, Dortmund were originally perplexed.
The Frenchman’s pace allowed him to get in behind and only a last-ditch Sokratis block kept him out.
BVB invited out
As clear chances were few and far between for both sides, Guardiola instructed his men to drop into deeper areas to play a more patient, possession flavoured football inside their own half with hopes of attracting the hungry pack of wolves in yellow to commit men forwards before aggressively executing longer passes into opened up spaces and gaps in behind their defence for Polish talisman Robert Lewandowski to work with.
BVB originally fell into the trap; swarming the player in possession
Initially, this worked as Der FCB had joy; creating a 2 against 2 that ultimately went unpunished as the half drew to a close.
Over the season, both full backs David Alaba and Philipp Lahm have been seen unshackled with freedom to join attacks, overlapping from left to right.
As Thomas Tuchel wanted at least 2 men forward at all times to break, Guardiola decided that German Marco Reus was less likely to obtain defensive duties than colleague Henrikh Mkhitaryan on the opposite side – due to this, it was Bayern’s German full back that was licensed to roam as he would wait for the ball to move across the back 4 towards the left before triggering into a diagonal run to cut BVB defenders and cause havoc on the right flank, allowing Costa to drive down the wing and cross or drag play centrally.
Direct Bayern in 4-1-4-1
As the clock ticked on, conceding a goal gradually became more of risk and this led both coaches to take on more conservative methods. Munich wanted more solidarity in the middle and went to a flexible 4-1-4-1 shape when defending.
Evading pressure, longer passes were hit to both Lewandowski and a fleeing Müller; not solely in hope of them winning the first header but with aspirations of the midfield swarming the second ball and winning possession in higher areas with bodies forward to hurt the defensive Yellow wall.
Müller joins Lewandowski in attacks to challenge for aerial balls
Bayern swamp player in possession in advanced areas
Vidal joins in the counter-press with Thiago
At only 25-years of age, the midfielder has the world at his feet. His Brazilian heritage gifts him with spontaneity that sees opposing defenders often left on the seat of their shorts following footwork that belongs on a Sao Paulo backstreet. Having spent seven of his eight professional seasons working under the genius of Pep Guardiola daily, the Italian born ‘enganche’ is tactically astute and often a key tool in unlocking stubborn defences with his creative movement and instinctive knowhow.
The threat of Alcantara is now well-known across world football, especially amongst the Germans. As Dortmund’s Gonzalo Castro was given the job to track and thwart any opportunities for Thiago to get on the ball in the final third, the Spanish international was kept relatively quiet, then, with a stoppage in play, Guardiola was animatedly throwing his arms and fingers in opposite directions, gesturing a tactical plan across the pitch to his 5 foot 7 inch midfielder.
As Boateng receives the ball, Thiago runs onto Borussia’s Sokratis before beginning to check away
As the Greek central defender is dragged way out of position, a huge gap appears for Ribery
The French winger had a 1 against 1 vs Lukasz Piszczek
The winger beat his man before rifling a blistering strike which Bürki saved spectacularly
The pre-meditated move was like watching something conjured up from a Basketball handbook; Familiar scenes from Pep Guardiola.
Bayern convert into 4-2-4 vs Dortmund’s disciplined 5-4-1
Predictably so, the men in red where enjoying a lot more of the ball and as Douglas Costa was getting the better of substitute Matthias Ginter who had replaced Hummels to play in Dortmund’s left back role. Tuchels was happy for Pep’s men to have possession and subtracted into a 5-4-1 formation with the midfield four only yards infront of the back five. The champions huffed and puffed, moving the ball from left to right and switching runners alternatively, yet they couldn’t fashion a clear goalscoring opportunity against the Yellow Wall.
Not only did Borussia Dortmund show their mental strength in keeping the world class stars at bay, they flaunted exquisite physical strength and fitness and as Greek leader Sokratis nicked the ball at the edge of his own area and then rode two Bayern tackles before releasing a marauding Lukasz Piszczek down the right hand side – showing a remarkable level of stamina so late in the game – the full back’s enduring run led to a glorious opportunity when he crossed to a completely free Aubameyang who snatched at the ball and blazed over the bar from a matter of yards out, leaving the Dortmund bench on their knees with their heads in their hands.
The Gabonese striker has bagged an outstanding 25 goals this term and will be having nightmares about that miss for years to come.
However, this was Borussia Dortmund at their best; defending substantially before rapidly launching players forwards to hurt under-prepared defences with mouth-watering counter attacks.
Munich onslaught during extra-time
Extra time was upon us on a gruelling night with players down with injuries and cramp.
Again, Guardiola had to adapt, directing Ribery to vacate his flank and play centrally, his energy and pace was vital in the centre of the pitch and as he found himself in pockets of space, the Frenchman made BVB suffer.
The Frenchman claimed to have known nothing about football until the Catalan Coach arrived at the Allianz Arena. Three years on and his tactical intelligence proved to be a great thorn in BVB’s side.
Here is the winger popping up between the lines, found from a Vidal pass; the French star beat 2 defenders before teeing up Lewandowski, however the Polish striker’s shot was blocked agonisingly
Dortmund look to be back to their best as Tuchel is building a footballing machine. The departure of Hummels will be heavily felt but funds will certainly be available to replace the defender and players from around the globe will be queuing up to play in this system that epitomises the beautiful game.
Following the penalty shootout win, Philipp Lahm handed the trophy to his manager to lift; a fitting end to Guardiola’s time in Bavaria. The Champions League evaded the tactician, yet Pep became the first ever coach of a German club to win 5 of the 6 main domestic titles available to him in his first 3 years, taking his managerial record to a jaw-dropping 21 trophies in his first 7 years.
Written by Alex Clapham
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