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Hrishi Anand writes a detailed tactical analysis of the Bundesliga match that ended Freiburg 0-3 Dortmund.
Borussia Dortmund banished their terrible form away from home to comfortably beat Freiburg 3-0. It was an important result that kept Dortmund within touching distance of RB Leipzig in 2nd place. Goals from Aubameyang following an early Sokratis goal from a set-piece set Dortmund on the way to claiming a vital 3 points at the Schwarzwald-Stadion.
Freiburg: 1. Schwolow; 17. Kubler, 3. Torrejon, 4. Soyuncu, 30. Gunter; 11. Bulut, 8. Frantz, 27. Hofler, 32. Grifo; 18. Petersen, 26. Philipp.
Dortmund: 38. Burki; 26. Pisczcek, 25. Sokratis, 5. Bartra; 33. Weigl, 37. Durm, 7. O. Dembele, 27. Castro, 13. Guerreiro; 11 Reus, 17. Aubameyang.
Borussia Dortmund under Jurgen Klopp were synonymous with the ‘Gegenpress.’ Thomas Tuchel hasn’t implemented the pressing game to such an extent since he took over at Dortmund. Dortmund’s relentless pressing stood out in their victory over Freiburg as they maintained great intensity and uniformity in their pressing over 90 minutes. The high press forced Freiburg into mistakes high up the pitch, frequently forcing the hosts to surrender possession in dangerous positions and misplace passes as they weren’t afforded the time to pick out a teammate. Most important was the uniformity and communication the visitors maintained in the press. Julian Weigl was often seen coordinating the pressing game and this allowed Dortmund to effectively cut out any sort of Freiburg pressure.
Ousmane Dembele may have a huge amount of hype around him but the French winger hasn’t looked fazed one bit since swapping Rennes for the yellow of Dortmund. 6 goals and 14 assists in 32 games are great numbers for a debut season, let alone for a 19 year old. Against Freiburg, Dembele made the pitch his own and dominated proceedings, registering a pre assist. The freedom offered to him in the Tuchel set up is really bringing out the full potential in Dembele. Starting on the right wing, Dembele was frequently in the No10 position as Durm covered for him on the wing. This gave him the opportunity to link up with Weigl and receive the ball in a positions where he had runners to both sides and ahead of him.
A 3 man defense is apparently the popular trend with managers. Antonio Conte’s success at Chelsea has led to a variety of managers experimenting with 3 at the back and Thomas Tuchel appears to be the latest to make the switch from the conventional 4 man defense. The system actually works quite well at Dortmund. A particular aspect to be noticed is that rather than being a traditional 3-at-the-back, Tuchel plays a rather pseudo-defensive system. To explain, while Dortmund may in their team line-up and initial position showcase a trio in defense, they are actually very frequently a 4-man or even 5-man defense. Key to this are the quick wingbacks that Dortmund have in their ranks. Raphael Guerreiro and Erik Durm are traditionally wing-backs but are flourishing in their advanced roles. At the same time, their defensive mindset means that they are aware of their roles in marking the wide-men of the opposition and this in turn provides Dortmund with additional safety against long balls or wingers as focal points. When in possession, both Guerreiro and Durm are free to take up advanced positions and make overlapping runs but when Dortmund are chasing the ball, both of them move to the conventional wing back role and form a 5-man defense on either side of the 3 center halves.
Julian Weigl’s passing has become a mainstream subject to feature considering he hits an average passing accuracy of 90 percent. The young German is probably the first name on the starting line-up considering how important he is to Borussia Dortmund’s entire attacking framework. In just over a year, Weigl is a fixture in central midfield and has been paired with a variety of players but has never been benched. Freiburg was another game where he was pretty much spotless through the duration of 90 minutes. He was also important in organizing Dortmund’s press and very vocal in his approach to communication. Possible captain in the future?
Star striker Pierre Emerick Aubameyang has looked off the pace in his last few games. The Champions League tie against SL Benfica being a particular night to forget. The Gabonese striker ended a run of 700 minutes without a goal against Freiburg as he bagged a brace. Marco Reus, who has had a quite season by his standards, set up Aubameyang with a terrific bit of skill, nutmegging a defender before squaring the ball to Aubameyang to finish. The second goal was also a simple one for Auba as he fired in from close range following a pass from Erik Durm. Aubameyang did initially look rusty, spurning a couple of clear cut chances but the two goals will be of much relief and hopefully act as a catalyst to regaining form in front of goal.
Along with the comfortable win, Dortmund also kept a clean sheet away from home, something which has been rare this term. Marc Bartra has taken time to settle but is slowly finding his feet alongside the ever-present and ever-consistent Sokratis, who also bagged a goal. Bartra also has the ability to play out from the back if the need arises, being bred in La Masia. The introduction of the new defensive system as well as the cohesive pressing shielded the defense from any sort of Freiburg attack which were far from plenty.
Borussia Dortmund overcame Freiburg 3-0 away from home. While it is a fixture you’d expect them to win, the manner of the win was encouraging to see. Dortmund’s form away from home has been dismal this season but Thomas Tuchel took the risk of changing his system defensively which paid off. Added to this, the regained form that his players are showing, especially the ones in defense, are good signs welcoming a busy period for ‘Die Schwarzgelben.’ Defensively, the new system offers Tuchel a solid base to build on. Dortmund have looked imbalanced in terms of attack compared to defense this season but the system of 3 defenders has steadied the ship. Thomas Tuchel deserves the credit for thinking out-of-the-box.
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