Hannover 0-4 Borussia Dortmund

The starting positions/general positions of the players

Dortmund condemned Hannover to a fourth defeat in six games as Jurgen Klopp’s side moved four points clear at the top of the table. Die Borussen set a new record in the process by becoming the first ever top-flight side in Germany to win each of their opening six away games, and the win, with goals from four different players, also keeps Dortmund tens points ahead of the Champions League chasing-pack.

From the first peep, Hannover saw more of the ball, but only in harmless areas. Good Dortmund pressing forced hurried decisions, and prevented Hannover from doing much. Mirko Slomka had his side invite pressure near their own goal by getting Florian Fromlowitz to roll short. The idea was to entice the league-leading visitors higher up the pitch as a unit, Hannover then scooping a ball over the top for either one of their alert strikers to run with, or feeding a wideman to carry down the channel and get the Dortmund defence back-pedalling.

However, Jurgen Klopp’s side are as ruthlessly disciplined as they are fit.  Dortmund harried Hannover into submission by hunting and biting in packs of three (particularly in the centre, where one of the deeper midfielders pushed up, and Mario Götze pushed in). Then, keeping their defence deep, they recycled possession and came forward themselves. And what a sight the stream of yellow shirts piling upfield is! Dortmund counter-attack with careless abandon, and are able to do so because neither full-back has a second thought about flying forwards. With the nominal attackers all still high after pressing the first ball, bodies abound for the carriers to either feed, or use as decoys. Continue reading

Sunderland 2010/11 preview

Sunderland's line-up in the 2009 pre-season friendly with Atletico Madrid

Steve Bruce’s Sunderland begin their fourth consecutive season in the Premier League against that other noughties yo-yo club, Birmingham City.

After taking over from the beleaguered Ricky Sbragia last summer, the former Wigan Athletic manager steered a squad ravaged by injury to 13th place, and two early cup exits.

While another summer has been/is being spent shearing the squad of its Roy Keane-era high-earners, arrivals have also been forthcoming.

With four young talents set to continue their exciting developments (Jack Colback, Jordan Henderson, David Meyler and Martyn Waghorn), and Darren Bent aware now is the time for more permanent England duties, the Black Cats must target a Europa League spot.

2009/10 begin in a blaze of pre-season friendlies. Chief among them was the game against eventual Europa League victors, Atlético Madrid, which Sunderland won 2-0. Continue reading