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

Tactical titbits

Borussia Dortmund 2-0 Wolfsburg, 11/09/10. Starting XIs.

Another pulsating weekend of football action in EU member states has been and gone, and all we can do is reflect and hope next Saturday and Sunday are just as action-packed.

I began my weekend with two successive 2-0 triumphs – Hoffenheim’s conquest of Schalke on Friday evening, followed by Zenit’s cruise to victory over the downwardly-hurtling Tom Tomsk.

Subsequent to that interjection of Russian action, I found myself back in the realms of the Bundesliga as Jurgen Klopp’s Borussia Dortmund sought to inflict a third successive defeat on Wolfsburg.

After an embarrassingly lacklustre first-half against Bayern Munich on the season’s opening day (during which Wolfsburg were allergic to the ball or their opponent’s half), positive tactics in the second half at last gave Wolfsburg some identity. Continue reading

Tactically naive Borussia Dortmund?

Dortmund beat Man City 3-1 in a recent friendly - a great trial for the swashbuckling 4-2-3-1.

Jurgen Klopp’s side officially began their season on Thursday evening in the Europa League. They met Azeri side Qarabağ, triumphing comfortably in the home leg. A 5th-placed finish in the Bundesliga earned Dortmund the right to compete in continental competition, and they begin the latest edition of German top-flight football on Sunday against Leverkusen.

The Signal Iduna Park outfit have a testing set of fixtures to commence the season with -after Leverkusen, it’s Stuttgart, before Wolfsburg and Schalke respectively. Dortmund were neither consistently great or woeful last season. Yet in light of their testing entry to the new campaign, it’s worth noting that a poor start in 2009/10 ultimately cost them a Champions League berth.

Such a shoddy start wasn’t the sole deciding factor, however, as coach Jurgen Klopp’s tactics must take a hefty chunk of the blame. The negative, cynical tactics his side were exponents of were overly-relied on, and amendments aimed at constructing a formation capable of taking the game to the opposition proved disastrous.

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Schalke and Magath back for more

How Bayern Munich and Schalke lined-up in the former's 2-0 Super Cup victory recently. Schalke's reticence and aversion to the ball was as rigidly operated as you'd expect from a Magath team. Schalke's walls narrowed the angles, the forwards and Joel Matip penned Bastian Schweinsteiger in a triangular prison.

Schalke’s tactics of score few, concede fewer have led to third and second place domestic finishes in two of the last three seasons, with current coach Felix Magath achieving the latter.

The ruthless disciplinarian is impossible to second-guess, as he’ll relentlessly tinkers tactics and personnel between or during matches, and last season, even removed poor Christoph Moritz 22 minutes after bringing him on in the derby!

Money issues dog the club, affecting transfer policy, budgets, wage payments and the general aura. The club’s Champions League participation this season will bolster the kitty, especially if Schalke progress beyond the group stage.

Balancing Bundesliga and European battles will be tough for the Gelsenkirchen side, regardless of their hefty, youthful squad which has been endowed by the quite astounding acquisition of Raúl.

Save for the ageing Real Madrid legend, strikers are only conspicuous by their absence at the club right now. With Kevin Kurányi lured to Russia, Edu Gonçalves is as senior as the back-up comes. Nevertheless, expect that situation to be remedied imminently. Continue reading

Eyes on Eintracht Frankfurt

Frankfurt's players bask in the glory of conquering Chelsea.

Yesterday afternoon, Eintracht Frankfurt beat Chelsea 2-1 in a friendly. I was alerted to the scoreline by the reliably orotund Sky Sports News, the network expressing mild consternation at the result.

Bundesliga followers will have been less shocked by the result, however, as Michael Skibbe’s well-drilled side were one of the league’s better teams last season.

Die Adler commence the 2010/11 season amidst minimal emendation to the squad. The XI facing Chelsea contained eight 2009/10 regulars, more than matching a side containing a similar number of starters.

Two of Frankfurt’s newbies featured in the friendly, one of whom was left back Georgios Tzavellas, who the Germans beat off stiff competition to capture – unsurprising given that the Greek international looks to be an exciting prospect. Continue reading