Borussia Dortmund 1-1 Mainz

The first half formations.

Dortmund dropped points for the second week in succession as a spirited performance from Mainz in the final-quarter of the game and a last-gasp equalizer proved enough to hold the runaway league leaders to a draw.

Both sides came into this game on the back of disappointing 1-0 defeats – Dortmund to Hoffenheim, and Mainz to Leverkusen. They were the success stories of the first half of the campaign, but whereas Dortmund have stayed in good form after the winter break, Mainz have been up and down. There were a number of notable injured absentees – Shinji Kagawa and Patrick Owomoyela for the hosts, and Jan Šimák, Zsolt Lőw, Ádám Szalai and Marco Caligiuri for the guests. Continue reading

Hoffenheim 1-0 Borussia Dortmund

The formations with half-hour played.

Hard-working Hoffenheim punished a surprisingly unimaginative Dortmund side to deny the league leaders what would have been a record-setting 12th away win of the season.

These two teams came into this game on largely differing runs of form. In-form Dortmund, top of the table by 12 points, having racked up 11 away wins in the league so far this season. Hoffenheim, on the other hand, had fallen from credible Champions League contenders to the mid-table positions they’ve made their home these last few seasons. They sat in ninth place haven taken just seven points from the last 18 available. Both sides had only failed to score on three occasions this season, so goals seemed certain. Definitely absent from the scoresheet by virtue of being absent from the teamsheet for Marco Pezzaiuoli’s hosts were Andreas Ibertsberger, Tobias Weis, Chinedu Obasi and Peniel Mlapa. For the visitors, Mats Hummels, Shinji Kagawa, Patrick Owomoyela, and Damien Le Tallec were all out. Continue reading

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

Cologne 1-2 Dortmund

Lukas Podolski's pre-match rant made for a raucous atmosphere.

A scrappy injury time winner from Nuri Şahin saw Dortmund temporarily go top of the Bundesliga table!

The visitors were good value for the three points after making the most chances in a fast-paced and occasionally fiery Friday night thriller.

An hour’s drive separates Dortmund from Cologne, and as a number of Dortmund players were on international duty this week, a short journey to face the team in 16th was definitely what the doctor ordered.

Save for handing Croatian rookie Miro Varvodić his Bundesliga bow, Cologne’s line-up was identical to the one that held Hoffenheim before the international break.

The first half began at a brutal pace, setting the tone for the rest of the game. No one was given the luxury of time on the ball, and it was all a bit slapdash.

This cut-thrust nature didn’t stop either side from having plenty of chances though: Podolski and Lucas Barrios having the best of the bunch, both rattling the woodwork.  Continue reading

Late August looks at Bundesliga and Serie A

Kaiserslautern 2-0 Bayern Munich, 27/08/2010

As per usual action in Germany’s top-flight commenced on the Friday, and for the second week in succession Bayern Munich got things under way. Unfortunately for Louis van Gaal, they didn’t quite gets things all their own way.

Much to the delight of a rapturous home-crowd in Kaiserslautern, the 2009/10 2. Bundesliga champions defeated the illustrious treble-winners by a comfortable two-goal margin.

There was nothing particularly brilliant or revolutionary about how Marco Kurz and his team achieved the feat – the three points were a testimony to hard-work and lethargic Bavarian visitors.

Bayern dominated possession, but met a side willing to sit back and press with gusto in their own-half. Therefore, Kaiserslautern old-boy Miroslav Klose & co. found openings difficult to come by.

Adam Nemec was cleverly stationed in Bastian Schweinsteiger’s shadow, stifling the quarterback’s space. Mark van Bommel sought territory further upfield, though this rendered Bayern susceptible to the counter-attack. 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.

Continue reading