Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund faced each other in the season’s curtain opener in the German Super Cup. The match marked Peter Bosz’s first match in charge of Dortmund as Bayern looked to continue their dominance in the Super Cups in recent years. The match was interesting in many aspects with not the least being Bayern’s new look set up and Bosz’s pressing machine in Dortmund.
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Borussia Dortmund (4-1-4-1) | Manager: Peter Bosz
38.Burki – 26.Piszczek, 25.Sokratis, 5.Bartra, 2.Zagadou – 8.Sahin – 7.Dembele, 19.Dahoud, 27.Castro, 22.Pulisic – 17.Aubameyang
Bayern Munich (4-3-3) | Manager: Carlo Ancelotti
26.Ulreich – 32.Kimmich, 8.Martinez, 5.Hummels, 13.Rafinha – 24.Tolisso, 19.Rudy, 23.Vidal – 25.Muller, 9.Lewandowski, 7.Ribery.
Dortmund’s pressing scheme:
The most striking feature from the off was the intensity with which Dortmund pressed. While it is not something that the fans in the Westfalenstadion are not entirely unaccustomed to, having seen Jurgen Klopp’s team be so successful with Gegenpressing, it has been quite a while since they have seen their team press with such intensity. The two schemes are not very similar with Peter Bosz favoring a more man oriented approach than Jurgen Klopp, witnessed from his days back in Vitesse and Ajax. His Ajax side were brilliant to watch last season and were a pressing machine with very few being familiar with how he had performed well with Vitesse before that.
The pressing from BVB saw the front three move in tandem in the opposition half to the ball near area. The use of cover shadows was not particularly exemplary in this match as the players are still getting accustomed to the new system under Bosz. The pressing from Dortmund this match was very intense especially in the first half where they effected a lot of turnovers from which they could initiate attacking moves. The structure was a hybrid between a 4-1-4-1 and a 4-3-3 and varied according to the man orientations and the ball local density of opposition players.
The intent was to cover the passing options and force a long ball or a misplaced pass. The focus was more on closing down options rather than the oppression of passing lanes. There were multiple instances where Dortmund could have won the ball further up the pitch but instead could not close down quickly due to sub optimal reactions from the players. The players are getting accustomed to the new system and this is no less than expected.
The pressing was only high and once within their own half, BVB retreated into a 4-1-4-1 that focused on maintaining the shape with intensity within the structure.
Within their half, Dortmund looked to force Bayern back with their intensity and closing down of options. The lack of occupancy in between the lines by the Bayern players also meant that they could not play through the Dortmund team via the center. The presence of Nuri Sahin as the lone six in this scenario also aided Dortmund in their search for stability.
The above image shows how Dortmund started the match off with their high intensity pressing. The two shuttling 8’s Castro and Dahoud stuck to Rudy and Vidal in a man oriented fashion while Aubameyang focused on directing play to the front, blocking the passing lane to the other center back in his cover shadow. This forces a long ball from Martinez and Dortmund can retrieve the ball back.
Dortmund intended to create chaos in the opposition half and benefit from that as they looked to play the ball long from the back and win it off the front at times. This was evidently successful as they were able to score a goal off a turnover when Pulisic capitalized on a mistake by Martinez in the 11th minute.
Bayern’s adaptation/new look?
The striking feature of the match was how Bayern featured throughout the match. The players who set out looked to be playing a 4-3-3 with Muller on the right and Ribery on the left with Lewandowski up top. In defensive phases, Bayern looked to defend in a 4-4-2 with Muller and Lewnadowski up top while Corentin Tolisso moved to the right in the midfield four.
The role of Tolisso in this set up was very unique as he was responsible for the structure on the right hand side. While he was the wide midfielder on the side while defending, he acted as the half back on the right side when Kimmich moved up front when Bayern attacked.
This shape is evident from the image above. Kimmich positions himself high on the right wing while Tolisso acts as a supplement and falls back in line. This was a prevalent feature throughout the match as Bayern played in a 3-4-2-1 shape with Muller and Ribery acting as the drifting players behind Lewandowski.
This somewhat different shape meant that Bayern could have variations in attack. Muller predominantly vacated his supposed right wing position and tried to find space in between the lines. He drifted inwards and even found himself on the left at times and looked to link play up. Rudy stayed back in the center and split play effectively while Vidal acted as the shuttling 8.
Tolisso was predominantly involved in the right half space and the wing and acted as cover for Kimmich to bomb forward. It is also interesting to note that this system adopted by Bayern was crucial in them setting up the two goals they scored. The reason behind this was that the man orientations from Dortmund were exploited and they could effectively play past their blocks.
Also, this system offered them a shift in between a 3-4-2-1 and a 4-3-2-1 in which Ribery and Muller would tuck in behind the Polish striker. The movements offered by the three midfielders were crucial in this as they perfectly complemented each other. Vidal would often move further forward in order to offer himself and retrieve the second balls off Lewandowski. These long balls were usually played out from the back in order to evade the press from Dortmund.
The defensive phase situations in the Bavarian camp were very good for the better part of the matches. This could also be down to the inefficient attacking at times from the Dortmund side. The two goals conceded by Bayern were a mistake and a counter. While the counter pressing structure for the conceding of second goal can be questioned, it is futile to expect such efficacy. The shape was predominantly a 4-4-2 in which Muller joined Lewandowski up front while Tolisso moved to the right as mentioned before. The intelligence displayed by Ribery in such situations while defending was quite good and the Frenchman did his fair share of work in these phases.
The use of the Six in build-up by Dortmund:
Another feature seen usually in Peter Bosz sides is the use of the pivot or the number six in the build-up. Nuri Sahin assumed that role in this side and was instrumental in making sure that the ball was circulated well. His positioning and off the ball movements were brilliant and was crucial in Dortmund’s build-up past the Bayern pressure.
While Bayern did not really press high, their 4-4-2 shape in defense was well equipped to stop the Dortmund team from progressing clean. In these instances, Sahin would position himself in between the two strikers and make himself available for a pass. The effect this had on the whole team was that the higher positioning of Dahoud and Castro ensured that the space in between the first and second lines of build-up was appreciable.
Sahin acted as the link between these two lines and helped take out the two Bayern strikers out of the Bayern defending with his positioning and precision in passing. Sahin also made use of quick turns and dribbles to take out the Bayern forwards and progress vertically.
The spacing of the two center backs also helped in this system as they split wide when Lewandowski and Muller would stay close to each other and block the passing option to Sahin. In such cases, Bartra and Sokratis would split really wide and invite the forward onto them before passing to the free center back and progressing the ball to Sahin.
The match ended in a 2-2 draw as Bayern were able to score an equalizer towards the end and take the match to penalties. Their experience in such situations and ability to handle such pressure situations better proved to be decisive in the end as they were able to see off Dortmund in the shootout. The main features of the match would be the pressing from Dortmund and the use of Tolisso by Ancelotti.
While it remains to be seen whether this would be a long term option for the season, it no doubt had its own advantages. Peter Bosz has just settled down at Dortmund and will definitely make sure that Dortmund play an attractive brand of football. The curtain raiser is over and Bayern have staked their claim as the favourites entering this Bundesliga season.