Dortmund 6-1 Mönchengladbach | Gladbach play into Dortmund’s hands

Dortmund 6-1 Mönchengladbach | FI

Borussia Dortmund came into this Bundesliga clash having not conceded in any of their previous matches and drawing only one match. Borussia Mönchengladbach were worthy opponents and were making progress under Dieter Hecking. The match was a great contest on paper and Dortmund put on a show of as to what could be expected of them under Peter Bosz over this season.

Line ups:

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Borussia Dortmund: (4-3-3) | Manager: Peter Bosz

38.Burki; 26.Piszczek – 25.Sokratis – 36.Toprak – 15.Toljan; 33.Weigl – 19.Dahoud – 10.Gotze; 22.Pulisic – 17.Aubameyang – 20.Phillipp

Borussia Monchengladbach: (4-4-2) | Dieter Hecking

21.Sippel; 30.Elvedi – 4.Ginter – 28.Vestegaard – 17.Wendt; 10.Hazard – 8.Kramer – 6.Zakaria- 19.Johnson; 11.Raffael – 13.Stindl

The deficiencies in the 4-4-2 block:

Choosing to defend in a compact 4-4-2 block, Gladbach sat deep within their half with the two strikers closing the lane to Weigl. The problems in this 4-4-2 became evident in the due course of the match when the spaces that the 4-4-2 block fails to cover were exploited by Bosz’s team. Bosz’s team have made a name for themselves in recent weeks with their excellent exploitation of the wings and wide areas in general. The wide men and the ball near 8’s are usually found in the flanks, optimally spaced. The center backs split themselves very wide with the pivote (Weigl in this match) stationed further in between them.

The major problem that Gladbach faced when they defended in their scheme against this Dortmund side was that they could not defend the half spaces and the wide areas without aggressive ball oriented shifts. These shifts however meant that they could not defend the ball far flanks well and lacked access to that side. Due to the positioning of the holding midfielder and the center backs, Dortmund could initiate easy switches in play to the far side with a ball over the top.

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The passive pressing within the block allows Weigl to shift play to the far side. Ball oriented shifts have ensured that the ball far side is left free. Philipp can now exploit this.

Also, the passive nature of the 4-4-2 block is a huge mistake especially in a match like this where there is clear focus from the opposition to the flanks. Since the strikers only looked to block the lane to Weigl, the passages into the second phase of build-up from Dortmund were carried out easily on the sides. Even with the ball oriented shifts in their 4-4-2 block, Gladbach failed to have clear access within their bock. This lack of access led to Dortmund being able to play through their block with clear structures in their shape.

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No pressure on ball plus intelligent positioning within the block have led Weigl to play the pass forward into space. Zakaria being oriented to Gotze allows the passing lane to be opened.

The roaming 8’s in front of Weigl:

Both Dahoud and Gotze were instrumental in this match for Drotmund as they were found occupying the spaces in between their direct opposition. Due to the two players being positioned higher than Weigl, this led to a man marking orientation from Gladbach as Denis Zakaria was found marking Gotze while Christopher Kramer was pitted against Dahoud. However this was detrimental as the Gladbach players could not follow Dahoud or Gotze whenever they dropped deep to receive the pass from the back. This was down to the fact that they needed to hold their shape in the four man chain in midfield and it was not a man marking scheme from Gladbach.

The dropping down from Gotze and Dahoud meant that they were getting out of the midfield block and freeing themselves out of the Gladbach coverage. The passing options were maintained on the outside and the half space with the full back pushing up while the winger would move in to the half space. Again, Gladbach could not deal with this and found themselves wanting on the ball far side with no access.

Another interesting aspect in this roaming for Dortmund was that Gotze in particular found some joy when he made late runs into the final third behind the Gladbach defense. The timing of the runs and the runs made in the opposing direction by Dahoud and Aubameyang in particular meant that Gotze could find himself on the receiving end of the pass in the final third.

Dortmund’s identity is taking shape:

Bosz has clear plans in instilling his identity in Dortmund. There is clear focus in establishing triangles and rhombuses in play. The wings are occupied heavily and progressions are sought via the wings and half spaces. The midfielders roam and occupy spaces effectively to combine with their ball near winger and full back. The holding midfielder is responsible for the shift in play.

Unlike Tuchel or Guardiola who would probably encourage the holding midfielder to drop into the back line to create numerical superiority against two forwards, Bosz encourages Weigl to stay up further and be part of the second phase of build-up. The center backs are trusted with bringing the ball out of the back despite being pressed by two forwards. The passive nature of Gladbach’s pressing played right into Dortmund’s hands with the likes of Weigl and Gotze able to play incisive passes and create switches in play.

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The emphasis on combinations down the flanks by Dortmund have been amplified by Gladbach’s structure. The zones that Dortmund could easily exploit are marked in red. The blue connections show the combinations that Dortmund favoured.


Dortmund continued with their impressive start to the season and put six goals past Mönchengladbach as Pierre Emerick Aubamaeyang grabbed his first hat trick of the season while Maxmillian Philipp scored a brace himself. Julian Weigl was fantastic on his return to first team action and helped himself with a superb volleyed goal. Bosz now funds his team on top of the table and now will look to consolidate the position. The tactics were spot on from Bosz and the quality of players in the side ensured that the three points were in bad and in style.