Dortmund’s Dilemma: How Jürgen Klopp’s insistence on playing the Dortmund way may hinder their progression.

Without taking away completely from Hertha Berlin’s brilliant defensive performance this past Saturday, Dortmund did make it extremely difficult for themselves as Jürgen Klopp’s men lost their second match of the season and first match at The Signal-Iduna Park since last season’s opening defeat to Leverkusen. The Press and fans alike are already starting to push the panic button as Dortmund has gotten a mere seven points from the first five matches and currently sit in the second half of the table. For a side that won the league so convincingly last season surely they would be expected to compete with similar fervor again or at least get better results and play the same fluid attacking football that won over so many purists across Germany and Europe.  So what exactly is happening at Dortmund? Is it too premature to even debate this as a serious matter? After all they started in the most promising fashion possible with an emphatic victory against Hamburg.

In pre-season they did not seem affected by the departure of influential midfielder Nuri Sahin, nor of Lucas Barrios’ absence due to a long-term injury. Manager Klopp publically declared they will continue to play the style he developed last season and encourage his men to play with the same attitude that saw them display the most exciting brand of football in the Bundesliga. So why have we not really seen this so far? Although they are missing players like Barrios and in the match against Hertha, the very important Mario Götze, the two biggest factors that may guide us in the path to the right answer are the absence of Nuri Sahin and Klopp’s failure to address Dortmund’s lack of tactical contingencies.

Sahin: THE Key Man

Arguably the biggest talking point going into the season was Sahin’s departure, whether or not Dortmund would be the same without him and how Klopp would replace such an influential player. Many argued that he was just one of Dortmund’s important cogs and would not be missed in the long-term but the truth remains the team’s tactical identity was very much defined by Sahin’s presence in the heart of the midfield.

In simplest form, Dortmund played a pressing and frenetic brand of counter-attacking football built from the back. Defenders Mats Hummels and Neven Subotic thrived on playing a high line that allows them to quickly release the ball to the overlapping fullbacks or into midfield. Dortmund’s breaks happened within seconds and were near impossible to stop, such was the pace of their counters. It worked because the individual quality of each player came through the entire season. There was a deep understanding of what Klopp demanded and an extreme efficiency and selflessness in its execution from every single player. It wasn’t a system that relied particularly on one single player to have an outstanding match. It is also the primary reason why it is so deceiving to think Sahin’s departure was not as crucial as some seemed to have pointed out and it remains the popular opinion, even among big portion of Dortmund’s fanbase.

This however belies the important fact that at the most fundamental level of any functioning system lie key players that serve as the base or reference point for that system and it is those players that makes it function at its purest. In this case, it was Nuri Sahin. He brought an element of experience, despite his age, he acted as the spiritual leader of the club and the tactical anchor all in one.

The high defensive line functioned particularly well because the midfielders ahead of Subotic and Hummels were able to offer the space and coverage needed. When the two pushed up to release the ball, Sahin or Bender dropped and created a triangular shape.  More often both would drop and create a flexible rectangular shape that allowed a safety net of retention so even when pressed there was always an extra man to take pressure off the defenders. The main man here was Sahin because he was predominantly good at playing a retentive brand of football. He functioned mainly as a deep lying playmaker, someone who would collect the ball and be responsible for getting it out to Dortmund’s primary playmakers as well as occasionally making runs forward to shoot. And here lies the most important part of Sahin’s game – the ability to maintain possession in the most crucial stages of the match and thus controlling not only the tempo of Dortmund’s attack but the tempo of the match in its entirety (something Dortmund have struggled with quite a bit this season)

Dortmund’s defensive shape 2010/2011
Retentive strategy allows for fluid and cohesive build ups from back.

 

 

 

 

 

 

This role is extremely difficult to play precisely because it demands a lot of one player. Not many are given the responsibility to perform this secondary role. Players like Xavi and Paul Scholes are the closest examples in recent times. They are primarily creative players who sit deep and function as the metronomes of their respective sides. Gone are the days of pure harassers and defensive midfielders who are mainly responsible for cutting our counters and chasing players. Modern football emphasizes possession football more thoroughly as its primary mode of defense. Scholes and Xavi collectively edit the game, seeking out the best position to sit when the others receive the ball to take pressure off their teammates. When they receive the ball they look to the safest zone to progress the ball retaining possession without losing momentum. It is a defensive component in its most explicit form but implicitly it is the most attack-minded element of playing the modern game because it allows and encourages a precise and thought-out fluidity. The retainer’s passing and creative abilities are inherent – there is no need to lay it off to a teammate as counters/build ups can happen right away.  In this sense Sahin performed dual roles and was THE key player in linking up defense and attack. Without him, Dortmund can function against most sides as they did toward the latter stages of last season and in the matches they have won so far this season but there is a distinct lack of cohesion to the side as a result when the retainer is removed from Klopp’s system.

Moreover the build ups from midfield are exceptionally slower than they were last season directly because of this missing component. There is less focus and a sense of panic to whenever the team approaches the final third. This season there has been a greater emphasis to play in tight spaces but it lacks distinct purpose. Of course this has a lot to do with the fact that they are missing Barrios and Götze but it is telling also because it can be viewed as a direct result of poor build up due to the lack of cohesion in midfield.

Klopp: Failure to build on last season leaves Dortmund exposed

It was always going to be interesting to see how Klopp would build on last season’s success. Many questions were raised over the role Gündogan would play – would he replace Sahin directly or would Klopp re-adjust the system? Moreover, the weaknesses apparent last season – would they be addressed and exactly what would Klopp’s vision be with Dortmund in the European picture. The answer is really neither of these and in this tactical obfuscation lies the ultimate problem for Klopp and his men as we have been witness to so far.

For one, a major weakness last season was also one of their big strengths. As alluded to above, their frenetic counter-attacking style left many Bundesliga sides and fans alike with their collective jaws on the floor. They caught the entire league by surprise and it would be the major tactical identity along with an eager sense of pressing early on in games. When teams usually dedicate so much of their gameplan to a heavy collective attacking strategy, it is prone to creating many gaps. Great attacking sides are built on great defenses, and in Subotic and Hummels, Dortmund arguably have the best in the league and among the best in Europe. Klopp was obviously aware when bestowing Sahin with retentive responsibilities. In many ways it negated various attempts by other sides to take advantage of Dortmund’s high pressing and counter-style.

This season however they are without Sahin and without a true retainer. Gündogan appears to be mainly a box-to-box midfielder, physically astute and technically gifted but ultimately always looking to get forward as he did so well with Nürnberg last year. Klopp has asked him to play a deeper role but it is apparent that he does not play a similar game to Sahin at all. He works very hard and covers a lot of ground but his heatmaps indicate his primary zone of operation is always closer to the opposition’s goal whereas Sahin was content to sit back and absorb pressure deeper.

Heatmaps from the Hertha match indicate just how high up the field Gündogan spent. The lack of midfield coverage and already high defensive line makes it easy for Hertha to find gaps and counter

 

Large gap left in central midfield which is easily exploitted as Raffael makes his run to the eventual goal.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This has had its obvious fallout. The build ups are slower because Dortmund have a harder time collecting the ball in midfield. It is no surprise that Dortmund’s two losses to Hoffenheim and Hertha came when their midfield was at its absolute worst. Hertha coach Babel said in a post-match comment: “It was clear that the game would be won in the center, both CB’s and holding midfielders played great.” Babel and Stanislawski instructed their midfield to exert extra amount of pressure on Dortmund in the center of the pitch because once you negate that, it is invariably easier to expose every other facet of the side. Against Arsenal, the key battle also took place in midfield. Dortmund had far more advantages but looked completely disjointed in the center of the pitch – it is no surprise Arsenal’s best chances came directly through the middle, including the goal which was due to an individual mistake from Kehl but moreso because he was asked to play a role that he simply couldn’t have executed properly.

Tactical Obfuscation

Another major talking point is Dortmund’s lack of tactical flexibility. In their opener against Hamburg, Dortmund absolutely ate Hamburg up in the opening hour but after three goals eventually became complacent. They passed the ball around lazier and generally looked more tired. However they still insisted on playing their overall gameplan: release early and counter directly. It did not work and Hamburg managed to get back into the match. Luckily the game ended soon after but it signaled a worrying component.

It is unlikely that a fatigued team will be able to display the same eagerness and cohesion in the latter stages of the game. Also, a team that relies so heavily on its primary gameplan needs an alternative when it has to close out matches and even chase them. Dortmund have had issues with the former last season and even moreso with the latter this season. Having to chase Hoffenheim, Dortmund threw everything forward but Hoffenheim remained sturdy and threw it back at them. Similarly, a very well organized Leverkusen and Hertha did the same, defending valiantly. Dortmund tried to play in tight spaces – oftentimes too tight and simply didn’t look to break through. It seems Klopp is hesitant to sacrifice the team’s primary gameplan, perhaps because it would alter or affect their effectiveness in the opening stages of a game. Still, in trying to repeat last season and competing on more fronts, particularly Europe, it seems absurd not to make any progressive tactical adjustments, let alone force the team to play the same when the key component and anchor is clearly missing.

In Europe last season, along with inexperience this was a major factor that led them to exit the group stages of the Europea League. This season it can have similar effects.

The best method presumably would have been to build on the retentive aspects of last year’s game and instructing the team to deal better with sides that are prepared against Dortmund. It is safe to say, some teams have caught up in the league and will not be so afraid of Dortmund as they were last year. A good manager must always be aware of this and act before their opponents can eventually outfox them as Stanislawski and Babbel have done so far. A great manager must not be afraid to sacrifice any bit of an already successful gameplan if he truly believes his players will be capable of pulling off something different and ultimately if it means the continuing success on a higher stage. The best teams have succeeded in recent times by being able to adapt constantly, whether it is bringing in new players or altering existing setups. Far from an anomaly though, I claim that this speaks more on a general trend in the Bundesliga.

Tactical Adaptability: The German Stalemate and Conclusion

There seems to be a general aversion to tactical innovations within the league itself. In a European context, you won’t find the Bundesliga to play systems that eventually become mainstays in European football. For instance, as the quality in Seria A has dropped and the continuing competition between it and the Bundesliga in terms of coefficients continue, The Italian league still finds itself to be the breeding ground of a lot of recent tactical developments and trends with teams such as Napoli, Palermo, Roma, Genoa, Udinese, and now Inter examples of teams daring to switch and evolve their usual tactical patterns. This isn’t the case with the Bundesliga as it has almost repetitively been behind the top tier leagues in this context. Until recently, many sides were still playing 4-4-2 formations and it was only in the past two seasons when that change became notable across the entire league.

Many Bundesliga managers want to build one strong system and put the pieces in place to last long-term. Schaaf at Bremen is perhaps the best possible example of this phenomenon. Since he took charge of Bremen they have been associated with free-flowing football, pleasing to the eye and never deviating from its attacking roots. However this proved to be their eventual downfall on numerous occasions, particularly in Europe when they were exploited constantly in defense. Schaaf’s failure to consistently adapt to the modern game has eventually had regressive consequences. Rangnick’s teams over the years, particularly Hoffenheim and Schalke now, are based on his Wenger-esque attacking philosophy but seemingly devoid of any defensive comprehension. So much of Hoffenheim was based on its attack that in its second and third season in the top flight they completely capitulated when the league caught up with them, failing to readjust completely. Last season’s Schalke under Ragnick was completely converted from the fitness-centric Magath-ian view to his attacking strategy, so much so that they ended up with a -6 goal difference in the league and conceding 9 goals in 4 matches in Europe compared to Magath’s 7 goals in 8 matches. Surprisingly even van Gaal’s retentive approach became Bayern’s primary gameplan before being seen too much of a departure from what the upper management wanted to see.

The pressure is now on Klopp to break out of this mold. This is arguably the most exciting German club to come along in a decade and many eyes will be on Dortmund this season in Europe but added pressure will also be on them to challenge heavily for the title or at least retain a Champions League spot. Many hopes are also placed on them particularly because they represent the next wave of German football ideology – a refreshingly attacking brand of football executed by young and exciting talent. If the debate regarding Klopp’s naivety in his fourth season at the club is indeed too premature and if this really is only temporary as the team will slowly but surely adjust, then the entire world’s eyes will be watching to see his next move.

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Daniel is a New York-based Illustrator and Graphic Designer. In his spare time he is a passionate football fan with a particular love for everything German football. Daniel can be found on twitter @danielnyari

18 Comments

  1. Uli’s chequebook may not stretch to buying Hazard. I agree he was a viable option a season or too ago but unless FFP constrains the petro-dollar-backed nouveau riche Hazard might be out of Bayern’s reach now. De Bruyne could be a possible, if they want to go Belgian, or Mertens.

    Otherwise, if they want a German speaker one of Shaqiri/Reus/Marin for next season. I don’t see any problems if they keep Usami too as Robbery can’t have too many more seasons left at the Allianz. Kovacic has also cropped up as a potential buy for AM depth.

    Alex would be great cover, and there must be some reserve talent (Erb maybe) who could be promoted. Although Hummels would be the ultimate.

  2. shaqiri – a very realistic signing especially if Usami is a bust
    hazard – one for the future, especially when Robben decides to leave
    montolivo – close, but tymo decided to stay at bayern rather than move to anzhi. if tymo left, montolivo’d be in bayern
    as for the defense, Breno has this one season left to prove he can be in the CB rotation. or else…Alex from Chelsea.

  3. Depending on Friedrich’s actual physical state he could even be decent defensive cover for Bayern. DvB’s into his last season and Breno is stagnating. Friedrich also needs the profile of being at Bayern (or at the least; Leverkusen, Schalke or Werder) to force his way back into Jogi’s thinking for Euro 2012 – although this looks like a long shot with the development of so many centre-halves.

    And talking of summer recruitment all the German sides look comparatively lighter in terms of depth than, say, their EPL counterparts but this generally has the upside of providing openings for young homegrown talents such as Goetze and others at Dortmund, Badstuber and Mueller etc. The austerity measures combined with Sammer’s nationwide youth academy revamp are really paying dividends so long as only a few players leave each season once they’ve attained relative maturity (eg. Oezil, Khedira, Sahin, Dzeko).

    Bayern could maybe have done a bit more – Shaqiri (via the Fink connection) should be targeted to back-up Robbery and central defense/defensive midfield (if/when Tymo goes) needs bolstering too…

  4. exactly. see, reus, traesch and klose were on the market, and could have cost a hefty sum of somewhere around a grand total of 18-20 million Euros but still…considering that the Champions LEague brings in so much money, and that BVB have so many fans filling up that stadium, you’d think they’d look forward.

    giving sahin to real was total non-sense. has he even played yet? NO. Its just Real’s attempt to equal or better Barcelona, even furthering the DUOPOLY that is La Liga.

    I also heard that arne friedrich is now on the free agents market. Which young team would need a good veteran CB when healthy? Leverkusen. Schalke. Bremen. all good options for Friedrich. Wolfsburg was a mistake… even Kjaer found that out quickly…

    leverkusen might need a vet CB for the UCL… critical to have somebody teach Toprak and Reinartz proper positioning. schalke needs a stable partner for capt. howedes. and bremen need all the defensive help they can get.

  5. Totally agree with Vic re: Dortmund’s hesistancy in the transfer window.

    Reus as a native Dortmunder would have been the perfect (and Bundesliga road-tested) creative foil for Goetze and Kagawa and could have provided the attacking outlet in the event of injuries, suspension, 2nd season syndrome etc.

    Klose (whilst obviously tempted by a lucrative Roman adventure) could have been lured with the promise of CL football and as a mentor to Barrios/Lewandowski. Traesch’s versatility is well-known and he could have slotted in for Kehl in DM. Given that none of the above have arrived and the season is still new, trust has to be placed in Gundogan/Perisic and the rest of the title-winning squad but it does look like an opportunity missed at the moment.

    I’d still bank on Kloppo rallying the troops to get out of their CL group (and maybe eventually finding a system to accommodate Gundogan or Leitner as the ersatz-Sahin) but Bayern will be hard to reel in from here.

  6. Dortmund could have addressed their needs more in the transfer window by being very prudent.

    No buyout clause for Sahin. Absolutely no excuse for that 10 million “paltry sum” for such a key player.

    Reus, Klose, Traesch could have been brought in. Three dynamic players who can offer rotation, diverse tactic shifts and more unpredictability.

    I understand they won’t want to be in debt again, but keeping champions league places is possible ONLY when you have a good team year in year out. Flux = inconsistency.

  7. Sure, Dortmund played a nice soccer last year – but they swam on a wave and even mediocre players played very well. Nobody expected much – so the expections were beaten.

    Now they had success. Everybody expects them to finish in one of the top spots. Just – important persons have left and were not equally replaced, maybe some of the team are more celebrated in press than others, some get better contracts and some do not…

    Maybe they still tell each other that they are a team, but nobody runs that extra 10 per cent for the other anymore…

    If you look into bundesliga history you can often see that. The most clubs that have won the Bundesliga apart from Bayern had problems the next year to reach CL-Qualification.

  8. —————-Neuer——————
    ————–Hummels—————
    ———Boateng——-Badstuber——
    Lahm—————————-Rausch
    ———-Schweini—Kroos———–
    ——————Ozil—————–
    ———-Schurrle—Gomez———–

    That would be quite devastating on paper. Since I started watching football from 96′ and the 3-5-2 with the libero was slowly becoming obsolete by the time I really got into it, I rarely got a chance to watch this formation in action and have always been fascinated by it, also considering how much success Germany had in the 90’s with it.

    Its difficult to play that formation against the much used 4-2-3-1 which would put the wing backs under constant pressure there by making it difficult for them to attack and having 3 central defenders usually up against 1 striker is pretty unnecessary. Though I would think of a rotation where Boateng and Badstuber would move to cover the wing backs (since they are comfortable at RB and LB respectively) when Lahm and Aogo attack then having basically Hummels man mark the 1 striker and Schweinsteiger cover the CAM. Would make it sort of a 6 man attack with a 4 man defence. Risky but interesting. That being said, if Low is crazy enough to make the 4-1-4-1 he’s envisioning work, then I guess the 3-5-2 might be a peace of cake for him.

    On to Dortmund, I agree with Kagawa. His form as been a bit off but his movement is still pretty good which is not something that I think Gundogan provides though Gundogan’s ability to play killer passes is much better. With Dortmund’s movement up front I think Kagawa would be a better fit alongside Gotze and Perisic. That being said, Gotze won’t play tomorrow and most like Kuba will. Kuba sure as hell won’t leave that right wing so maybe having the passing ability of Gundogan might be better.

  9. Excellent point regarding Hummels. For the u21 he played in midfield I recall because he had the attributes to and I always wondered since teams like Barca have shown glimpses of playing with a traditional center-half or libero, if someone would dare attempt it with Hummels. I think it’s a feasible option albeit Hummels will always look to drive the ball forward instead of keeping it to retain possession but he has the arsenal for sure and I wouldn’t be surprised if we see more of this in the future.

    Regarding Goetze in central midfield, we might see it here and there but only out of necessity – he’s far too valuable an asset in attack and their creativity is anchored in his time on the ball in the final third. Perhaps Gundogan could also play instead of Kagawa as another option, which I’m surprised didn’t happen yet considering the form Kagawa has been in as well.

    One thing is sure, interesting times are ahead at Dortmund – not just because of their brand of football but because of the infinite possibilities of tactical mutations that is inherent in this side.

  10. The form of the aforementioned players will return surely and that’s a promising thing for sure. The thesis of this article is meant to highlight the tactical importance of a retainer in Klopp’s primary gameplan and it’s clear fallout due to its absence.

    Having said that I haven’t yet seen indicators of Klopp’s intention to vary their own tactics. If anything there’s been a somewhat aggressive intent to play like last season, just to another level – and therein I believe lies the regression. One can’t force a team to play to the next level if transitions aren’t properly accommodated.

  11. I’m trying to keep this short beause I want to watch Lautern – Mainz now.
    Even with Sahin we would have lost against Hoffenheim and Berlin. Dortmund’s first priority is based on defense and quick transmission. The obvious result is that a team with those priorities will face problems if the opponent isn’t even trying to attack but plays über-catenaccio. Also a thing nearly every other team in the world would see trouble. Dortmund is lacking creativity, since Gündogan isn’t really able to play great through balls yet, since it will only be his 7th game for Dortmund against Hannover. Automatism are the most important things on that position. Klopp is working on tactical variety, but it just won’t come out of the blue, especially when you don’t have too much time on the training ground with matches every 3 days and international breaks. Also Kagawa and Großkreutz are not in form, so our lack attacking fluidity has many more factors than Sahin’s absence and tactical obfuscation.
    It may take a whole season until Gündogan will suit our system and it certainly will take time until Klopp has figured ways out to break through very deep lying opponents.
    Many players are not in form, which is good to see when you look at little unforced errors and the lack of precision in 0815 passes.

  12. Wow, what an intelligent article Daniel, truly enjoy it from start to the end. Maybe you could write a piece about Monchengladbach / Hoffenheim, should be good also I believe.

  13. Rather than playing the ‘Sahin Role’, one thing I noticed during the Arsenal match was that Hummels was coming forward with the ball much more then usual and Kehl, being good defensively, was covering behind him (I don’t think Klopp could’ve done that as regularly with Sahin on the pitch). Since Sahin has left, I would say that Hummels is the best long range passer at Dortmund and therefore, since he has the ability and Kehl can provide the cover, he should be given more license to come forward from his CB position and try to dictate play from the back and get the ball wide quickly. He did quite a good job I feel, his pass to Kagawa was brilliant. So Kehl could have a role in that respect, Gundogan might be being brought into the side too quickly. One question as well regarding this, Gotze played the CM position towards the end of the Arsenal match and also played that role against Frankfurt in the last game of last season, he did quite well though admittedly against a relegation side. Do you think Gotze could have a part in that position this season?

    Barrios is certainly very good at bringing other people into play with his first touch passing but Lewandowski is pretty good at that as well. I think that is his greatest strength. Reus playing as a ‘False 9’ with Perisic as the left winger is a very interesting idea, Reus has shown versatility in being able to play as a striker but I would like to see Perisic show a bit more goal scoring capability since Reus is not someone to score 15+ goals a season I feel and would need support from others in the goal scoring department.

  14. Cheers Time,

    I agree. One man does not make a team but I believe Klopp and most of us have clearly underestimated Sahin’s tactical impact. A lot of claims about Barrios’ and Goetze’s return won’t make up for the large gap in midfield and Klopp’s persistence to make his men play as they did last season. Something’s gotta give.

  15. Cheers Hasan,

    I think the issues with Kehl are two-fold for me. For one his age, combined lack of pace and injuries make him very unreliable and secondly but more importantly he should be entrusted to play a role that he isn’t capable to play, namely Sahin’s role. Klopp could likely field a three-man midfield and that would likely be a better fit for Kehl.

    I think you’re right regarding the striker issue. Lewandowski will not deliver clinically for the time being but I do think in Barrios brings fantastic off-the ball movement and brings others into play. He was for me their second most important player last season tactically speaking and you could see the obvious fallout with his absence now.

    Klose would have been an excellent option, not only as a second option but for the likes of Barrios and Lewandowski to learn from. It was obviously a financial decision not to sign him but I believe Dortmund missed out even more on Reus as you mentioned. He will now likely be on the radar of clubs that will be more prone to throw money at him and Dortmund won’t be able to compete. He brings such fantastic skill and versatility and my ideal scenario was always a 4-3-3 or even 4-2-3-1 with Reus as the false nine. With Perisic perhaps replacing Grosskreutz the mobility of the side would increase incredibly and the goals would be spread out but more importantly Dortmund would become very unpredictable and nearly impossible to play. I really think if they don’t act this January they might not have a chance with Reus in the future.

  16. Nice piece, Daniel. Just hope that Sahin leaving is not going to be used as an excuse moving forward for Dortmund fans, because as we all know, ONE man does not make a TEAM.

  17. Brilliant piece, agree with it. I think everyone was worried about how Gundogan would come along defensively since Sahin improved his defensive game considerably as the season wore on, especially in the matches against Bayern. He was being played in a much more attacking sense at Nuremberg so it will definitely take time for him to settle into the system Klopp wants. For now, I think especially after the match against Arsenal (don’t laugh now), Kehl is the best option. As poor as the mistake he made, I thought he was good besides that in the sense that he offered a lot more defensive strength in the middle and barely allowed the Arsenal midfielders any space to hold possession like they are so famous for. The error might have been due to his lack of fitness for the past two seasons but I think his performance as a whole was encouraging. I would try to keep Kehl on at the start and then, if the match continues at a stalemate or Dortmund are losing, bring on Gundogan late on in order to get more offensive firepower.

    That being said, I still feel Dortmund’s main weakness is that they are lacking a proper striker. While Lewandowski’s lack of finishing is well documenting, I’m still not convinced with Barrios either. In the second half of last season when you could see opposition teams starting to play more defensively, Dortmund struggled. Their main problem was finishing any opportunities they got and with the lowering of clear chances due to more defensively astute sides, it started to effect their form. Lets not forget that Leverkusen were 30 minutes away from being 3 points behind Dortmund until Gotze went on that brilliant run against Hannover.

    When it comes towards their versatility in formation, I think they will be able to play 4-4-2 when Barrios comes back and then Klopp can play both of them if goals are needed. I was quite disappointed with Dortmund’s transfer season though, they had a great opportunity to sign Klose for free and also spend 8 ME on Reus, both of whom would’ve been fantastic signings (sorry, I just do not rate Grosskeutz). Klose’s ability to move the ball and rotate position would be perfect for Dortmund’s playing style, I don’t think contract would’ve been that big an issue as well, he signed a reported 35 K Euro’s a week deal at Lazio which could’ve been financed by maybe selling Barrios who said that he will not sign a new contract so could leave for cheap soon. Reus’ overall ability would be beneficiary for any side, especially one which doesn’t have a good LW. Rather then spending 5 ME Euro’s on Perisic, decent player till now, Dortmund could’ve spend a couple more and signed a much more proven Bundesliga player. I realize that Dortmund are still in debt and their main aim is to pay them off as soon as possible, but I don’t think spending 3 ME more would’ve been much of a problem.

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