The Bundesliga has heated up once again and the massively awaited ‘Klassiker’ between two of the Germany’s finest in Borussia Dortmund and FC Bayern is coming up at the Signal Iduna Park on Saturday. With Borussia Dortmund given an unexpected chance thanks to Mainz’ 2:1 win over Bayern few days ago, which could see Dortmund closing the gap to just two points come the end of this matchweek.
But having said that, FC Bayern are still the hot favorites of lifting their fourth consecutive titles, even more so, considering how Bayern dismantled Dortmund 5:1 when these two sides met at the Allianz Arena back in October.
So, Thomas Tuchel will not need to make much change if he want to see his side giving Bayern a tough run for their money. In this article, I will take you through some key aspects Tuchel needs to look upon to stop the mighty Bayern from destabilizing them – again.
1. Stopping Bayern’s build up play
For Bayern Munich, defense is not just defense where you sit back, defend the counter attack and move up in the set piece situations. On the contrary, Bayern’s defense is amazingly evolved in a way that they can contribute to the attacking even within from their half.
First, defenders play out from the back to create the first phase attack; they can even pick out the stellar attacking duo of Thomas Müller and Robert Lewandowski using their effectiveness with the long balls. Players like Jerome Boateng (injured right now – of course), Philipp Lahm and David Alaba have created a whopping 59 chances so far this season with Boateng already picking up three assists to his name.
But it’s not just their attacking qualities, they guys are defensively faultless too. Among the Bayern defenders this season, only Alaba has made just one defensive mistake, which led to goal – in Alaba’s case against Hoffenheim when Kevin Volland scored the quickest goal in Bundesliga history – and this stability pretty much explains how crucial could their defense be when these sides meet yet again on Saturday.
To counter Bayern’s solidity, Tuchel will likely put the onus on “ARM”, the so-called front three of Aubameyang, Mkhitaryan and Reus, to stop Bayern from playing out from the back and use their cover shadows to prevent any passes through the middle in order to force Bayern to play down the wider areas.
2. Nullifying Lewandowski
During the only five match Bayern haven’t won this season, opponents managed brilliantly to nullify the Polish forward in all five cases. Lewandowski managed no shots on target in the draw over Frankfurt and in the loss over Mainz recently, while his two shots were blocked against Leverkusen.
Back in October, in the 5:1 defeat over Bayern, personally, I was so terrified when Lewandowski was given that much freedom in the box, although that’s not whole reason of him getting that much freedom because it’s mainly down to the fact that the Dortmund team structure lost shape after the third goal from Bayern, the level of compactness declined, therefore spaces opened up for the players like Lewandowski to take advantage of, something he’s so good at. And Tuchel must make sure this doesn’t happen again so the correct thing to use here is #DontCrackUnderPressure.
3. Praying for Roman Bürki
Imagine a team playing a very well executed plan to stop one of the most feared teams in the current footballing era, being very compact, offering no space, frustrating the opposition and then just at that moment, the goalkeeper fluffs his lines to concede an inconceivable goal. The whole team would get demoralized. In the blink of an eye, the title dreams, broken, shattered.
Yes, that’s the kind of importance a goalkeeper has when it comes to facing the big clubs on big moment. A goalkeeper has to perform in his peak in that match because no matter how well executed plan you have or how compact you can be, mistakes will eventually happen and just at that moment, the keeper HAVE TO bring out the best in him to keep his team ticking.
Goalkeepers like Petr Cech, Yann Sommer, Lukas Hradecky and Loris Karius being the latest, have all been through this period this season. They stood like a rock to keep out Bayern. Going into this game Roman Bürki has a similar role to play as well. He made an awful amount of mess in his previous encounters against Bayern. He will be making sure that doesn’t happen again.
4. Trying something new?
Thomas Tuchel has used a 4-2-3-1 or a 4-1-4-1 formation all season but what if he could tweak the formation a bit? Maybe a new approach? A change for the better? Welp, at least that’s what I prefer.
A four man defensive chain hardly works when it comes to playing against Bayern so why not change that bit! Both Andre Schubert and Martin Schmidt succeeded playing a three at the back pendulating formation this season. If you want know more about this kind of formations and tactics, prefer to read this article first.
I prefer to play three at the back, Neven Subotic as RCB, Sven Bender as CB and Mats Hummels as the LCB. With two wingbacks in Lukasz Piszczek (As RWB) and Erik Durm (LWB). (I chose Erik Durm because I doubt Schmelzer’s ability to play as a wingback anyway that’s my personal view). In the midfield, there will be two No.6 in Ilkay Gündogan and Julian Weigl pivoting the midfield. While, the front three ‘Auba, Reus and Miki’ deployed upfront to press the defensive midfielder and the defenders to stop Bayern playing out from the back, where Mkhitaryan will work as a Number 10 or a Number 8 depends on the situation.
— Anas Ali Molla (@CoverShadow09) March 4, 2016
The Right Wing Back will position himself a bit deeper compared to the Left Wing Back but at the same time a bit ahead of the central defenders. The wing backs will have a big role to play. In the attacking phases they(or one of them, probably Durm) will move up the pitch while in defensive phases both will drop back in the defense making it look like a five man defensive chain. If necessary, one of them could drop in the midfield, if the other midfielder get out of position, therefore, keeping the shape intact.
Moreover, playing three defenders at the back means you have one extra player to overcrowd the midfield. Overcrowding the midfield helps cover the spaces well and the opposition gets so little space to work it to play down the middle therefore, is forced to play out wide, which can be very effective against a team like Bayern Munich. Borussia Mönchengladbach and 1. FSV Mainz 05 used this kind of tactic against Bayern to good effect.
Although Tuchel is less likely to use this formation because, as stated earlier, he has worked with a different formation all season, but if you consider the fact that how Martin Schmidt made the change to 5-3-2 after using a 4-4-2 all season, this could prove to be fruitful.
Overall, the match is going to be fiercely contested between the two sides. Although Bayern have much broader chance of winning it but hey! Borussia Dortmund are unbeaten in 2016 and have looked much better defensively conceding just two goals in the Bundesliga keeping five clean sheets in the process, while Bayern have looked flat since Pep Guardiola announced that he is going to leave Bayern at the end of the season and held back by so many injuries.
All in all, The Westfalenstadion will surely be on fire this Saturday.
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