Bundesliga Match of the Week Matchday 1: VfL Wolfsburg 0-3 Borussia Dortmund


VfL Wolfsburg 0-3 Borussia Dortmund (Pulisic, Bartra, Aubameyang)


After a poor preseason, Borussia Dortmund were looking to hit the ground running entering the new Bundesliga season. Under a new manager, Peter Bosz, Dortmund were looking to implement a style of play that proved to successful and a pleasure to watch at AFC Ajax. They did just that against Wolfsburg. From the get go they sought out apply the possession based football familiar with Bosz. Mixed with short passing and controlling the game in the opposing teams half, this system is difficult to deal with and Wolfsburg felt that. Winning the midfield in the initial stages, Dortmund found it straightforward dealing with their opponent. Working their way around Wolfsburg, primarily with short passing, Dortmund could dominate possession and look to create goal scoring opportunities. It was only a matter of time until Dortmund would get on the score sheet. That came in the 22nd minute when Aubameyang and Götze combined to set up the American wonderkid, Christian Pulisic. It was a beautiful finish by the 18-year-old. Dortmund were on the front foot and they showed no signs of slowing down. Continuing the pressure on Wolfsburg, it only took Dortmund 5 minutes to get their goal. Marc Bartra curled it into the top corner, a goal dedicated to the vicitims of the Barcelona attack. Everything was in favour of Dortmund, they were controlling the game and limited Wolfsburg opportunities. Halftime couldn’t come quickly enough for Wolfsburg.

Dortmund appeared to carry on how they left off. Bosz was in the driving seat and he wasn’t going to allow Jonker to take over. In the words of Conor McGregor, “we’re not here to take part, we’re here to take over”. That was certainly the case for Dortmund and Peter Bosz. Wolfsburg were struggling to gain any influence in the game. At the hour mark, Aubameyang put the nail in the coffin. Pulisic set up Aubameyang for a simple finish for the Gabonese forward. In the 69th minute Wolfsburg put the ball in the back of the net, but unfortunately for them it was rule offside by VAR. Dortmund were able to see out a one-sided encounter. 3 points, 3 goals, and top of the Bundesliga, Borussia Dortmund had little to complain about.


Borussia Dortmund:

  • 72% Possession
  • 3 Goals
  • 13 Shots (5 On Target)
  • 53% Duels Won – 67% defensive duels won (Matchday best) – 39% offensive duels won
  • 661 Passes (570 Short Passes, 81 Long Balls, 10 Crosses, Average Pass Streak 6)
  • 80% Pass Accuracy
  • 12 Chances Created
  • 10 Crosses
  • 16 Take Ons
  • 11 Interceptions
  • 18 Clearances
  • 10 Blocks

VfL Wolfsburg:

  • 28% Possession
  • 9 Shots (0 On Target)
  • 47% Duels Won – 61% defensive 33% offensive (Matchday Worst!)
  • 274 Passes (179 Short Passes, 84 Long Balls, 11 Crosses, Average Pass Streak 3)
  • 52% Pass Accuracy
  • 7 Chances Created
  • 10 Crosses
  • 13 Take Ons
  • 19 Interceptions
  • 19 Clearances
  • 16 Blocks

Borussia Dortmund are top of the table after the opening weekend for the first time since 1994/95

Aubameyang scored on the opening weekend for the fourth time in five seasons in Germany

Borussia Dortmund have won all five Bundesliga matches against Wolfsburg since losing to them in the DFB-Pokal Final in 2015

Christian Pulisic is the youngest foreign player to score 6 Bundesliga goals

(Statistics provided by Bundesliga.com, Squawka, Onefootball, WhoScored)


From the get go Borussia Dortmund proved to be the dominant side. In the opening 10 minutes Dortmund had 82.6% of the possession, implementing the possession based football that Bosz employs. With that being the case, Dortmund are able to dictate the flow of the came and the path it takes. Already in the opening 10 minutes that had 2 shots and a pass success % of 79%. What proves to be key to the system that Bosz employs, is passing, especially short passing.

It’s clear from the image above that Dortmund were dominating the passing game and the midfield battle. As a result, the domination of the game that ensued only meant bad news for Wolfsburg.

The passing game can’t be emphasized enough when it comes to Bosz and his new look Borussia Dortmund. In their game against Wolfsburg, Dortmund had a total of 661 Passes, with 570 being Short Passes. Bosz wants accuracy in passing and he definitely got that.  With a Pass Accuracy of 80%, Dortmund were able to control the game and win the battle on the pitch. One thing that is central this system is the link between defence and midfield. Statistics show this. Sokratis and Bartra were ranked 1st and 2nd in terms of the number of passes in the game. Sokratis had 107 passes with a pass accuracy % of 83.2, and Bartra had 99 passes with a pass accuracy of 74.8. As expected, closely following them in the rankings was Piszczek, Sahin, Castro and Zagadou. Without this, Dortmund would lack the spine needed going forward and creating opportunities. The positions and passing network provided by 11tegen11 show it in action.

With the domination in possession and passing comes creativity and chances. Dortmund were rewarded with a beautiful goal from Pulisic. Starting with Verhaegh being disposed by Zagadou. Zagadou provides a beautiful long ball up the pitch to Aubemeyang who works the ball into the centre of the pitch only to be disposed himself. Thankfully for Dortmund the ball fell to Gotze worked the ball back into the centre and passed the ball to Pulisic who put it into the back of the net. A well worked goal for Dortmund.

Continuing the style of play, Dortmund were yet again rewarded for their efforts. 5 minutes later and Bartra increased the lead with a sublime strike. Starting as a corner, Castro crossed it into the box to find Gotze who returned the favor passing back to Castro. Castro passed to Bartra carried the ball into the box only to curl the ball into the net. It was a beautiful finish.

It was paying off for Dortmund who in the first half had 9 shots and created 8 chances. It was only going to get better for Dortmund. Rewarded yet again for their efforts, Aubemeyang put the nail in the coffin. Carrying the ball in midfield, Castro passed to Piszczek on the right, utilizing the width. Piszczek passed to Pulisic who carries the ball into the box to find Aubameyang who put it into the back of the net. There was no stopping Dortmund.

Several conclusions can be draw from the game, the primary one being that possession based football was at the forefront of Dortmund’s style of play. Combined with short and accurate passing, it proved all too difficult for Wolfsburg to deal with. The equality in attack going forward can clearly be seen with 34% being down the left side, 30% up the middle, and 37% down the right side, slightly favoring Pulisic. The fluidity going forward is a testament to the system that Bosz employs. As well as the possession and passing statistics, this style of play can also been seen with the opportunities gained in open play. Of Dortmund’s 13 attempts, 10 were from open play.

Overall, Bosz and Dortmund will be leaving the game with a smile on their faces. They left Wolfsburg with very little opportunities in trying to influence the game. It was Dortmund domination.

Honourable Mentions:

  • Schalke 2-0 RB Leipzig
  • Borussia Mönchengladbach 1-0 1. FC Köln
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From Yorkshire, Callum fell for the beautiful game at an early age. The Bundesliga first caught his attention in 2014. Since then, his admiration and interest for the Bundesliga has developed greatly. Falling in love with what the Bundesliga and Germany has to offer was easy. So Callum, decided to put his passion into words. You can find him on Twitter @CallumSeniuk

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