Matchday 3 pass-maps for BVB, Bayern, Werder & Gladbach

Here are the matchday 3 pass-maps and touch-plots for Dortmund, Bayern, Werder and Gladbach.

Bayern vs Mainz (31 Aug)

Although the final scoreline was convincing, it didn’t tell the full story of this game. Despite having 73 percent possession in the first-half, Niko Kovac’s team created worryingly little from open play and were only ahead at half-time thanks to a magnificent David Alaba free-kick.

Bayern’s one obvious attacking ploy – bang in loads of crosses and then bang in loads more crosses – did eventually lead to the third goal, which ended the game as a contrast. But Bayern fans can be forgiven for thinking that this talented squad is surely capable of far more nuanced play.

Philippe Coutinho’s half-hour cameo against Schalke in the previous matchday had raised hopes that he would quickly strike up a rapport with Robert Lewandowski.

But while only David Alaba managed to find Lewandowski more often than the Brazilian in this game, Coutinho’s five passes to the Bayern No.9 – over the course of 67 minutes in which Bayern dominated the ball – didn’t quite live up to the hype.

Moreover, the touch-plot shows that Lewandowski was a spectator for sustained periods of the game.

Dortmund vs Union Berlin (31 Aug)

In spite of the hysterical reaction that followed Dortmund’s defeat here, the result was mainly down to BVB’s failure to make the most of their openings in the first-half and, as Mathew Burt has already expertly detailed, a continuing vulnerability from set-pieces.

One curious aspect of Dortmund’s pass-map is that while Thomas Delaney’s enforced withdrawal at half-time tipped the game in Union Berlin’s favour, he wasn’t in any way integral to Dortmund’s passing chains while he was on the field.


The map also suggests that Dortmund’s problem wasn’t a failure to get the ball to the team’s most dangerous players, but rather that the likes of Marco Reus and Jadon Sancho so seldom had the ball in dangerous areas, especially after Dortmund went behind.

Achraf Hakimi replaced Nico Schulz at left-back and although his performance here wasn’t exactly greeted with joy by Dortmund fans, he did at least connect much more effectively with the team’s forwards than Schulz had done against Cologne in the preceding game.

Please note that as with Sancho and Thorgan Hazard last week, Sancho’s and Julian Brandt’s average positions being in the centre of the field here is due to more to them swapping flanks during the game than to them touching the ball often in central areas.

The touch-plot below shows just how peripheral Paco Alcacer was.

Werder vs Augsburg (1 Sep)

This encounter was almost archetypally Werder: breathless, open and deliriously entertaining. There was some fine attacking play from Bremen and a fair amount of awful defending, although the latter is understandable given most of their first-choice defenders are currently injured.

For all that Dortmund fans weren’t too sad to see him depart two summers ago, Nuri Sahin was excellent here, and the pass-map demonstrates that he was the fulcrum of Werder’s play.

But although they were all fine individually, there was little interplay between the front two of Niclas Fuellkrug and Josh Sargent, or Yuya Osako just behind them.

Gladbach vs Leipzig (30 Aug)

As with Leipzig’s previous match against Eintracht Frankfurt, this was a strange game. In both encounters, Leipzig were poor in the opening period, during which their opponents created the better of the chances, only for Leipzig to then take the lead courtesy of a scruffy goal out of nothing.

Here they scored after a spot of midfield ping-pong, having netted from a corner against Frankfurt the previous weekend.

Leipzig have been effective on the counter ever since they arrived in the Bundesliga, and we’ve known from back in the dark days of Ralph Hasenhuettl that Leipzig’s preferred approach is to get ahead early and then play on the break.

But despite the hype, what we’ve yet to see is any evidence that Julian Nagelsmann is more adept than his predecessors at ensuring Leipzig get that crucial first goal of the game. Their opening strikes in the past two matches have come far more by accident than design.

Moving on to Gladbach, the pass-map sadly doesn’t pick up that we saw moments of Denis Zakaria at his one-man wrecking ball best here. But it does show that Breel Embolo, who was exceptional in the #10 role, was fed effectively by both Florian Neuhaus and Marcus Thuram.

Finally, the game simply passed Fabian Johnson by, so it’s a little surprising that he wasn’t substituted until the final quarter-hour

In the pass-maps, player locations signify the average position where they touched the ball. The thickness of the lines represent the number of passes those players made to each other. Lines are omitted if fewer than four passes occurred.

Touch-plots show when players touched the ball during a game.

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Warren Pegg

Warren is a long-time admirer of German football and German beer. He roots for Borussia Dortmund, but above all greatly admires the Bundesliga's engaged, boisterous, and principled supporters. You can follow him at @Russell_Pegg on Twitter.

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