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Every Bundesliga team has a plan for how they want to get in front of the opponent’s goal and score goals. Therefore, talking about a “missing idea” when in possession of the ball is completely wrong. This also applies to Borussia Dortmund, although at the moment there is a lot to criticize BVB for.

It’s more about interpreting and implementing guidelines and principles, including commonly used processes – even at Dortmund. And it is about the center of the game, which creates rhythm, structure and order – if it is placed accordingly. Because that’s exactly what BVB has been missing in the last few weeks.

Decent protective behavior

In the two games against Bayer Leverkusen and Stuttgart, and in some cases earlier, Dortmund’s midfield had a big task to break down the opponent’s attacking play in the first wave. To close the enemy’s center, direct him to the flank and establish access there.

And despite all the criticism of the performances in Leverkusen and Stuttgart, it must also be noted that this plan worked. Both Bayer and VfB had huge problems opening up Dortmund’s block in their positional play. Apart from a lot of possession and a lot of passing around the Dortmund penalty area, there was nothing special at first.

Leverkusen had several long shots and a chance to score, but then it was disallowed. During the half, after a long relay of the ball, VFB did not make a single dangerous shot on goal. It was also a credit to Dortmund’s defensive midfield, which was tightly linked to the chain of four or five players behind it and left so little space between them.

Origin of goals conceded in midfield

But the truth is – and this was ultimately the crux of the matter against Leverkusen and in Stuttgart – that this level of defense at the highest level could not be sustained for more than 90 minutes. Because some players are tired because other players have joined the already luxurious hospital. Because, in turn, the opponent was able to maintain the pressure and maintain the pace against Borussia, who take the field every three or four days.

And because then there were gaps, like when goals were conceded: in Leverkusen the midfield opened up and with false anticipation Mats Hummels The space in the penalty area suddenly became free. In the 1-1 draw, VfB played through the defender in Dortmund’s block and reappeared in defense through Enzo Milhaud. Just two Stuttgart strikers tied up all five Borussia defenders, who were also playing in the same line. Pass to Sera Ghirasi, goal. These are small errors that have a big impact, but are not structural problems in themselves.

There is virtually no pressure resistance in BVB

But BVB had it as soon as the ball was at their feet. Edin Terzic and Sebastian Kehl declared “good possession” minutes before kick-off in Stuttgart. In fact, the situation gradually worsened, and the biggest construction project in Dortmund’s game became more than visible: in the BVB deep structure there are almost no players capable of coping with the opponent’s aggressive pressure.

Mats Hummels or Nico Schlotterbeck manage to do this from time to time when they dribble quickly. They then brought an important impetus to Dortmund’s game when they crossed the lines with the ball at their feet, creating distribution problems for the opposition and ultimately creating Dortmund’s scoring opportunities. A striking example of this was the game in Newcastle.

Dortmund’s six are currently extremely overloaded with these creative tasks. This is not as noticeable against opponents who want to be less bold and risky when launching. Leverkusen has already crushed BVB with their pressing. And VfB achieved so many high victories over BVB in two games that four or five goals could have been scored in the next transition.

These were moments in which Dortmund would have almost abandoned games in the past if the opponents had been a little more determined and cooler in front of goal. Dortmund’s developmental play became the point of attack for VfB, pressing and counter-pressing as playmakers. An original idea from Dortmund.

Players are overloaded, processes are barely discernible

Already after the first game of the season, heated public debate broke out, initiated by the coach himself and his captain. Emre Canposition individual players within their own game structure. About the useless superiority in the first line of formation and, as a consequence, the lack of communication in the center of the field with the attackers.

In Stuttgart this was not a problem, also because Can was already in the five-man chain as additional protection. But the lack of resistance to pressure from Salih Ozcan and Marcel Sabitzer, Can also rarely stands out positively in this category, Felix Nmecha is currently injured. Already in the championship match against VfB it was clear that BVB did not have enough players capable of withstanding the pressure and retaining the ball under constant attack from the opponent. This problem was abundantly clear in Wednesday’s cup game.

There are not enough right players

On the one hand, this is due to the profiles of the players: Dortmund no longer has the classic pace-setter and players who can turn around from difficult situations. Just like she has competitors in Joshua Kimmich, Granit Xhaka or Angelo Stiller. Mo Dahoud was such a player, and of course Jude Bellingham was too; Raphael Guerreiro has been a real weapon at fullback at times and, not coincidentally, the best provider in the league. All three are now playing for other clubs.

But also because there are no ingrained passing chains, each player knows how to position himself, when and where to follow up and make his opponent jump.

This is why many things seem so improvised and incoherent. It all starts with a lack of calm on the ball and continues in a chain reaction. The impulse to always be a little faster and further than the opponent when in possession and thus exude activity is lost.

Otherwise, this is a large improvisational theater, which is enough in many games thanks to the individual class of the Dortmund attackers. But BVB also reach their limits brutally against the best teams.


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