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The Big Match Tactical View: Borussia Dortmund v Bayern Munich

Jurgen Klopp has some crucial tactical decisions to make

Bayern’s possession dominance and width means they’re likely to win more corners
Back Bayern in Corners Match Bet at 1.434/9

Michael Cox believes Jurgen Klopp is the manager with the big decisions to make ahead of the Champions League final.

Borussia Dortmund v Bayern Munich, Saturday 7:45, ITV1 and Sky Sports 1.

Match Odds: Borussia Dortmund 5.04/1, Bayern Munich 1.784/5, The Draw 4.1n/a.

This all-German European Cup final will be the fifth contest between Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund this season, and the tenth across the last three campaigns. The teams know each other well, and the two managers understand each other's systems perfectly - the most recent clashes have had a slightly weary feel. Hopefully, there will be a tactical surprise to liven up the battle.

After a period of Dortmund dominance in 2010/11 and 2011/12, when Jurgen Klopp's side won all five fixtures against Bayern, this season the Bavarian side have looked in control throughout the four meetings. There have been victories in the German Supercup and the German Cup (both of which were more comfortable than the one-goal victories suggest), while the first Bundesliga draw played into the hands of Bayern, and the second was irrelevant with the title already won. 

Depending on your sample size, the head-to-head record looks OK for Dortmund, but make no mistake: the tables have turned, and Bayern have dominated this fixture over the past year.

Jupp Heynckes is still without impressive playmaker Toni Kroos, which means his selection for this game is entirely predictable. Daniel van Buyten might hope to start at centre-back ahead of Jerome Boateng, but otherwise it would be a huge surprise if Heynckes deviated significantly from the side that trumphed 3-0 at the Nou Camp. Mario Mandzukic will be upfront with Thomas Muller behind, and Arjen Robben out on the right. 

Klopp has more significant selection decisions to make. While the presence of Mario Gotze would have been controversial given his imminent transfer to Bayern, the playmaker's absence is a significant blow to Dortmund's chances. He, along with Marco Reus, are Dortmund's primary counter-attacking weapons - and Klopp's side will surely look to sit deep before hitting Bayern on the break.

In the past two competitive clashes against Bayern, Klopp opted to field a defensive-minded 4-3-3 side that looked more like 4-5-1 for long periods, rather than his usual 4-2-3-1. If the difference sounds minimal on paper, it certainly wasn't in practice - it meant Dortmund didn't play without a proper number ten, the player given most responsibility for launching swift counter-attacks.

Instead, Klopp has chosen to pack the centre of midfield, moving one of his wide players - either right-sided Jakub Blaszczykowski or left-sided Kevin Grosskreutz - into a more central position. This seems a response to Bayern's improvement in the centre of midfield this season - Javi Martinez and Bastian Schweinsteiger are a brilliant midfield pairing, and it seems like Klopp wants an extra body in that zone to cope.

If he was undecided between the usual 4-2-3-1 and the slightly more cautious 4-3-3, the absence of Gotze will surely convince him to play a more defensive game. This would mean both Grosskreutz and Blaszczykowski starting, probably with Grosskreutz in the central position and Reus deployed from the left, joining Robert Lewandowski upfront. 

The alternative is Blaszczykowski right, Grosskreutz left and Reus behind Robert Lewandowski in the standard 4-2-3-1 - that's the way many expect Dortmund to start, but it would be a brave move.

Klopp's starting strategy will essentially define this match. Dortmund's teamsheet might not reveal any big clubs - we'll have to wait to see how his players start the match to ascertain their formation.

The other major issue is pressing - in some previous meetings, both sides have closed down heavily from the front and squeezed the game into the middle third of the pitch, making the contest fast-paced. In other matches, Dortmund have sat deep and countered, while Bayern's front two have dropped into Dortmund's holding midfielders to keep the side compact. A probable compromise is for both to press in the opening ten minutes, before the game settled down and Bayern dominate.

Dortmund have often defended narrow against Bayern, and Franck Ribery and Robben might be given space on the flanks, available for quick switches of play from long balls. They could cause real damage, and while both like to cut inside, Bayern's possession dominance and width means they're likely to win more corners - you can back Bayern in Corners Match Bet at 1.434/9.

Bookings Match Bet is another interesting market. Dortmund will spend longer without the ball, but Bayern might run a greater risk of picking up bookings, as their fouls will be about breaking up counter-attacks - something both Schweinsteiger and Martinez can be guilty of. I'll back Bayern in Bookings Match Bet at 2.56/4.

Recommended bets:
Back Bayern in Corners Match Bet at 1.434/9
Back Bayern in Bookings Match Bet at 2.56/4

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