Borussia Dortmund – APOEL Nicosia 1 – 1 Tactical Analysis
Dortmund’s recent ugliness showed up again at home this time, where the German club failed for a second match in the row to beat Cypriot champions, APOEL.
Now they face a situation only few could imagine after the group stage draw. They have 2 points – as many as APOEL – and they are in danger of not only missing the Champions League knockout stages, but also not playing in Europe at all come 2018.
Dortmund once again dominated possession (78% – 22%), had a whopping 92% pass accuracy combined with 29 attempts, but they were superficial in front of the goal and scored just once.
Marc Bartra played again in a right-back position, while Raphael Guerreiro returned to his left-back duties. Weigl was the defensive midfielder with Kagawa and Gotze in front of him, in a quite attack-first minded 4 – 1 – 4 – 1 (similar to the system that Pep Guardiola preferred when at Bayern). Aubameyang was the only striker, with Pulisic and Philipp on the wings.
APOEL defended very well within their half of the pitch, using two zones of four players in front of their box, therefore not letting Dortmund find spaces and gaps to pass through balls.
Weigl was the player to receive the first pass from the defenders to start the build-up, but he was well closed more often than not and with Gotze and Kagawa in more advanced areas the ball returned to the centre-backs most of the time.
We can say that Peter Bosz was right not to start Castro and Sahin together in midfield – both slow and lacking physicality for the style that Bosz wants to play, but placing Weigl alone in that space between defence and midfield wasn’t a great idea either.
We see here how Sokratis searches for Weigl, who is well marked though – so is Kagawa behind him – and there is a huge space in midfield where there is no other Dortmund player for the Greek defender to pass.
Dortmund’s goal came as a result of just that: some of Dortmund’s players moved forward in the midfield (Bartra) and some others (Gotze) came deeper to distribute the ball easier. Guerreiro left his position and found himself among APOEL defenders, received a brilliant assist from Kagawa and headed it home.
Guerrero seemed to be Dortmund’s biggest threat during the first half, as he burst forward with pace and had some good combinations with Philipp and his central-midfielders.
After the goal Dortmund sat a little deeper in an attempt to secure their lead until the break. Kagawa and Gotze helped with pressing, but were also ready to start dangerous counter-attacks if they had the chance.
APOEL had some bad choices when in possession, so the two teams headed to the locker rooms with Dortmund having a fragile 1 – 0 lead.
In the early stages of the second half, Dortmund’s defenders were more free to pass the ball to each other, because APOEL chose to pack the midfield and let them have a useless possession.
When Pulisic lost the ball too easily in the 51st minute, Bartra tried to win it back with a failed tackle, which meant that Dortmund’s right flank was free for Aloneftis to carry the ball until he was in his opponents’ box, passed it to Carlao – who took advantage of Dortmund’s defenders failing to cover for their teammates – and assisted Pote for the equalizer.
Dortmund had the biggest chances after that – two of them hitting the woodwork – with Philipp, Aubameyang and Kagawa wasting the most dangerous of them.
Bosz’s players wasted a lot of good chances once again, which now seems the biggest issue the Dutch has to address, before ‘’Der Klassiker’’ this Sunday against Bayern Munich.
Dortmund are now without a win in 6 Champions League games and face an early elimination from a very competitive group of course, but Dortmund’s fans haven’t witnessed what they have been expecting since their team’s brilliant start to the season.