x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 29 July 2017

Champions League: A formative thought process for Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund

Against Bayern in the league, Jurgen Klopp changed his approach, switching from 4-2-3-1 to 4-3-3, an acknowledgement after the Super Cup defeat that Bayern have improved, says Jonathan Wilson

Borussia Dortmund won two Bundesliga titles by pressing hard and high up the field. They were a relentless swarm, systematically targeting two or three of their opponents they had isolated as being weaker on the ball - or at least more susceptible to panic - than their teammates.

This season, though, they have eased back. A poor Champions League campaign last year taught them that against sides with higher technical ability, pressing was less effective; teams simply bypassed the first wave of the press, leaving Dortmund vulnerable.

So this season they have been more discerning, more focused in their pressing, often sitting off until opponents had crossed halfway before closing down.

Against Bayern in the league game in Munich last December, and in the Cup in February, Jurgen Klopp changed his approach, switching from 4-2-3-1 to 4-3-3, sitting deep and looking to prevent Bayern building attacks in wide areas - itself an acknowledgement after the Super Cup defeat that Bayern have improved, perhaps even worked out how to counter Dortmund's pressing game.

In the league match that meant Jakub Blaszczykowski moving infield and Mario Goetze moving to the right, in the Cup, Kevin Grosskreutz came in on the left of the midfield three with Blaszczykowski left out as Gotze went right.

With Goetze injured the likelihood is that Grosskreutz will replace him, but the big question is whether Dortmund stick with the 4-2-3-1 with which they demolished Real Madrid in the semi-final or whether they revert to a more defensive 4-3-3, looking to prevent Javi Martinez creating the play from deep.