Leverkusen overcome Dortmund - bitesize/teaser version

A little bit of a teaser from both halves from the 4-3 thriller

This a condensed version of what is a two part longer match analysis piece, available to paid subscribers - 5$ monthly, 50$ yearly - below:



Dortmund’s early pressing dictates the tempo for the first 20 minutes

With Bayer missing four defensive midfielders - Demirbay, Baumgartlinger, Aranguiz, Palacios - and starting new arrival Edmond Tapsoba, pressing Leverkusen was very much the early strategy for BVB. They nearly created a chance after 19 seconds, when Bellarabi was forced into a turnover, but Haaland’s return pass couldn’t find Sancho. At this phase of the match, when Leverkusen had the ball on the right side, Dortmund pressed the 3CBs with Hakimi joining Haaland and Sancho. Meanwhile Brandt-Witsel - Can created a 3v2 in the middle vs the double pivot of Lars Bender and Amiri, with Hummels tracking Volland, Zagadou on Havertz and Akanji following Diaby. With Favre comfortable leaving the ball-far LWB Daley Sinkgraven free, it resulted in B04 having a lot of left-sided defensive possession.

Dortmund effectively forced Leverkusen into a lot of back passes early and all of their CBs struggled to play forward passes, but at least they avoided turnovers.

Despite the clean passing maps of the CBs, the first 4-5 minutes did contain a number of poor touches and turnovers (Akanji, Bellarabi, Hakimi) in what was a nervous opening.

Dortmund’s buildup was focused on accessing Julian Brandt - Bürki even hit him from a goal kick -, who seemed to have the task of dropping into the left halfspace. Because Leverkusen pressed with 3 and had just 2 DMs against the now 3-man BVB midfield, Brandt who seemed to play in almost a free number 10 role was able to find space.

Here Havertz is late on the press and the trademark Zagadou laser hits Brandt,

who manages to turn out of the pressure from the oncoming Amiri and Tah stepping up and release Sancho on the wing - Bellarabi slid in to clear.

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The movement of Brandt also created more problems on Leverkusen’s right side: despite having played RWB earlier in his career (one 3-1 loss against Bayern comes to mind, )Bellarabi however seemed to struggle as a wingback with regards to knowing when to press. In this scene, Havertz actually presses Guerreiro and thus Bellarabi should stay and perhaps follow Jadon Sancho, who ends up going down the wing,

playing a superb one-two (Brandt back heel) and perhaps could’ve taken the shot instead of the extra pass to Haaland who cannot control the pass. The game’s first real big chance!

The 29-year-old had three further mistakes (getting nutmegged by Guerreiro) inside the first ten minutes, but an interception of Sancho’s pass, a Havertz slide tackle and a handball by the English teenager bailed him out…..

We fast forward to the second half:

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Tactical changes win the match for Bosz, defensive woes lose it for Favre?

Instead of Dortmund putting away their chances in the first 18 minutes of the second half, it was Leverkusen who nearly managed to capitalize on their first real chance: following a lofted ball towards Diaby, neither of Hummels/Witsel/Can was able to get a clean touch and the ball fell to Kevin Volland:

As Zagadou was caught watching the ball, Havertz was able to break away, but after careful consideration hit the near post…

Yet, instead of Leverkusen capitalizing on that chance, it was Dortmund who managed to take the lead via an unexpectedly great team goal:

-for starters it came via a right sided diamond by Reyna, Hakimi, Akanji and Can

-it included a rare disguised central pass by Akanji that shocked Leverkusen

-you can see how Volland and more importantly Lars Bender switches off Emre Can, fully expecting the Akanji pass to be a safe one to Hummels

-that pass already takes out the B04 frontline and Lars Bender

-Sinkgraven decides to step up to Can, which means he’s going to lose Hakimi, but can’t actually stop the through pass that is targeting Haaland - remember he’s back 1v1 vs Tapsoba

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-as Haaland turns inside, he sees Hakimi has gained a step on Sven Bender, who is helping out because Sinkgraven is caught in midfield

-being the extra defender, Tah has to react to the pass towards Hakimi, and while it’s not perfect, the Moroccan of course catches up to it and toe pokes it to Sancho, who plays a great one two and sends the Real Madrid loanee in on goal.

-Guerreiro basically has the entire left side, since Weiser has been following Sancho, and even a great recovery run from Sven Bender can only stop Hakimi from scoring directly.

Want to find out how B04 managed to turn the game around? Interested in seeing the breakdown of the last two goals? You wanna read more about Bosz’s adjustments and then Favre readjusting after 4-3 ? Did Dortmund lose the match or was it B04 that won it? What can both teams take from this match? For the answers to those questions and much more, please consider becoming a paid subscriber of the newsletter and reading the rest of the piece as well as an almost one year long archive full of Bundesliga insights, analysis and observations.

Cheers, Abel