Borussia Dortmund’s performance against VfB Stuttgart on Saturday was surprisingly weak at times. Just six months ago, the Swabians were on the brink of relegation to the 2nd Bundesliga. However, the team now seems much better trained and plays according to a match plan clearly defined by Pellegrino Matarazzo. BVB, on the other hand, may have stronger individualists on paper, but too often they act haphazardly.
This applies especially to his own game design, but also to his work against the ball, as was clear in the Stuttgart match. For a change, Dortmund had much less possession of the ball than their opponents, but could barely take advantage of it.
A weak point of coach Edin Terzic’s team is the midfield, the true heart of most teams. Of course, it was to be expected that Jude Bellingham’s departure would have a negative impact on BVB, since such an exceptional player cannot be replaced one by one.
Where Dortmund’s greatest strength lies
However, Dortmund have not even come close to giving the midfield a new identity.
Terzic recently tried, for example, a double six formed by Salih Özcan and Marcel Sabitzer or a combination of three in which the two mentioned were complemented by Felix Nmecha. None of these three, like the other midfield options, can currently assume the creative part in the preparation of the game.
For this reason, many passes in the opening match go towards the wings and not across the opposing midfield line. BVB rarely generate significant gains in space and the corresponding freedom for the attacking center around Julian Brandt and Marco Reus.
However, the ball has to fall to them, because that is where the Dortmund team’s greatest strength lies. If Brandt, Reus or Donyell Malen are practically excluded from the game, there can of course be no danger of scoring.
When it comes to gaining space through passing, Dortmund are statistically far behind Bayern Munich, Bayer Leverkusen and VfB Stuttgart and on par with TSG Hoffenheim and Eintracht Frankfurt.
BVB’s game structure under Terzic as a graphic
This is where Terzic should start
However, it is also problematic that BVB were also vulnerable defensively, for example in the match against Stuttgart, as well as against Bayern Munich. Sabitzer and Özcan were rarely able to close the spaces in front of the defense or provide the necessary support to the full-backs.
In general, Dortmund is inferior to some Bundesliga teams in terms of group tactics, that is, in terms of cooperation of the various parts of the team. These weaknesses can be attributed to the experienced players themselves, but also to coach Terzic.
There is no short-term solution in sight. It would be possible for the Dortmund coach to withdraw Brandt a little. The 27-year-old has played many good games as sixes and eights in his career.
However, he is not very strong defensively in one-on-one situations. But given the defeat to Stuttgart, Dortmund should probably abandon the idea that the rather expensive new additions can help form a defensive bulwark.
BVB needs a dominant playing style
What BVB needs is a dominant playing style that ensures that the opponent rarely reaches the final third of the field due to a high percentage of ball possession.
But to force possession of the ball and defend it against teams with strong pressure, playful creativity and breaking passes are needed. That is exactly what BVB currently does not have.
It is highly questionable to what extent Sabitzer and company will guarantee this in the coming weeks. That’s why Terzic has to rethink.