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Apr 2012
19:15 Comments (8)

Friday 30 March 2012.

We had the opportunity to witness a great game of football last Friday, the kind that makes us love this sport. An alternating game that took swung different ways, which could have been won by either team and finished with a share of the points and goals. Eight goals in total, four per side, and so many chances to win or lose a game full of events. So if you want, let's try to clear our heads and debate what happened.

Borussia Dortmund have had an impressive streak at home and was at the top of the table, which is still the case, and were five points clear of Bayern Munich. But they had to win to stay ahead with a massive game to be played on Wednesday the 11th April. However, despite their dominance in almost every facet of the game during the first half, the clash ended with a result that might be a surprise. And not just because of the number of goals scored by the two teams, but also because of the fact that these eight goals were shared equally and the match ended in a 4-all draw.

It was obvious for all of us to see that Borussia Dortmund could have scored two or three goals in the first half and Stuttgart, who barely reached the opposition goalmouth, only had one chance that Schieber put over the bar and a controversial incident that could have resulted in a penalty and the sending off of the goalkeeper or a yellow card for striker Ibisevic of Stuttgart. The dominance and chances in the first half were for the home team, who were much better than their opponents, as we sai, in almost everything.

The match started with a lot of direct play and pressing by Borussia, with a corner and a shot from outside the area by Kagawa, all for the home team.

Then there came massive pressure, with more shots on goal and scoring chances in the opening minutes, with many players attacking if they regained the ball and they were able to counterattack with variety in their attacking game.
Lewandowski usually flicks on long balls with his head for his team mates in the second-line to win the second balls. The centre backs can play passes to the striker or second striker who plays back to the midfielders supporting or Subotic can accurately use a long switch of play. When they lose the ball, they press with many players and regain the ball quickly.

The wide players go inside to make room for the full backs to overlap. This is how they got the first goal, as we can see in the animation. A Schmelzer cross, received by Gündogan, and headed lay-off by Kehl that Kagawa finished after he had started the play with a good switch of play.

A shot against the post, a ball kicked off the line and other dangerous shots were not enough for Borussia Dortmund to get the coveted second goal.

The second half began in the same vein as the first had ended. A Dortmund chance with a shot against the post by the full back, Piszczek.

A little later, Kuba, also arriving at the back post, scored the second and at 2-0 on the scoreboard and everything going in their favour, it seemed that the match could not get away from Borussia.

On the other hand, Stuttgart had to attack and the home team mounted some dangerous counterattacks but without any success.

Kvist issued a warning of the visitors' intentions with a shot against the post after 62 minutes and, then after a chance for Kuba and Dortmund, came the first Stuttgart goal. A long ball, a lay-off in the area and a good shot making it 2-1 after 70 minutes.

Six minutes later, another long ball and the two centre backs jumping for the same ball that the striker won, and the second ball won by Schieber who made it 2-2.

Two minutes later, in the 78th minute, lost possession in midfield and Schieber runs in to space behind the full back and it was 2-3 on the scoreboard.Dortmund increased the pressure to try to equalise and a regain of a ball, again in midfield also allowed Hummels to score with a shot from outside the box and tie the game in the 81st minute.

The game was swinging both ways and the home team continued pressing, but nerves were appearing in Borussia's defence, who nevertheless managed to make it 4-3 through Perisic, who had come off the bench to excellently finish from a corner.

From then until the end of the match, Borussia had reasonable control. They took a couple of short corners in the final minutes to waste time, however, they could not prevent the equalizer. A misunderstanding between Hummels and Schmelzer allowed Gentner to tie the match and this leaves an exciting top of the table Bundesliga clash with the upcoming game against Bayern Munich on April 11. Great for football.

01/04/12 at 19:31:09 #1
I think Dortmund are one of the most impressive sides around at the moment. They play with such great intensity in their pressing game and they play as a team in attack and defence.

One of the problems with high pressing is you have to do it as a team and this can end up leaving space between the lines. I've looked at some of the pressing from when you were at Liverpool and I noticed that if, for example, the opposition centre back got past the first line of pressing, the midfield would back off to a certain point so as not to leave space between the lines and then pressure when it got to a certain point. I've noticed this before and someone showed me this video which demonstrates it very well: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0y0OVXEcM7Q

How do you go about teaching and training this? And what if you lose the ball high and your midfield presses even higher, therefore leaving space between the lines? Thanks Rafa


Hello Jonny, you are right, you have to press together, if you don't regain, go back. It takes weeks to do that well. Thanks
01/04/12 at 19:33:02 #2
Hi Rafa, you had special few years in madrid and then later on in valencia.

After that, Liverpool became your home and you bacame a part of us.

May I ask which team has the most special place in your heart after so many years of managing different teams in Europe?


Hello, a big heart has space for everyone. Thank you.
01/04/12 at 20:50:50 #3
great analysis RAFA, again. Hope to see you managing soon so we can see the great footy you had LFC play being played again.

Heard rumors of a new book....hope it is FACT !
01/04/12 at 21:13:41 #4
Hi Mr Benitez,
I just came across this site now, and I'm very glad to know that you follow Borussia Dortmund keenly. Even I've been very much impressed by their style of play.
But there's one thing I've noticed - I could be wrong - but I feel that whenever Gotze plays, Kagawa kind of pales away in the game. Could it be because Gotze drifts inside too much to leave little space for Kagawa? If so, who do you think should play in the hole behind the striker and who on the right? You can see right now, when Gotze hasn't been playing becase of his unfortunate injury, Kagawa has been scoring freely, and has been more influential. I would like to know your opinion on this, sir.


Hello Yaji, good point, but to decide who has to play where it depends on the manager, he knows the player better than us. But, anyway, I like Kagawa behind the striker. Thanks.
02/04/12 at 00:10:28 #5
Excellent analysis as always. hope to see you as a guest on sky sports again soon. good luck
02/04/12 at 06:30:51 #6
Bobby Aus
Hi Rafa,
great game to watch and sets up the title race nicely. I've also been following a lot of Schalke games this year, and hopefully you have noted the form of Huntelaar, who's knack for finishing is something that has probably masked the defensive frailty of the team.

Also there is a job going at Sydney fc if you are interested in taking a years sabbatical ;) when we met outside Melwood 2 years ago you said you never know...

Thanks for the article, keep up the good work
02/04/12 at 19:30:33 #7
Hi Rafa
One thing that strikes me when watching Borussia is their ability to reclaim possession and their high percentage in winning second balls.
Is that just good positioning and anticipation or is it something extra done on the training ground?


Hello, they are high on the pitch, so close to the second balls.
03/04/12 at 02:21:49 #8
I feel Germany will win the Euros. Barrios is a clinical striker who is out of favour in this league...a certain premiership side who lack goals would do well to get him....what are your thoughts?


Hello, still I think Spain are favourites.

Barrios is a good striker, he can score goals, no doubt abotu that.