Rafa Benítez Blog RSS Rafa Benítez Blog

Apr 2012
21:47 Comments (23)

There was a fantastic atmosphere in and around the stadium an hour and a half before the match I attended last night in Dortmund, where Bayern were the visitors for a crucial match in the race for the Bundesliga title. The majority of the fans were, of course, supporters of the home team but the Bayern fans also made a great contribution to the electric atmosphere showing how passionate German fans are for football. With 29 matches of 34 played and the teams first and second in the table with just 3 points separating them, the game was always going to be significant in the final destination of the title. Dortmund’s win has seen them pull 6 points clear with just 4 matches remaining which now makes it extremely difficult for the Bavarian side to get the top spot, so let’s have a look at how the game developed.

Both teams started with their usual system of 1-4-2-3-1 (as shown in the screenshot) with Kagawa playing behind Lewandowski for Dortmund and Muller fulfilling the same role for Bayern behind Mario Gomez.

Borussia Dortmund started the game with a high defensive line and tried to use their usual pattern of their wide players, Grosskreutz and Blaszczykowski, coming inside to receive, then passing almost without looking to midfield players or the forwards. The full backs also were getting forward on both sides and Lewandowski was looking either to pass to supporting midfield players or make runs behind defenders, working the channels. We have seen these automatic movements in many previous matches.
Kagawa was operating well between the lines and his mobility makes him a threat, despite the attentions of Bayern’s Luis Gustavo, who was trying to stay close to him.

As for Bayern, their transitions were not quick enough and this was giving Borussia the time to press the player in possession, especially in the wide areas against Bayern’s players with ability, Robben and Ribery. Dortmund’s wide players were working very hard to support their full backs defensively whenever Bayern got the ball wide, creating 2v1 to counter any threat. Ribery was coming too deep at times to receive the ball and affect the game. Bayern were reliant on the ability of their wide players and in the first half only managed to threaten Dortmund with a counter attack after 19 minutes and a shot from distance by Kroos after 29 minutes when they regained the ball high and countered.

The home team had some clear chances in the first 15 minutes, firstly for Blaszczykowski who put the ball just wide, although Neuer managed to narrow the angle giving little of the goal to aim at, and then Grosskreutz after 5 minutes which forced a good reaction save from the Bayern goalkeeper.

Dortmund were dangerous at set pieces and on 37 minutes, a Lewandowski header from a good delivery in to the box after a corner hit the post. Kagawa also made a run in to the area but was unable to finish with his reverse shot. The home side were better in the first half with Bayern unable to create much with their slower transitions.

In the second half, Bayern came out with a different game plan and this gave them more possession. They were using switch of play to their wide players and long balls behind defenders. This was giving their wide players more time on the ball and it forced the home team deeper. Generally, there was more intensity to their game with the whole unit higher up the pitch. Dortmund became more reliant on regaining deep and counter-attacking whilst still trying to contain any threat from the opposing wide players with 2v1 defending.

After 60 minutes, Bayern introduced Schweinsteiger for Muller, pushing Kroos higher but still played long as they had been doing. Dortmund brought on Leitner and Perisic for Gundogan and Kagawa after 75 minutes but maintained their game plan.

Shortly after, on 76 minutes, the home team went ahead scoring the only goal of the game. It came from a simple short corner where Grosskreutz latched on to a second ball clearance and his shot was back-heeled in to the net from close range by Lewandowski who was onside as Robben had not come out quick enough.

On 84 minutes Bayern were awarded a penalty as Robben played a combination and made a run in to the box. The Borussia goalkeeper went to ground bringing Robben down in the process. The kick, also by Robben, was saved by Weidenfeller and this sent the atmosphere up a few more notches, consequently producing more intensity on the pitch.

In time added on Bayern had a cross turned on to the Dortmund bar and Robben put the rebound over. Lewandowski, for the home team, also hit the bar with a chip after a good run down the side of the central defender but the game was to finish with Dortmund taking the 3 crucial points to put them in the driving seat for the last few games of the season. This makes the title extremely difficult for Bayern to win but they still have their semi-final clash in the Champions League which, if they win, will pave the way for the final in their home stadium.

23 Comments Send us your opinions
12/04/12 at 14:33:05 #1
Hi rafa, splendid analysis as usual from yourself. I personally think that emotions got to Bayern. The penalty miss and then the open goal miss just before the end are indicative of players being too tense and making mistakes as a result. Regards

Keith YNWA
12/04/12 at 15:26:08 #2
Milivoj, Croatia
Hi Rafa,

it was nice to see you yesterday on Eurosport 2. Do you think, at present, that Bayern has individually a stronger side?

Is it team spirit and commitment in BVB that makes the difference?


Hello, at this moment the confidence in their work is the strength of B.Dortmund.
12/04/12 at 15:46:50 #3
Time for me to start following the German league. Thanks for your analysis. The formation the teams used 1-4-2-3-1, very similar to how you played LFC or was there a slight difference?


Hello, the B.Dortmund system is very similar to our system. Thanks.
12/04/12 at 16:12:12 #4
Ash Asani
Thanks Rafa, what do you make of Lewandowski? He seems to have all the attributes to be a top complete forward. He's still young, but despite not have a huge figure his hold up play was remarkable and he was always an outlet out for Dortmund when they were under pressure in the second half. He won so many headers against both Bayern centre backs.


Hello, I think you are right, he is good in the air and is working hard for the team. Good player. Thanks.
12/04/12 at 17:12:47 #5
Kagawa played well between the lines. He reminds me of Luis Garcia, Yossi and Voronin (for one game). I feel Liverpool need someone in that position if Gerrard plays deep.
12/04/12 at 21:19:32 #6
Hey Mr Benitez,

I'm visiting your site for the first time now and I'm really grateful that such a world class manager like you offers his opinion on the tactical aspects of football games.

It's nice for me to see Dortmund win because Jürgen Klopp has formed a team that plays in a very progressive manner. Bayerns approach is rather old-fashioned in my opinion. They rely on individual class of their players. So i think Dortmunds win is a win for football.

Anyways, thank you for your opinion. I'm looking forward to further articles.
12/04/12 at 23:21:52 #7
Hi Rafa, How will they do against Real? Regards


Hello, If Robben and Ribery have the ball they will be dangerous. They can cross and Mario Gómez will be there.
13/04/12 at 01:03:02 #8
Hi Rafa, do you feel Real Madrid will have to double up so much against Robben and Ribery or do you feel that their fullbacks have enough quality to be able to handle them 1-vs-1?


Hello James, they have to help the fullbacks but maybe with the midfielders instead with Ronaldo. Thanks.
13/04/12 at 16:20:06 #9
Hi Rafa,

First, a question for you, if you don't mind (lo siento por escribir en ingles; mi espanol no es bueno!).

When you first arrived at Liverpool (the club), in 2004, I sent you a long letter, handwritten, and all in Spanish, explaining that it was my dream to see Robbie Fowler back at L.F.C., and I hoped you would be able to bring him back (I was ecstatic when I read it was true, two years later!). I've always wondered whether or not you received it. Do you remember, by any chance?

My very best wishes to you, and I'm so glad you and your family love living on the Wirral, where I come from!
Take care!


Hello Chris, to be honest, I don't remember the letter, but I'm please to see that you were happy. My best wishes.
13/04/12 at 16:20:52 #10
Hola Rafa,

I just wanted to express my sadness that you are no longer manager of my club, Liverpool.

I don't wish to say anything bad against Kenny at all, but if I had my way, you would still be with us, as I wish you had never been forced out (put in a position where you could not do the job you wanted to do). How you put up with those two men is beyond me - as well as being able to achieve so much on the field, too. I dare not imagine what you may have done if you had had the correct support (moral, psychological, financial, etc) from all sections of the club.

If I understand your methodology correctly, you were making us into an ever stronger, ever more powerful unit. Some say that you had 'run out of ideas', but I believe that your team - the Liverpool team you envisaged - was only perhaps 70-75% complete, mainly because there were several (TOP-QUALITY) players you were wanting to sign, but couldn't. I believe we were at that level (70-75%) solely because (cont.)
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