Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Man City 1-1 Dortmund - Away side dominate but don't win

Man City started with both Aguero and Dzeko up front, combined with Silva and Nasri in the wide positions. Nastasic started at the back.

Dortmund set out closer to a 4-5-1 shape with Gotze on the right, Kuba inside of him with Reus on the left.

First half

Jurgen Klopp said yesterday that his side had a plan to stop City playing and they stuck to their word. Dortmund defended as a 4-5-1, looking to stop City playing through the middle to Silva and Nasri between the lines. The away side's plan defensively was to start their press around the half way line especially the City holding players of Toure and Garcia when they had their back to the play. With Mancini's side using very slow transitions, the Germans were able to get behind the ball quickly into their shape and stop City playing penetrating passes down the middle.

This meant a number of things. The main thing was that it was almost impossible for City to play a forward pass between the lines. Two of their biggest chances in the whole match, came from two of the only times they'd manage to turn between Dortmund's defence and midfield.

The second thing it meant was that Yaya Toure was unable to make runs from holding midfield; he was pressed when he received it close to the half way line and Dortmund were so compact that it was very difficult to find space in the middle. Even when City went wide, Dortmund pressured with three players stopping penetration.

Dortmund pressing with three players in the wide areas

City therefore only really looked a threat when they went long for Dzeko (who was caught offside four times) or on quick transitions, few and far between.

Dortmund's attack was also extremely impressive. Klopp's side use of pressing triggers (waiting for loose pass, horizontal pass, one player presses then the whole whole team presses), led to some very dangerous counter attacks and it was only because of Joe Hart that it was 0-0 at half time. Dortmund had especially targeted the right hand side when attacking with Gotze, Piszcek and Kuba all drifting towards that area and the combination play on the edge of the box was superb. Add to that the factor that both full backs got high, allowing Gotze and Reus to move between the lines with Gundogan and Kuba meant they could support Lewandowski well from midfield and then press high when they lost possession.

Second half

Things didn't particularly change at the start of the second half; City were still moving the ball horizontally side to side in deep positions and generally unable to penetrate vertically, though they were looking for Dzeko more in the air.

The first main change from City came in the 57th minute, bringining on Kolarov for Nasri. It made some sense - they weren't getting any joy from their usual precise build up and having a more direct route was worth the risk. However the change to a 3-4-1-2 didn't really work. It allowed the full backs to pressure higher for Dortmund against the wing backs and defensively City looked very suspect with Dortmund able to continually test Joe Hart. In the 61st minute Reus followed the pressing trigger of Gundogan winning the ball high up the pitch and beating Joe Hart.

Mancini soon changed it back to a slightly lopsided 4-2-2-2 with Kolarov playing left wing and Zabaleta moving back to make a back four. However their transitions were still too slow, Dortmund were covering the space yet also playing with a high line to stop themselves from getting pushed too deep and ready to regain and counter attack from the middle of the field. Even when City went long, Dortmund were winning the second balls and playing out from the back well. City's only major threat was Aguero's mobility behind the Dortmund centre backs. It took a very generous penalty decision for City to break through.


Dortmund got their gameplan pretty much spot on. They kept their shape, made it impossible for City to find penetrating passes down the middle and created chance after chance in attack. They probably should have made the most of their chances but they dominated City right from the start. Mancini's side will have to improve their balance and intensity if they're to get through this group stage.

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