Dortmund 2-0 Bremen: routine win for leaders

December 13, 2010

The starting line-ups

Dortmund weren’t at their best, but were still relatively comfortable.

Jurgen Klopp selected an unchanged side, and with the exception of the absent Kevin Grosskreutz, this is the XI he has favoured so far this season.

Thomas Schaaf made two changes. Claudio Pizarro in for Hugo Almeida was enforced because of suspension, whilst Philipp Bargfrede came in for Felix Kroos.

It was a basic 4-2-3-1 v 4-2-3-1 battle, with the usual match-ups all over the pitch.

There were differences in how the shapes operated, however. There was more fluidity to Bremen when they got the ball, as the three players behind Claudio Pizarro interchanged and looked lively, whilst Dortmund were more structured, though Mario Gotze made some good runs inside from his wide-left role into central playmaking positions.

It was notable that Bremen’s two holding midfielders played slightly to the right-of-centre. They alternated positions throughout but tended to be skewed towards that side of the pitch – maybe natural, since Clemens Fritz is really a right-back – and probably quite useful, since Shinji Kagawa drifts to left-sided roles.

However, it meant that they were slightly vulnerable in their left-back position, especially with Marin not offering particularly good protection, and tending to wander slightly from his left-sided brief.

Petri Pasanen had to cover a lot of ground and Bremen were clearly undermanned on that side of the pitch, most notably when Pasanen was caught high up and Jakub Blaszczykowski had thirty yards of space to break into. Pasanen looked uncomfortable throughout the first half and gave away two free-kicks in quick succession – the second was expertly chipped into the net by Nuri Sahin.

Difference in pressing

The starkest difference between the sides was their attitude without the ball. Dortmund didn’t press relentlessly, but did so on occasion which forced Bremen into poor passes from their defence. Bremen dropped back when they lost the ball, with Pizarro and Hunt in their own half of the pitch, making Bremen into a 4-2-4-0. At 1-0, Dortmund were relatively happy to keep the ball in non-threatening positions.

The situation changed in the second half when Schaaf instructed his side to press higher up the pitch, and whilst they weren’t pressing as a unit, it did make them a better side and they saw more of the ball in the final third.

Pizarro’s hold-up play in the first half had been good, but in the second he wasted two good chances – first a heavy touch took the ball into the warms of Roman Weidenfeller when he was one-on-one, then he took the ball around the goalkeeper and tried to win a penalty when he could have stayed on his feet.

Bremen threatened when Hunt and Marin came inside, combined and used Pizarro as the focal point for one-twos, but didn’t get breaks inside the box.

Dortmund rounded off the win when Kagawa popped up unmarked at the back stick to volley home a cross that may have taken a touch off substitute Robert Lewandowski on the way in. From then on, Dortmund were safe.


An understated performance from Dortmund who ground out a result rather than powered their way past Bremen. The main difference between the sides was pressing in specific terms, and organisation and cohesiveness as a whole. Dortmund defended better as a unit and got men forward into the box, whereas Bremen looked, at different points, lopsided and then disjointed.

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