When Shinji Kagawa rejoined Borussia Dortmund over the summer transfer window, there was a serious question as to how Jurgen Klopp would use is former attacking talisman in conjunction with Marco Reus and Henrik Mkhitaryan. For much of the season that question has been moot as injuries of varying types to all three players have kept one or more unavailable to Jurgen Klopp. That is no longer the case.
In the last two weeks with all three options available Borussia Dortmund's attack has turned into something truly fearsome with Marco Reus on the left, Shinji Kagawa in the middle, and Henrik Mkhitaryan on the right. However, their exact positions in this setup have been incredibly flexible as they have proved a dynamic attacking force. While much is made of their recent disastrous run of domestic form, one only has to look to their performances in Europe to see a side capable of completely dominating games.
Borussia Dortmund ranks third in the Bundelsiga in shots per game, only 0.7 shots per game behind Bayern Munich. This is also an attack that to this point has registered just 10 goals, sitting side by side with a Werder Bremen attack that might be the worst ever conceived by modern man. There is going to be regression - the only question is when, not if.
What Dortmund has struggled the most with recently is breaking down intensely organized defensive sides. The likes of Hamburg, Hannover and Köln, all sides who have recently defeated Borussia Dortmund, have all earned plaudits this season for their defensive organization skills. But what of the likes of Bayern Munich? For Bayern Munich, and Pep Guardiola teams in general, the main defensive impetus comes not from the structure but from the ability to win the ball back with high pressure within 1 or 2 passes. That's a defensive schema that works on pressing quickly and committing the necessary numbers at the critical point.
However, that skill is directly opposed by this Borussia Dortmund attacking midfield. Highly dynamic and built on interchanging pieces (though not to the same degree as Bayern Munich), they have long used that ability to bypass opposition midfields and presses with quick technical transition play before launching the counterattack. This ability is their hallmark and this years's Borussia Dortmund attack might be one of the best we've seen yet.
With a Bayern Munich defensive structure composed solely of three centerbacks, there's no way Bayern Munich can play this match comfortably on defense. Playing a high line and restricting space leaves vast amounts of room for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to exploit if Dortmund choose to adopt route one football (even given Manuel Neuer's sweeping ability). On the flip side, dropping the defensive line deep give's Dortmund space and time to overload individual zones which is a death knell for a side playing a 3-man backline.
With Xabi Alonso sitting in defensive midfield, the ability to defend in holding midfield against the counterattack is virtually non-existent. It's all on the shoulders of the centerbacks. The Bayern Munich defense will have to adapt their play depending on the situation at hand from minute to minute. It's going to have a be a fast and dynamic game from a set of players (excluding Jerome Boateng) that haven't really show that to be a skill they have in spades. It's certainly within their capability, but if they have the discipline to employ it for 90 minutes is the looming question.