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DFB Pokal Final: Bayern Munich vs. Borussia Dortmund | 3 tactical keys to the match

Three tactical keys to containing Borussia Dortmund, and clinching the domestic double.

Dennis Grombkowski

Racked with injury and squad instability, Borussia Dortmund has had an up and down season. At one point, their entire first choice defense was unavailable. Oh, and Bayern Munich annihilated them for it. But as the defense righted itself and returned to health, Borussia Dortmund was able to reassert it's high press high tempo style of football over smaller sides. Oh, and then they annihilated Bayern Munich. Each team has learned their lessons about each other this season, and Saturday brings all that learning to a head as they clash at the Oympiastadion.

Tactical Key #1: Containing Marco Reus

After the departure of Mario Götze last year, the main creative mantle for Borussia Dortmund has fallen on the shoulders of Marco Reus. The German international is capable of playing both on the wing and behind the striker. Last season, he was clearly better on the wing, but this year has really excelled in his transition to the center. He still maintains a predominate left sided bias which Borussia Dortmund exploited fantastic results in their April 3-0 win over Bayern Munich.

Reus' partnership with new addition Henrikh Mhitaryan has blossomed and in the defeat of Bayern Munich the two interchanged at will putting enormous pressure Rafinha and on Philipp Lahm to contain them in attack. In the April loss Bayern Munich struggled mightily with this task for the entire 90 minutes of that loss. Addressing the danger the pose will be a key battle for Bayern Munich. Given that Rafinha has fallen out of favor on the right side of defense in lieu to the far superior Philipp Lahm, while Javi Martinez, the vastly superior defensive option in holding midfield. The actions of the two of them are going to the keys to containing Reus and winning this match. If Jurgen Klopp deploys Henrikh Mkhitaryan on the left as he did last time against Bayern Munich, that task from both of them becomes all the harder and all the more key to winning the domestic double for Bayern Munich.

Tactical Key #2: Pinning back the deep lying playmaker

Borussia Dortmund are incredibly reliant on their deep-lying playmaker. Last year so much of their dominance was the direct cause of the incredibly quality, and the sheer difficulty, oppositions had in containing Ilkay Gundogan. With his continued absence with injury, the mantle has fallen on Nuri Sahin and new addition Milos Jojic (who has been nothing short of fabolous since his move from Partizan in the winter). Both of them are critical for the Borussia Dortmund attack.

As Bayern Munich did in their November win, pinning back the deep lying playmaker is going to be key to stopping Borussia Dortmund's attack before it can even start. While in the November match, die Roten used long balls to vertically stretch the game, that component of their game has been almost completely abandoned. In addition, the absences of Bastian Schweinsteiger and Frank Ribery all but guarantee Thomas Müller will start in the middle of the park. With his pace and pressing ability, Bayern Munich should be primarily concerned with Müller looking to contain Sahin or Jojic as much as possible denying the deep-lying playmaker from influencing the match.

Tactical Key #3: Challenging Mats Hummels

For all the flak, Mats Hummels gets for his highly visible blunders, he's one of the very best centerbacks in the Bundesliga (I'd argue that one of the most identical counterparts is David Luiz) and is a phenomenal talent in building possession and attacks from the back. Mario Mandzukic has to be on his a-game, pressing wise, to deny Hummels the time and space he needs to facilitate the Borussia Dortmund attack from deep.


Bayern Munich can't go into this match content to play their brand of football and not respond to the threats of Jurgen Klopp's side. Their ability to absorb pressure plays perfectly into dismantling possession based sides that commit large numbers of men to attack. While Bayern Munich should not hesitate to try to impose their style of football on the match, they have to proactively break the key threats Borussia Dortmund poses in the match, or their chances at the domestic double are going to evaporate like water in a desert.

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