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Mitigating Borussia Dortmund's press will be the main key for Bayern Munich

Bayern Munich has some backline selection issues and those will be key in determing how they mitigate the Borussia Dortmund gegenpress

Adam Pretty/Getty Images

The last time Bayern Munich squared off against Borussia Dortmund, the men in yellow and black controlled the game exquisitely taking an early lead before they lost the game late as Robert Lewandowski equalized and then an 84th minute penalty sealed their fate.  It was a tense game for Bayern Munich and a game where the team played sharp attentive football but were outdone by the gegenpress of a Dortmund team ready for a fight for much of the match.

The gegenpress is the hallmark of Borussia Dortmund and it's been a style that they've struggled to bring to every match this season as chronic injury issues have forced them to play sub-par lineups and make tactical compromises. That won't be the case tomorrow though. With a fully fit attacking corps at their disposal Jurgen Klopp was the ability to select any pressing options he needs. High-energy and in your face? Kevin Kampl and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang are his men. Disciplined and tactical? There aren't many better options than Jakub Blazczykowski and Henrik Mkhitaryan. Rounding out that slate of the slate of players are Shinji Kagawa and Marco Reus who fit both bills and who both have been astounding for Dortmund when they've faced off against Bayern Munich over the seasons.

Barring some disastrous individual defensive collapses from Dortmund (which they've shown they're more then capable of this season) mitigating the gegenpress is going to be the key to Bayern Munich winning and maintaining their lead at the top of the Bundesliga. The key to that is overloading their 3-man press with targets and to that end a 3-man backline and dual wingbacks would do the tactical trick. But that choice comes with a cost in that Bayern Munich have to sacrifice midfield edge against a powerful double pivot in Ilkay Gundogan and Sven Bender.

In ideal circumstances, Guardiola would just plug David Alaba into the backline and allow him tor roam forward into the midfield, providing a man advantage in both defense and possession. With the Austrian international out for what is likely to be the remainder of the season and Philipp Lahm just returning from injury himself, it seems likely that Bayern Munich will be unable to run that type of strategy in this match. Opting to use that same strategy with Rafinha in the right-sided centerback role might be viable in this match, but given the way Marco Reus tends to operate in space, I'm not entirely comfortable with that selection. Couple all of this with Holger Badstuber's fitness concerns and Bayern Munich have just three available centerbacks in Jerome Boateng, Medhi Benatia, and Dante.

With just three centerbacks available, that speaks to a 4-man backline from Bayern Munich as Guardiola will likely be loathe to risk his entire remaining core from the outset. Add in Dortmunds' reversion to a single striker system and Bayern Munich can get away with a 4-man backline against the 3-man gegenpress of Dortmund. It won't be pretty and Dortmund will generate their fair share of dangerous chances in this type of matchup but if Bayern Munich can beat that initial press they'll overload the midfield duo of Bender and Gundogan with their own 3/4 man midfield and they'll be off to the races.

That matchup along the backline of Bayern Munich with the gegenpress of Dortmund and how each utilizes the space available to them is going to be the defining feature of this match. That is unless Klopp or Guardiola decide to come out throwing tactical curveballs. Given that both coaches are dogmatic in their adherence to their preferred overall tactical strategies a change that drastic won't be a likely occurrence. But if there ever was a time where Jurgen Klopp needed to pull a rabbit out of a hat, this would be it.

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