Manchester City 2-1 Borussia Dortmund: A tactical analysis of the game

Borussia Dortmund and Manchester City players battle for the ball (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
Borussia Dortmund and Manchester City players battle for the ball (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images) /
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Out of Possession

Dortmund started off in a 4-5-1 shape off the ball, which allowed them to be compact in the midfield and cover a lot of ground horizontally to stop City playing through the lines. With Haaland up top on his own, this meant the Man City centre-backs had a lot of time on the ball as they had a 3v1 numerical advantage.

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Borussia Dortmund did however switch at times to a 4-4-2, with Haaland and Reus trying to mark and press Rodri and Cancelo, who was at times playing as an inverted full back. This allowed Dortmund to stop City building through the central players but it did leave them somewhat exposed out wide.

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Borussia Dortmund were vulnerable to the counter attack due to the high positioning of their full backs, and Man City exploited this for their first goal. Mahmoud Dahoud was beaten way too easily after Emre Can had inexplicably given the ball away. A Manchester City player would have committed a tactical foul in this scenario, but Dahoud chose to let de Bruyne run past him. And the Dortmund defence never really recovered, with both full-backs very high up the pitch.

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Borussia Dortmund continued in the 4-5-1 formation and were very compact between the lines to stop City from playing between the lines.

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For the Man City winner, they took advantage of Gio Reyna not helping Thomas Meunier by tracking his man. While Thomas Meunier’s poor positioning made it way too easy for Ilkay Gundogan and Phil Foden to score past Marwin Hitz and give City a vital lead going into the second leg.

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dark. Next. Talking Points from Borussia Dortmund's defeat to Manchester City

Edin Terzic’s game plan worked really well for the large parts of the game, Borussia Dortmund were once again let down by individual errors. While Manchester City dominated possession, the Black and Yellows looked like they always had things under control. But all City needed were two careless moments from the Dortmund defence, and they took full advantage to take a 2-1 lead going into the second leg.