Borussia Dortmund - Scouting Report


This report is written as an opposition report that would be used to analyses opponents before playing them. The decision on what information would be given to players during the time before a game would decide on various factors, such as: learner type, player personality & if their game needs to be adapted a little in order to either prevent the potential opposition taking advantage of aspects of the players game or ways of which our players can exploit the weaknesses of the opposition.

Due to the amount of injuries Dortmund have, this is going to be a full report without taking into consideration the injuries of Hummels, Schmelzer & Subotic - not what team they are going to use vs Bayern, that is probably going to be:
Weidenfeller; Großkreutz, Friedrich, Sokratis, Durm; Bender, Sahin; Blaszczykowski -[with Aubemeyang coming on], Mkhitaryan, Reus; Lewandowski.

For more information on some of the things in this report, I will be doing an article on phases 1-4 in the near future & here is my new method I am using:

You can also contact me via the contact form on the right, or on twitter [@martinlewis94] if you have any other questions.

Offensive team dynamics

Initial information

Dortmund are a club built on the image of their manager, Klopp. He is a manager that preaches quick, transitional, & emotional football. A big part of their success over the last few season has been down to their counter pressing - which is aggressive & collective pressing in defensive transitions [what they do after losing possession] - and ability to kill teams in transition with counter attacks [4 offensive players + an overlapping fullback].

Regarding their fantastic transitions, here is a video of them training - using a drill which would be used for positional training [defensively] & transitions [offensive & defensive] through wide areas [front 4 offensive players + 1 fullback in counter attacks].


Offensive Organisation
The key objectives and mentality of the team is the play as fast and direct as possible - creating a high amount of chances to shoot. This is reflected on their statistics this season, with an average of 21 shots per game.

Phase 1:
Varied initial build up, both short and long. Will play long if it's not possible to play short - don't force short option. Idea of the team is to draw opposition away from their goal [creating big spaces between lines] then play into high positions [passes through lines, to Lewandowski's head/chest/feet & diagonals into depth]. They will then look to progress from there, either though winning second ball or counter pressing and counter attacking. In this phase, build up is a slower tempo - with quick changes in rhythm and attitude in high areas.

Short build up shape:

Long build up - from goalkeeper:

The amount of long passes played, especially from the centre backs, is also shown in the teams statistics - with the majority of their passes either long or forward.
LB = Average amount of long balls per game

Phase 2:
Phase two is usually a consequence of either going back from 3rd phase or if initial counter attack isn't on when ball is won in higher areas. This is because they find verticality from long balls from centre backs early, meaning phase 2 is often skipped. Both fullbacks high [but only 1 will over lap/run into depth at a time] and midfield triangle/diamond with Mkhitaryan and Reus joining Sahin and Bender.
Progression from centre backs when possible - Sahin drops in between or in fullback position to create 3v2 overload.

Phase 3:
Phase 3 usually consequence of long ball from 1st phase [second ball + opposition lines open after pressing] with space to run with ball. This phase is the initiation of the increase in rhythm of the team, with quick, direct and aggressive actions. Most of their play will be orientated around the right hand side dynamic [see differences between Aubemeyang & Blaszczykowski below phase 4] and will also look to create with rotation of player positions & overloads. Dangerous underlapping from fullbacks [usually Großkreutz] that can be used to attack half spaces.

Phase 4:
Most 4th phase actions are usually either after a counter attack or cross. Main danger is Lewandowski movement in the box and playing off second balls from Lewandowski in the box. In crossing positions [both fullbacks in position to sustain attack] he will often make diagonal run to the second post. Other players [Reus/Mkhitaryan/Blaszczykowski] will support from deeper, or delayed runs to the first post [to get second ball if Lewandowski attack 2nd post] allowing Lewandowski the option to attack the 1st post space if possible [runs in front of 'keeper] or the 2nd post.

Difference between Aubemeyang & Blaszczykowski on the right hand side:

Aubemeyang is more of a final 3rd player, with more action in the final areas of the pitch. He will make inside second striker movements & use his mobility to break lines and stretch the opponent vertically. Defensive transitions and organisation in this position is weak. Blaszczykowski different, more of a deeper 3rd midfielder that can stretch teams laterally, as well as making inside movements between lines to receive to feet, rather than into space like Aubemeyang. This [stretching opponents laterally] allows Großkreutz to under lap & exploit half spaces - where as with Aubemeyang, Großkreutz would be the one stretching opposition laterally & Aubemeyang attacking half spaces early. This is reflected in their statistics.

Defensive Organisation
The key objectives and mentality of the team in this aspect is to use zonal marking, with aggressive pressing [1v1 capacity] when an opposition player is going to receive the ball in their zone. With zonal marking, running off players [especially into half spaces] can expose them [e.g vs Bayern]. When defending in higher areas; if the team is close enough to the ball & in positions to block passing lanes, they will press high. If not, they will remain in their zones and wait for triggers.

Last season, Klopp spoke about not pressing all of the time:
"I have learned a statistic. Teams that run too much lose, and teams that press reduce their chances of winning the game. Now I know why it happened. We ran more than our opponents and we pressed them all over, as high as possible." -

Phase 1 [medium - high block 442]:
If the team are high initially [high block], they will look to press the ball [clever pressing by blocking passing lanes before moving towards the ball] - if not they will allow the opposition to move into 2nd phase. If pressing is triggered, they will continue press to also force the goalkeeper.

Phase 2 [medium block 4411]:
Objective of the team is to force opponents into wide areas, then move across to regain possession with lower passing options [180 degrees, compared to 360 degrees in the middle of the pitch] which means a lot of their possession will be gained in wide areas. This is reflected in their statistics.

Pressing trap:

High amount of ball Dortmund recover from the wide areas - forcing teams wide to recover the ball.

Phase 3 [low block 4411]:
Tighter and narrower lines [horizontally and vertically] with bigger spaces on the outside. Look to force opposition back to 2nd phase using their aggressive pressing [1v1 capacity] when the opposition player receives the ball in their zone.

Exploiting half spaces:

Also a high number of interceptions in wide areas to recover the ball.
Phase 4 [ultra low block 441]:
Both centre backs cover fullbacks [half spaces created] with the pullback cross often blocked. When a centre back is pulled out, he will be compensated by a midfielder [usually Bender] dropping back to take him place - but this often leaves the chance for 1st post crosses [with the striker making runs in front of the midfield player covering the wide centre back].

High amount of clearances - playing long for Lewandowski to try and counter attack from deep positions.

Difference when Hummels plays next to Subotic and Sokratis:

With Sokratis stepping out more and playing higher up, Hummels has more of a covering role compared to when he plays next to Subotic.

Sokratis playing high up

Hummels over the right hand side of the pitch more often with Sokratis

Hummels spending less instances over the right hand side with Subotic

Subotic playing in deeper areas.

Offensive Transitions
Offensive transitions are seen as the main tool of creation for Dortmund - with Klopp preaching transitions as the best way to play [attacking the opposition when their disorganised, rather than when their organised]. Will always counter attack with front 4 + 1 fullback - delayed support from central midfielders - have capacity to bring Aubemeyang on from bench to give higher threat in transitions [stretches teams vertically with amazing mobility].

Phase 1:
Usually after winning the ball from counter pressing or interception, look to counter attack straight away - with front 4 + 1 fullback [overlapping or underlapping]. Support from deep [central midfielders] if counter attack is delayed.

Phase 2:
Usually offensive transitions from second phase will come from wider areas & the ball will be progressed through a fullback [front 4 + 1 fullback - see training video for example] with a high amount of interceptions in wide areas [see defensive organisation phase 3 & 4 for stats].

Phase 3:
Different mentality in deeper areas, look for early ball [in any form] to Lewandowski 1st time - unless short option to one of the 3 players playing behind him are open & in space to run with the ball.

Phase 4:
Initial objective is to clear the ball, rather than play it out of defence. Will look to play clearance long [down the middle] to give Lewandowski the chance to win the first ball & hold it up for support.

Defensive Transitions
The key objectives and mentality of the team after losing the ball is to counter press [if possible] to regain the ball as soon as possible to then counter attack the opposition.

Phase 1:
Team very unbalanced and vulnerable if possession is lost in phase 1. Fullbacks are in line with the central midfielders, leaving space either side of the centre backs to exploit with counter attacks.

Phase 2:
Put pressure on the ball [if possible] but more focused on regaining balance and organisation. The team is also unbalanced in this phase, as their fullbacks are high and will often only have 3 players [both centre backs and Sahin/Bender] behind the ball - leaving space to exploit in wide areas.

Phase 3:
Look to counter press - or at least delay - while the rest of the team regain organisation.

Phase 4:
Look to counter press & will continue pressure on the goalkeeper [trying to force opposition to go long or give the ball away. Team very unbalanced if the ball is played over the offensive players - often left with low numbers behind the ball.

Set Plays
Team height [tall squad]:

Offensive Corners:

Defensive Corners:

Offensive Free Kicks:

Defensive Free Kicks:

Kickoff combination:


  1. ajax amsterdam scouting report please

    1. Currently I'm doing a report, like this, on one Premier League team a week for If I can get video of some of the Ajax games, I'll look to do one on them later on in the season. Thanks for the comment.

  2. is all well and good when you have loads of time. What happens when you need to turn the report around in 3-5 days without the aid of video? There is a real art to watching a game, doing diagrams for phases of play, set pieces etc at the game then going home and producing a report in less than 12 hours,,,,,,That's the true art and skill in doing a 'live' match report.

  3. Very helpful suggestions that help in the optimizing topic,Thanks for your sharing.



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