Remember when Dortmund started the year with a bunch of injuries but still managed to keep a clean sheet for over a month? Yeah, me too. But those days seem like a dream of the past now as Dortmund has gone winless through its last five Bundesliga matches and its entire UEFA Champions League slate.
It’s seems the Dutch dynamo Peter Bosz has seen his run of form and well of luck run dry. All these losses have come in frustrating fashion, as Bosz has simply failed to rearrange his lineup in a more suitable fashion for his squad. But telling a Dutchman to stray-away from the 4-3-3 is like telling the Golden State Warriors to stop shooting threes.
But there’s an alternative — one I proposed before the season started featuring “he who shall not be named” and Erik Durm — that could work and provide a way out of this current funk. Bosz could take a page out of Louis van Gaal’s book and adapt a 3-5-2/5-3-2 (however you see it) formation.
While the formation might seem jumbled and confusing, it’s actually a flex between Bosz’s traditional 4-3-3 and a more conventional 5-3-2 with more moving parts. The formation offers several different looks for a Dortmund team struggling to produce offense and faltering at keeping opponents in check.
First, with three center-backs in the fold, this formation provides some defensive stability in a lineup that otherwise lacks such a concept. With Omer Toprak and Sokratis firmly planted at the back and Marc Bartra acting more as a sweeper, the defense adds a bit of flare and ferocity to its talented foundation.
Jeremy Toljan acts as the fourth defender at right-back. Toljan’s primary responsibility would be to drop back into a defensive posture. His attack-minded mentality will allow him to distribute balls up the wing for midfielders to run onto and start a counter. On the other flank, Raphael Guerreiro is a no-brainer at left-back. However, Guerreiro’s first instinct would be to push the play up the left side. If needed, he could drop back into defense to reinforce the back line. But if he gets caught up field, Bartra would slide over to mark the left wing.
In the midfield, Julian Weigl would take on the normal duties of a defensive midfielder. In turn, Christian Pulisic would move off the wing and into the center where he could have more room to roam. Pulisic could move toward the wing if needed, but would mainly find his way to the top of the penalty area behind the forwards. The third midfielder would be Andriy Yarmolenko. Normally a winger, Yarmolenko would spread out on the right side with room to run down the sideline or along the right side of the box.
Up front, Max Philipp would take the roll of a secondary striker along the left side of the box and left wing. His presence in a more central posture would augment the scoring production by providing a second option inside as well as freeing up space for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Auba would be the main striker in the formation. Alongside Philipp, Aubameyang would have the freedom to roam throughout the front of Dortmund’s formation.
The lineup, though complex, would allow Dortmund’s top talents to be on the field at the same time. Until playmaker Marco Reus returns to the lineup, Dortmund has the ability to experiment tactically to find a way out of its slump.