Stöger's Tactics - and how he's got it all wrong

The game against RB Leipzig was yesterday. And despite the mixed bag of reviews of the game, as many thought that Batshuayi should have put us 2-1 up, we were also heavily outshot 11 to 4, with 3 of their 11 shots falling on frame, while half of ours were on goal. While this seems to be a running theme of being heavily out-shot throughout the duration of every match under Stöger, we managed to score a higher xG rating than RB Leipzig over the weekend (1.04 to 1.66). The problem of this statistic is that 0.92 of our 1.66 xG score was Batshuayi's miss. That highlights the flaws of Stöger and the lack of chances created and taken during each match. I admire the fact that Stöger has made our defense so much more formidable compared to the completely idiotic tenure under Peter Bosz (I distinctly remember playing a half field offside trap against Real Madrid. It takes talent to be that dumb and naïve.) But when going forward the offense has no identity other than relying on Marco Reus, Mario Götze, and Co. to make miracles, magic, and mistakes happen. Stöger has never had an offensive game plan, something encapsulated at his time at Köln, where he relied on an energetic midfield press with unskilled players to force counters and scrape enough wins together to survive season after season. Last season was sheer over accomplishment, relying on the genius of former Dortmund starlet Miloš Jojić and German international Jonas Hector to pull them into the Europa League places.

I want to start this analyzation by looking formation used by looking at the average position of the squad throughout the game provided by WhoScored. (Sorry for the links guys. I didn't know how to embed it any other way.)

Tactics VS RB Leipzig

Looking at this, Reus and Bats were basically on the same spot, showing me Reus’s willingness to make runs off of Bats’s positioning. But what concerns me is that Götze is right off of the shoulder of Bats, telling me that when our CMs had the ball, they would rather find the pass to Reus or Bats than to Götze, at which point, if I were Stöger, would have dropped Götze deeper to the other side of Weigl and insisted on Bats’s staying infront of their back line, instead of Bats choosing to drop deeper into the midfield to help the buildup play. Also, when concerning our players, Pisczcek lacks the necessary pace that he used to have to cover the entire length of that right side, something that happens when Reus drifts around that front 3. By dropping Götze aside Pisczcek, it provides Pisczcek more cover when going forward, while also giving our midfield more 1) space to dribble into and 2) numbers in defense. Those types of adjustments made Tuchel such a great manager during his time at Dortmund, but its these adjustments that we lack that would truly allow us to finish off a team like RB Leipzig.

Adjustments That Should Have Been Made

Something that also differentiates the tactical genius of Tuchel versus the reliance on relative coincidence of Stöger is Tuchel's occasional willingness to pull out a set play. One that I recall quite specifically is where Schmelzer would make an overlapping run around the left winger, and a ball would be played over the top of their back line to Schmelzer, who in turn played the ball across to Aubamayang at around the 6 yard line. This is shown with this depiction:

Dortmund Under Tuchel

Through a series of ball movement and positioning, a ball would be played over the top to Schmelle at the edge of the box, either by one of the CMs or by Bartra, and a square ball would be played for an easy rip on net. I cannot find any active footage of this happening, but I distinctly remember an attempt of this happening at least once a game, and it resulting in a goal once maybe once out of every three times. When the team that contains the creativity that our squad has cannot find enough breakthroughs on goal, it is up to the manager to create these opportunities through the occasional set play or tactical adjustments. Stöger has shown the prowess to handle neither of these. The most he knows how to do is make like for like substitutions for attacking players with slightly different skill sets who can offer something slightly different going forward. Also, he has shown that he can play 5 in the back- Whenever there are 5-10 minutes left, we keep dropping further into our own half, and do not show any confidence whatsoever in defending our one goal lead that we currently hold.

Dont get me wrong, I like what he's done for our back line and midfield. It's lightyears ahead of whatever that heretic Bosz was preaching, by just simplifying everything. Glad it took Watzke so long that the manager of an Ajax side that got slaughtered defensively by a very conservative Manchester United side under Jose Mourinho was the wrong fit to lead a Dortmund side that already had several defensive issues under Tuchel, and he just made the back line that much worse. But there needs to be more ingenuity going forward. And Stöger has to create that ingenuity, and stop relying on miracles, magic, and mistakes created by our players on the field, players who at times, look completely out of ideas and frustrated at the lack of a game plan going forward.