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BVB defeat Austria 1-0 in first game of the pre-season

Borussia Dortmund v Manchester City - 2016 International Championship Cup China Photo by Lintao Zhang/Getty Images

Borussia Dortmund have won their first friendly of the pre-season against Austria Wien in Vienna with a 1-0 scoreline. Alexander Isak scored the only goal of the day after an impressive run from Christian Pulisic to set up an easy tap-in.

It was a typical friendly, the line-ups were completely changed for both halves and featured a lot of young players from BVBII to fill out the roster while some players are still on holidays.

The most interesting part of the game was seeing Lucien Favre’s tactical plan in action for the first time. BVB lined up in a 4-4-2 formation that was somewhat rigid on defense but very fluid on offense.

Whenever the Austria had possession, Dortmund fell back and left no room for the Austrians to attack. In front of a four man backline there was another line of four players that completely shut down the center of the pitch essentially pushing every attack from their opponents to the outside. This meant that Austria either had to take low-percentage shots from outside the box or try to get through to the touchline and cross it in. However BVB’s fullbacks were mostly able to shut their opposing wingers down during this game. Wien’s only real chances came on the counter attack whenever Dortmund made a mistake during build-up play.

On offense the formation was much more fluid. The wingers and fullback moved up the pitch and whenever BVB had possession one of the central midfielders would fall back between the centerbacks to help with the build-up play. Dortmund mostly tried to dismantle their opponent with quick combinations until they could isolate one of their pacy wingers who in turn tried to take advantage with their match-ups in one-on-one situations.

This was an impressive showing after just five days of training with Favre, Dortmund showed a lot of good signs, both on offense and defense. Naturally things will still change, especially when the squad will be at full strength but it was a solid first step.

Other takeaways from the game:

  1. Does BVB really need a striker? I know it’s just the first game but with this set-up in a 4-4-2 this formation seems ideal for both Reus and Philipp to play as BVB’s main strikers going forward. Isak also showed a strong performance and should get more chances to show himself during the pre-season. On the other hand a pure centre forward could give Favre obviously more room to make some changes if he needs to.
  2. BVB’s fullbacks need to produce. Again this was just the first game but if Dortmund continue to try to push their opponents to the outside while shutting down the middle of the pitch, the fullbacks will get into a lot of one-on-one situations with opposing wingers. Today they were able to shut them down but it will be more difficult once the competition gets better.
  3. The youngsters were great today. Pulisic, Isak, Sancho and Gomez impressed with some good runs, their pace and technical abilities. In addition both Götze (in the first half) and Sahin (in the second half) controlled BVB’s play with smart decisions and good passes in midfield.