Borussia Dortmund vs. Bayern Munich: Matching formations? Not necessarily.

Lars Baron

With Mario Götze out and Bayern Munich possessing two of the best central midfielders in the world, Jürgen Klopp might alter his formation slightly to match up with the Bavarians in the middle.

This is the tenth clash between these two sides in the past three years - their constant appearances against each other in Cup finals underpinning their recent dominance of Germany - and so each side should be familiar with the other's strategy.

Bayern Munich's formation and selection for the final is obvious. Jupp Heynckes will continue with the same 4-2-3-1 that has been so successful both in the league and Europe this season. The shape and feel of Bayern has been rather familiar for a few years now, with two midfielders sitting in front of the back four, inverted wingers on both flanks and a playmaker drifting in behind a lone striker.

They'll have more possession than Dortmund, bring the full-backs high up the pitch and build attacks from the back, but are also capable of playing reactively, sitting back in two banks of four before springing forward quickly on the break.

The absence of Toni Kroos has exaggerated this directness, as it means Thomas Muller, a playmaker who operates in more advanced positions, shifts into the centre, and Arjen Robben coming into the side on the right flank, playing high up the pitch and cutting inside near the penalty area towards goal.

Jürgen Klopp's side are, broadly speaking, a counter-attacking side. That term is associated with negativity but in the case of Borussia Dortmund the opposite applies - they are very positive without the ball and press high up the pitch, with the entire eleven squeezing inside the opposition half.

Although they like to create attacks through sheer speed, Dortmund are not exclusively counter-attacking - as they have become more and more of a known threat, they have become more and more complete attackers, capable of holding the ball for long periods and attacking through short, probing spells of possession. The emergence of Ilkay Gundogan as an able replacement for Nuri Sahin has been important. The German is an excellent distributor of the ball, able to spread the ball calmly or trigger counter-attacks with quick forward passes.

In terms of formations, Klopp's side is predictable. He prefers a standard 4-2-3-1 which sometimes appears 4-4-2, with Robert Lewandowski dropping back alongside the central playmaker to help defend, and the wide players also diligently tracking back so that the entire side remains compact.

But in recent fixtures against Bayern, Klopp has altered his side's shape accordingly, bringing one of his versatile wingers - either Jakub Blaszczykowski or Kevin Grosskreutz - into the centre of midfield to create a 4-3-3 formation. Theoretically, this is to disrupt Bayern's technical quality in the centre, but his side have looked significantly shakier within it; they don't press with the same intensity, and the midfielders tend to leave too much space between themselves and the back four, as Toni Kroos exposed so ruthlessly in their clash back in December 2012. Most crucially, though, it robs Dortmund of some of their counter-attacking potential - which, Dortmund will be more reliant on than ever in the absence of Mario Gotze.

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