Mario Goezte Shines Against Shakhtar but Juergen Klopp's System the Key
The game was over by halftime as Juergen Klopp's side romped the first 45 minutes on the way to an emphatic victory, with much being made of Mario Goetze's impressive performance.
The 20-year-old playmaker was all over the pitch throughout the tie and deserves the recognition, but much of his performance stems from the brilliance of his manager.
Klopp, whose only previous managerial experience was with his beloved Mainz, is a tactical revolutionary who is rightly being courted by the biggest clubs in the world (via The Telegraph).
What we saw from Goetze, Marco Reus and Robert Lewandowski in terms of free-flowing movement is the norm—these three regularly interchange and cause confusion for the opposition.
But you never see the same game twice from Borussia Dortmund.
They feel the opponent out for the first 10 minutes, testing every area of the pitch; Reus drifts in from the left, Goetze joins Jakub Blaszczykowski on the right, Lukasz Piszczek bombs forward from full-back and Ilkay Gundogan gets his foot on the ball.
What they're doing is finding areas to work, and Klopp is blessed with plenty of players who can take on the fabled "playmaker" role.
Some managers, like Marcelo Bielsa, dislike the playmaker tag. They feel it's a burden for creativity, and if you place it on one individual your whole game rests on their shoulders.
This isn't exactly false, and players Juan Roman Riquelme represent proof of this fear—Villarreal had a bad game when he did, but when he was on form they were dominant.
So Klopp twists the idea and uses it to his advantage—after probing the opposition, the player who can find the hole becomes the playmaker.
It's pretty novel, it's pretty new and there aren't many with the squad to handle it.
When probing Shakhtar, it became apparent Fernandinho was having a bad game. The Brazilian, who is usually a standout star in an already accomplished team, struggled with the pace, tried to force passes that weren't on and failed to execute defensive responsibilities.
He found his touch in the second half, but that only encouraged him to surge forward more often and leaving gaping holes in behind. Fernandinho's parter in holding midfield, Tomas Hubschman, was no match for Dortmund's attacking three, and with the Brazilian out of position, Goetze was given the role of playmaker.
The German found himself in space on a number of occasions, so he and Reus enjoyed significant freedom down Dortmund's left side and used it to good effect.
Even Blaszczykowski came across from the right wing to score a goal following an Andriy Pyatov fumble in the Shakhtar goal.
Don't doubt it: Goetze is a phenomenal player. But Klopp deserves just as much credit for unshackling his team of superstars and finding the right recruits to fit into his rather different system.
You could face Dortmund five times in a week. In the first game Piszczek bombards you with crosses, the second Reus runs you ragged, the third Lewandowski nets a hat-trick, the fourth Goetze runs rings around you and the fifth Gundogan dictates the tempo and keeps you away from the ball.
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