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Bayern vs. Dortmund: Tactical Guide to the Champions League Final

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Bayern vs. Dortmund: Tactical Guide to the Champions League Final
Lars Baron/Getty Images

It has been decided: Bayern Munich will play Borussia Dortmund in the UEFA Champions League final at Wembley on May 25.

The all-German affair promises to be pretty tasty, and these two clubs know each other inside and out after contesting fiercely over the past three seasons.

Bayern, this season's Bundesliga champions, walk into this match favourites after defeating Barcelona 7-0 on aggregate in the semifinal, but it's arguable Dortmund have played the best football in the competition and will feel more than capable of claiming the trophy.

Here's a tactical preview pack for the final.

 

Possible lineups: Grosskreutz (19), Boateng (17), Bender (6) the doubts

Possible Formations, Starting XIs

Both Bayern and Dortmund will line up in a 4-2-3-1 formation. Expect two deep in midfield from both sides, in addition to one playmaker and one lone striker.

 

Mario Goetze

The big, big question marks heading into the final will linger over the fitness of Goetze.

Dortmund's playmaker-in-chief and (probable) best player limped off after just 13 minutes at the Santiago Bernabeu, clutching his hamstring and eventually leaving the stadium in tears.

He won't play another game this season unless it's the final, and if he misses out, Juergen Klopp has a problem.

Bayern and Dortmund have played out some incredibly tight games in recent years, and both teams' mercurial No. 10s can be the difference. For evidence, look no further than this season's meeting, where both Goetze and Toni Kroos scored in a 1-1 draw.

Kroos tore his hamstring against Juventus in the quarterfinal and will also be out, but Bayern's squad depth is phenomenal: Thomas Mueller has filled in adequately while Arjen Robben takes to the wings.

The likelihood of Ilkay Gundogan moving forward into in the No. 10 position is very low—at least until next season—so it looks set for Marco Reus to move central and Kevin Grosskreutz to take the left flank.

Grosskreutz is a real workman and former key player in Klopp's system, so the boss won't be worried about him coming in.

 

Fast Transitions

It's no secret that Dortmund like to move the ball quickly. Playing out from the back, Gundogan gets his foot on it at the earliest opportunity and plays a forward-thinking ball to the next line of midfield within seconds.

In true counterattacking fashion, Marco Reus often proves the catalyst in these circumstances, taking players on and committing them while threading balls through for Robert Lewandowski.

Goetze's presence will be missed, but solid decision-making and a holding of nerve in the final third could easily see BVB carve out two or three excellent opportunities within three or four passes.

Dortmund broke Real Madrid down with ease in their 4-1 victory, but a quick check on Bayern's last few matches will show incredible resiliency.

They stifled Barca and blocked nearly every ball into the final third, while Jupp Heynckes put hound dog Javi Martinez on the best dribbling player in the middle (Andres Iniesta) to stop mazy runs.

Will Dante and Co. be able to efficiently stifle a lightning-fast BVB attack?

 

Considerable Pressure

At the other end of the pitch, Dortmund proved at the Bernabeu that they can withstand torrents of attacks and pressure before finally snapping.

With Mats Hummels back to fitness and form and Dortmund's last line of defence looking as formidable as ever, Bayern will do well to find a way around it.

Mario Mandzukic and Mueller have formed an insane partnership and will look to target left-back Marcel Schmelzer, who is the weakest of BVB's four defenders.

Franck Ribery has enjoyed one of his finest-ever seasons, but on recent evidence it seems Robben is the one on fire. The Dutchman has enjoyed a late renaissance due to the injury sustained by Kroos, and he positively ripped Juventus and Barcelona to shreds.

He's proved capable of beating a deep three-man defence or a high two-man defence, and if he continues to score goals leading up the final, Klopp will be having headaches.

 

Shackling Gundogan

While Heynckes will be confident in his side's attacking ability, it'll serve as no surprise if he chooses to try and man-mark deep-lying playmaker Gundogan.

The German No. 8 has been superb in the UCL this season, and BVB struggled a little when Malaga's Manuel Pellegrini placed Duda on him to reduce his space and time on the ball.

A combination of Mueller, Kroos and Mandzukic marked Andrea Pirlo out of the game when Bayern beat Juventus, while Mario Gomez followed Sergio Busquets in the first leg against Barcelona.

Jose Mourinho failed to place a man on Gundogan at Signal Iduna Park and paid the price, so Mueller could well be playing a "suffoco" role in the No. 10 position.

 

Predictions?

The sides know each other so well it's tough to call, but we know the philosophies in place.

Both teams will vie for possession early, but BVB's most dangerous moments will come from slick three-pass moves between the lines. They won't play a high line and allow Bayern the chance to put it over the top, but they will probably risk sustaining periods of pressure.

 

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