Borussia Dortmund continued their pre-season success story with a trip to Western Poland on Wednesday afternoon with a 3-0 win over Polish first-division side Slask Wroclaw.
Jurgen Klopp's team have enjoyed a rather easy time of it lately, with six wins from their first seven friendlies of the summer, and look strong ahead of their glamour tie with Premier League side Liverpool on Sunday.
With a number of players still away on extended leave, following gruelling World Cup campaigns, and a whole array of new stars in via the transfer window, Dortmund's coach has done well to mix things up in each game and really offer some different solutions to any problems presented by the opposition in any given game.
On Wednesday, Klopp continued in such a fashion with an irregular 4-4-2 formation. With Australian international Mitchell Langerak in goal, behind a back four of Lukasz Piszczek, Neven Subotic, Sokratis Papastathopoulos and Marcel Schmelzer we didn't see anything different from the defence, but once we moved into midfield things became a little more complicated.
Sebastian Kehl and Oliver Kirch were the only two clear central midfielders at kick off, while Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Jonas Hofmann played as the two conventional wingers in a flat midfield four. Leaving Ciro Immobile and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang as the attacking duo up front.
Yet what we actually saw through the match was Hofmann pushing up his wing almost to the point of a third forward, while Mkhitaryan and Aubameyang moved into the centre of the pitch and drifted out wide respectively. Although Klopp may have intended for his side to play as a 4-4-2, it very quickly reverted back to its usual 4-2-3-1.
This seemed to work perfectly, with two goals in the first half from Mkhitaryan and Immobile, both coming from some very neat attacking football that we've seen from Dortmund time and time again.
The Armenian's opening goal in the 10th minute came about through a well-worked one-two with a wide-playing Aubameyang, following a strong run from midfield from Mkhitaryan, which allowed him to calmly knock the ball past the goalkeeper.
Ten minutes later, the very same forward was at the heart of another goal, when he sent Immobile clear through on goal with a wonderful through ball. The Italian striker happily obliged and doubled Dortmund's lead just half way in to the first half.
Klopp will of course be more than encouraged with what he saw from Mkhitaryan on Wednesday. The record signing had a rather blase debut season last year and will undoubtedly be under some kind of pressure to up his game in the coming campaign. Yet such pressure or anxiety won't last long if we see more goals and assists like the ones we saw on Wednesday,
The second half saw an almost complete reshuffle of the team with a few notable introductions worth mentioning.
Despite Nuri Sahin's injury, Matthias Ginter was asked to play as a central defender rather than in midfield against the Polish side. Suggesting that Klopp may well be convinced that this young potential star will be a defender for Dortmund above all else.
We also saw an unexpected return for Jakub "Kuba" Błaszczykowski, following a long-term injury that near enough ruled him out for the whole of last season. Although the Polish international only came on for a few minutes, he would have been overjoyed with his return to the pitch amongst a standing ovation from both sets of fans.
Elsewhere, Adrian Ramos took Aubameyang's place up front and eventually found himself a goal late in the game. After cutting inside from the right, the Colombian forward made his signature darting run across the opposition box via a one-two with Hofmann, eventually finished the play with a tidy finish despite having two defenders hot on his heels. A composed goal and the mark of a true goalscorer.
On the day, Klopp will be happy that he saw glimpses of Mkihtaryan's brilliance and the continued evidence that a proper rest and pre-season could well do wonders for the Armenian's chemistry within the team.
Add to that two goals from two forwards who have only just walked into the team and you have a rather complete performance yet again from Dortmund, albeit against lowly opposition. As far as integration amongst the squad and the return to fitness of key players, fans and their passionate coach will be confident of what they've seen through pre-season.
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