Preview: Borussia Dortmund – FC Bayern

Dortmund a top team? Numbers and feelings

The yardstick, the assessment of one’s position, the maturity test – Borussia Dortmund has always been given all these labels in recent years when the top match against FC Bayern was up for grabs. This season this applies to both teams. Where is this Bundesliga season heading? BVB can take a big step. Author: Justin • Translator: Dennis

In Dortmund, fans, managers and players these days are largely trying to play down the importance of the encounter with the German champions. They don’t want to take on the role of favourites at all, and they are also refraining from declaring hostilities towards Munich. It is a quiet game.

BVB has learned from the past. Big words and ambitions were often crushed quickly. The balance of the last years speaks clearly for the Reds. But now it smells like a change. This hope was also expressed last year. At that time Dortmund had started the season outstandingly under Peter Bosz. However, it was clear to many that that kind of football would not go well for long. And so Dortmund suffered a 1:3 defeat against FC Bayern.

One year later the signs are different. The FCB continued to deteriorate and in Dortmund the balance between defensive and offensive was found. Favre’s team plays more maturely, more deliberately, more efficiently in addition, somewhat luckier. Of course, you need a certain amount of luck if you want to overthrow the big FC Bayern. But this Dusel is hard earned.

Is Dortmund a top team?

The fact that the BVB even wins the narrow games in which it does not achieve its best performance is part of a process. Many of the squad’s players have matured in recent years. There have also been a few young players who can play without worries. The transfers of Witsel, Delaney and Alcácer give the team the experience and stability it needed.

In addition, the clever fox Lucien Favre came to Dortmund. On many levels. His external image calms the environment enormously, his tactical skills provide a framework in which the young players find support on the one hand, but also do not lose their carefreeness and freedom on the other.

This complete package led BVB to the top of the Bundesliga in a very mature first phase of the season and to impressive successes in the Champions League. And yet there are still doubts as to whether Borussia can really overthrow FC Bayern this season. Is this team already so stable that it can hold the results for a whole season? Are they already a top team?

The numbers say no!

Looking at the various statistics, it is at least questionable whether the BVB is already taking the big leap. With 19.4 expected points, the Dortmunders are currently only in third place in the Understat table – behind Leipzig (19.54) and Bayern (22.25). In addition, with 12.27 expected goals, they are about five goals behind the team from Munich (7.26). However, the difference in the expected goals is particularly significant.

BVB scored 30 goals this season, more than any other. However, Expected Goals shows a value of 19.93 and thus the largest difference of all Bundesliga clubs to reality (-10.07). Only Eintracht Frankfurt (-6.61) shows a similar discrepancy.

Already in the last Bundesliga and cup games it became apparent that the BVB gets enormous problems, if it does not make a goal out of every shot. The short-term absence of Paco Alcácer and his regression to the mean will force Favre to create more chances in the offensive again. Otherwise, the big coup in the league could be a difficult one.

The feeling says maybe!

But often such figures do not have the strongest significance. They serve as a background for theses and as a tool to illustrate an analysis. The subjective feeling alone tells observers of this BVB that it is not just a strong overperformance this season that makes them so dangerous. It’s a feeling that a young, hungry and damn fast team paired with some experienced players will grow there.

Besides talents like Sancho, Pulisic, Diallo or Hakimi there are professionals like Reus, Witsel, Delaney and other more experienced players who can lead these guys. Marco Reus in particular has taken a few steps forward in his body language and demeanour, giving an otherwise wild offensive structure.

Favre is a coach who has always been able to break the laws of expected goals. The strong mix of the squad, the development of the footballing style and the fact that the BVB has also won difficult games so far – something is growing that could quickly become dangerous for an ageing Bayern team. Perhaps faster than they would like.

Read on page 2 what makes the BVB strong from a tactical perspective and where there might be weaknesses.

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