Bayern Dortmund Pokal 2015 preview

Head to head stats: Dortmund’s improved defense

Our statistic preview takes a fresh look at opponents Borussia Dortmund, and finds a defense that has made some substantial progress.

With FC Bayern set to battle Borussia Dortmund yet again, we have put together a new statistical analysis of our opponents. As a general matter, Dortmund’s relatively poor season has a lot to do with poor finishing.

We discussed this in a previous stat-shot a few weeks ago: both FC Bayern and BVB are near the league leaders in possession, passing accuracy, and on-target shots. Die Roten, however, are runaway league leaders in goals scored, while Die Schwarzgelben are a mediocre scoring team despite generally good offensive and passing numbers.

These factors still hold true, and will be in play tomorrow. But for this game, we can also analyze a different aspect of Dortmund’s season: their recent turnaround, and the specifics behind it. While this year will never go down in Dortmund history as a masterpiece, it is worth noting that they have made serious improvements over the last three months.

Over the winter break, Klopp’s side were in the relegation zone and facing a supporter mutiny. Now, in late April, they have climbed the table with several decisive wins, stand some chance at a possible Europa League spot, and could even make their season into something of a success with a Pokal championship.

Dortmund’s tale of two seasons

For whatever reason, Dortmund’s season turned around in the first week of February. On February 4, they lost another disappointing match: a 1:0 defeat, at home, to FC Augsburg. Three days later, on the road, Dortmund bounced back with an emphatic 3:0 beating of SC Freiburg (and went on a long undefeated streak). So that is as good a moment as any to split the BVB season into “before” and “after” sections.

A look at some stats, along those lines – these are all domestic matches, Bundesliga and Pokal, but not including Champions League action:

Category Dortmund through Feb. 4 Dortmund Feb. 7 and later
Matches played 21 13
Goals scored 24 27
Goals allowed 28 10

A rather stark difference. Obviously Dortmund caught some tough-luck losses in the first half, but giving up that many goals to teams with inferior talent cannot be written off entirely as a fluke. While both the offense and defense have improved in the more recent period, the strongest progress has taken place on the defensive end.

No more allowing easy goals

Some deeper digging reveals how serious Dortmund’s defensive improvement has been. These are JUST Dortmund numbers from February 7 and later, a total of 13 matches – and again, domestic (league and cup) play only:

Category Dortmund Feb. 7 and later
Shots faced 99 (7.61 per match)
Goals scored 7 (53.84 % chance for each opponent
Goals allowed by opposing forwards 4 (0.307 per match)

So nearly 54% of the time, Dortmund has come away with a clean sheet in their recent run. Aside from their ugly CL loss to Juventus, Dortmund have really had one bad defensive match in the last eleven weeks: a 3:1 loss to ‘Gladbach that had a bit of bad luck to it (Oscar Wendt scored in the opening minutes after a fortunate rebound). Even the 1:0 loss to Bayern saw BVB defend well, limit open space in their defensive area, and clamp down on Bayern’s forwards.

That last statistic is possibly the most important one. The 10 goals allowed over this stretch are pretty low overall, but the number allowed by opposing forwards is especially good. Only four times in the last 13 domestic matches have Dortmund let a forward beat them (this includes, for purposes of this discussion, strikers and forward-wings in a 4-3-3, but not “attacking midfielders” or wingbacks).

This means that, in general, opponents are going to threaten Dortmund only by committing forces to the attack and bringing their midfielders and fullbacks into the picture. BVB have cut down on the bone-headed blunders that allowed them to get counter-punched with two quick passes in the first half.

Of course, Bayern did beat Dortmund three weeks ago, and it was a Lewandowski goal that did it (one of the four forward goals they’ve given up in their recent stretch). So there is no reason to think their defense is an impregnable fortress.

One thing is clear, though: Dortmund have tightened up some of their holes at the back, and it will take a concerted effort from our entire team to break them down. Thanks for reading.

[pl_label type=”inverse”]Post editor: Michel[/pl_label]

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