How Edin Terzić’s fluid tactical system has turned Borussia Dortmund into serious Bundesliga title challengers – scout report
In his new era in Borussia Dortmund, Edin Terzić now is leading the Bundesliga alongside Bayern Munich and is ready to kick Chelsea out of the 16-round in the UFEA Champions League after a 1-0 lead at Signal Iduna Park.
The Black and Yellows with their 40-year-old coach are in superb form after the World Cup, striking nine wins out of nine including four clean sheets and scoring 23 goals with Sébastien Haller even returning after his battle with cancer.
Edin Terzić, the lifelong BVB fan, is highly regarded for his tactical knowledge and his ability to develop young players which is compatible with the club’s mindset and reputation toward the growth of rising stars alongside attempting to achieve sports success.
In the group stage of the Champions League this season, Edin Terzić gave Pep Guardiola two tough tactical games and required an acrobatic goal by former Dortmund player Erling Haaland at Etihad Stadium for Man City to win, thus this tactical analysis, in the form of a team scout report, will dive into Edin’s tactics with BVB.
Fluidity & individuals
First and foremost, all players can‘t be trained on all football styles and systems as the characteristics and features vary for every single player, hence the player may limit the system or the system suppresses the player’s freedom.
From here, we meet the dilemma of individuality and system, and the fluidity in football is almost a fair situation. Fundamentally, the individual’s quality often appears and improves through well-designed fluidity structures.
Dortmund live with Edin Terzić under the principles of individual abilities which are utilised in the fluidity of the system, operating the quality in its proper place within the structure which is not restricted and the players have the liberty to decide in many situations.
Clearly what makes Borussia Dortmund one of the best environments for developing young talents are mainly that the board believe in investing in youth, allowing young people to play at a high level without much pressure, and applying tactically fluid systems that allow them to be creative.
The fluidity and flexibility are provided much by the existence of players’ styles like Marco Reus, Julian Brandt and Jude Bellingham. Those roamers have the freedom and ability to execute various combinations between the lines.
Furthermore, the fluidity and freedom definitely support young stars such as the 19-year-old Jude Bellingham to improve. The below graphic shows his penetrating carries. The most-wanted midfielder has per game this season 49.67 passes (85.5% accuracy), 15.19 forward passes (79.1%) and 7.88 passes to the final third (80.3%).
Bellingham is excellent on the double pivot but is more relaxed, dynamic, fluid and with less defensive functions when pushing forward in an advanced role in front of Salih Özcan and Emre Can.
Edin Terzić seems to enjoy operating three or two roamers or floaters as no.10s while maintaining various players in front of the backline as the destroyer Emre Can and the deep-lying playmaker Özcan who also gives them stability on the transitions.
From the dynamic overloaded side, mostly right, to the other underloaded where Dortmund are more direct, straightforward and sharp to strike the opponent.
Over time Karim Adeyemi’s role became prominent with his incredible speed and agility. Bynoe-Gittens, Donyell Malen and Youssoufa Moukoko also play the role. Haller’s return has fed the forwardness with his aerial ability, playing as a target man up front.
The system supports individuals and flexibly adjusts itself based on their abilities.
Building to reach the goal
Dortmund with Terzic build-up by utilizing a 1-2-1 central base involving the goalkeeper Gregor Kobel who has a good distribution (20.12 short passes per game with 99% accuracy & 5.92 long passes with 65% accuracy) alongside both centre-backs to create the numerical superiority deeper on the first line, with the underrated Emre Can acting as the single pivot in front of them. Meanwhile, the fullbacks keep the width stretching the opposition.
BVB attempt to keep depth and width as much as they can to distort the opposition and have some variations and ideas to get out and break their high pressing schemes with a vertical mindset and try to reach the final third as soon as possible.
Dortmund usually desire to get out through the fullbacks like here in the below graphic, Bayer 04 Leverkusen press by a central triangle shape which produces less pressure on the wide areas and gives both FBs time and space to decide a direct build or drag the press and then circulate or switch the play.
As a variation, the roamers frequently drop off deeper to open an extra passing lane. Here, below, Brandt is dropping off to combine as a wall pass with Süle versus the tight-angled press from Chelsea.
Brandt drops to combine while the build-up
And then if there aren’t any available vertical progressive lanes, they repeatedly play a long ball to the target man in a space where roamers are ready to win the second ball.
Dortmund have a good orientation for the 2nd ball
In the progression phase, Edin Terzic utilises the fluid principle “Salida Lavolpiana” which is a variation that means a midfielder drops to create a back-three and the team starts a positional motion.
Emre Can drops in the backline
Emre Can usually drops between the centre-backs who move wide and then the FBs overlap. Meanwhile, the roamers exist between the lines or fly freely behind the opposition’s backline, the motion which makes a clean penetration through 3-2-5 or 3-1-6.
This variation gives the centre-backs room to step up widely, overload the flank and get involved in passing combinations. Furthermore, the 3-1/3-2 rest defence shape is giving the centre-backs proactivity in the defensive transitions.
Here, after Emre Can had dropped, Süle has the roam to carry the ball forward, overloading the right side while Wolf is overlapping. From the interior corridor, Brandt is ready to receive in between lines, and Haller and Adeyemi are ready to attack the spaces behind.
Süle carries the ball forward overloading the flank
In this aspect, BVB have one of the best centre-backs at progressing the ball. Schlotterbeck has 6.24 progressive passes per game (average is 3.43) and 1.63 progressive carries per game, the average is 0.65.
The centre-backs desire to play laser vertical passes breaking the opposition’s lines with fluid movements from the no.10s higher or even dropping to open a lane.
Primarily after receiving the ball behind the opposition’s midfield by the roamers, Dortmund like to utilise one-touch, one-twos, and third-man combinations.
Here against Chelsea, Bellingham fluidly dropped off to receive and then finds Brandt in between the lines who lays it off to Özcan. After that, Özcan will find Wolf free on the right flank overlapping, meanwhile, Haller and Adeyemi are pinning the backline.
Bellingham dropped then finds Brandt i/b lines
Diversely, the centre-backs play direct above the opposition’s block with counter-movements from Borussia’s attackers to confuse the backline. At the same time, Karim Adeyemi is ready to attack the spaces behind the backline as he did against City in the below scene. The latter received the pass as the third man yet missed it later.
Adeyemi is recognizing the space in behind waiting for Süle’s long pass
Generally, against City, Süle (the right back) was the target of long balls to beat the press which is in support of diversity using the tools through the structure based on their abilities, but the plan could have been adjusted if Haller was the striker.
Commonly, once Terzić’s team reach the final third, the players keep in mind the same principles of dynamics and fluidity. They attack the box by the largest number while the overlapping FBs are ready to deliver crosses from wide areas.
As mentioned about Bellingham’s progressive runs, the opponents’ defenders become more vulnerable when facing these deep movements because of the existence of the strikers like Haller in the box.
Their second goal against Bayer 04 Leverkusen illustrates that BVB overloaded the left side which left Marius Wolf, who maintains the width on the weak side, free. Bellingham switches the play, succeeds in reaching him and then attacks the box with a vertical deep run with also other’s sudden different deep movements maximizing the chance which produced the goal.
Bellingham is switching the play
Dortmund’s players are moving vertically, overloading the far-post
Dortmund have the second-highest goal-scoring actions per game (3.5) in Bundesliga. Bayern is the first with 4.82. Furthermore, 1.95 xG per game in 2020/21 becomes 1.98 this season. The below graphic displays Dortmund’s xG this season.
Switching the focus onto Dortmund’s approach out of possession, Dortmund with Edin Terzić seem to utilise a 4-5-1 & 4-1-4-1 mid-block structure most of the time, with compactness, minimising gaps between the lines, and waiting for any pressing triggers to move higher up the pitch.
Both games against Man City illustrated how they can defend the space and close the gaps through a passive 4-5-1 defensive block which made Man City unable to create chances much of the time.
4-5-1 Mid-block defensive structure
Dortmund usually use 4-2-3-1 & 4-1-4-1 shapes when pressing high to regain possession in dangerous areas to counter. In the below graphic, they have achieved this season 227 high regains while Bayern Munich have 329 high regains.
Their defensive approach is highlighted by the defensive territory below. The bulk of their defensive actions is concentrated centrally.
Not only for his brilliant save against Chelsea recently but Emre Can, defensively this season, makes a difference and offers a significant impact with Salih Özcan.
Generally, the backline becomes faster and more flexible when Süle and Schlotterbeck play together as centre-backs. Mats Hummels’ lack of pace is hurting them.
Deep down, Dortmund have a superb shot-stopper Gregor Kobel in goal, who has a 76.8% save percentage this season in the Bundesliga, and a 48.1% clean sheet percentage.
Accordingly, Edin Terzić always aims at the vertical axis more than the horizontal one. Furthermore, Dortmund hugely seek to exploit one of their weapons which is the attacking transitions.
Transition is the weapon
Football is about space and how to exploit it. Counterattacks are strong weapons which require quick reactions and high speed. Generally, the phases in football are interconnected, teams’ defensive organisation and structure influence the transition from defence to attack.
Dortmund are transitioning with the intent to reach the goal as soon as possible, not to restart the circulation of the ball. Attacking to take advantage at the moment when the opposition’s disorganised defence increases space and options in proper situations.
The full-speed counter-attacks when the team has options and space are significant to maximise the chance. Dortmund have the players to accomplish this from the intelligent players with quick decision-making to control difficult moments and speed response, to the speedy ones like Karim Adeyemi who attack space as quickly as possible.
Adeyemi scored against Chelsea from a tight counterattack at the Signal Iduna Park, running from deep. Edin Terzić began his post-game admiration of Adeyemi’s goal highlighting the 21-year-old’s speed. “Meep Meep”, the Serb said.
The Black and Yellows are in the attacking transition phase after regaining possession and wish to attack the space between the half-spaces. Here, below, while the ball carrier scanned the situation, dribbled diagonally and sought to release in the decisive moment, four teammates are running into different spaces supporting him and confusing the defenders.
When you win, football becomes easier, yet first, you have to make football easy to win. This analysis illustrates the tactical approach of Edin Terzić in BVB to make Dortmund title challengers once more.
Dortmund this year with Edin Terzić have a great run both tactically and mentally, and it is predicted that BVB will stay in the competition until the end of the season as long as Bayern Munich continue to lose points.
Through time, we will know whether Dortmund are able to win the Bundesliga after a decade of Bayern’s domination or not.