Borussia Dortmund controlled long periods of the game against Arsenal last night and a large part of that was down to Jurgen Klopp’s men keeping key Gunner Mesut Ozil quiet for the majority of the match.
Several teams would have been scratching their heads trying to figure out the best way to keep the German from having any influence for Arsenal and Dortmund showed a couple of tricks which sides can definitely learn from in the coming weeks.
Firstly, Dortmund kept the ball well with 57.6% of possession during the game. If Arsenal don’t have the ball, Ozil can’t be influential in terms of finding assists and creating chances for his teammates.
Their midfielders covered each other well, ensuring there was always a simple pass on, allowing them to move the ball quickly and easily between the various sections of the team.
One interesting tactic Dortmund used well was to funnel Ozil, effectively pushing him wider to the flanks where he’s easier to contain and where he’s much less influential.
The German side were quite happy to let him pass the ball in wide areas because he was playing simple, short passes which weren’t hurting Borussia Dortmund. He completed 48 out of the 56 passes he attempted but the majority were short, simple balls.
Interestingly, when Ozil was confined to the right flank, he attempted only four crosses in the whole match only one of which was successful.
The effect that had was that it made Ozil attempt more ambitious, longer passes when he found himself in central areas in Borussia Dortmund’s half of the field. On five different occasions, Ozil tried long, killer passes in Dortmund’s half which resulted in a turnover of possession.
In total he created just four chances for his teammates throughout the game which is a far smaller number than many other sides have experienced so far this season.
Dortmund also used the traditional tactic of doubling up when Ozil found himself in rare pockets of space centrally.
They closed him down well and used each other to cut off his angles so he couldn’t play a slick pass to release the pressure on the Gunners, setting up potentially dangerous counter attacks.
When Ozil didn’t have a pass on, he was forced to try and take on the player or players pressing him, losing possession twice in Arsenal’s half and once just inside Borussia Dortmund’s half of the pitch.
So the lessons from Borussia Dortmund are simple; stop Ozil from dominating centrally, cut off his angles and force him to attempt passes that he’s not normally comfortable playing.
What did you make of Ozil’s performance last night?
image: © ronmacphotos