Instead of discarding what worked well, Tuchel has added improved possession attacking and positional play to the side’s arsenal without diminishing their strengths. (For more on Tuchel’s “positional play” style of attacking, see this analysis from Tom Payne.) While Dortmund only drew with Hoffenheim on Wednesday, the club’s one goal exemplifies what Tuchel has added. With Hoffenheim trying to sit back and defend a precious one-goal lead, Dortmund strung together multiple passes, switching the point of attack and then finding a way through Hoffenheim’s back line for a Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang big chance.
These sorts of attacks, where Dortmund create chances from established deep possession, are new. I created a stat for chances off established possession, tracking attacking moves to see if a club completed four passes within the final 40 yards without passing the ball out of the attacking zone. Under Jurgen Klopp, Dortmund tended to be in the upper-middle of the pack in shots from established final 40 possession. Suddenly this year Dortmund are elite.
Published at the Washington Post.
What does it mean that pressing is a form of playmaking? A great pass creates a new attacking formation. It breaks up the other team’s defensive organization and forces them to respond to a new threat at a new angle. That moment where defensive organization has broken down is the moment when an attack is most dangerous. What Klopp suggests is that while a great passer can create such moments, a high press does the same. By winning the ball back in a dangerous area while the other team is still in its attacking shape, a high pressing team can start its attack with the opposition just as out of sync as they would after being cut open by a perfect pass from Luka Modric.