In last month’s game, Borussia Monchengladbach demonstrated stability and solidity in central areas, as midfield pairing Xhanit Xhaka and Mahmoud Dahoud did a good job of keeping possession ticking over, while effectively containing and soaking up potential attacks, hence how 52.7 per cent of the ball remained in the central third of the field.
#BMGJuve, tactical talk
Heading into that match their manager Andre Schubert said that his side would play the high-pressing game that has yielded stunning results in the Bundesliga of late, yet the average positions of his team show that they rarely got out of their own half.
Testament to how difficult the Foals were to break down is that the Bianconeri often opted to try their luck from distance. In fact 14 out of their 22 attempts on goal were struck from outside the box, while nine of their efforts were blocked by a well-organised and resolute Borussia unit.
Nevertheless, they had enough touches and shots from within the penalty area (23 and 8 respectively) to have made it a more difficult evening for Yann Sommer than it ultimately was. The Gladbach goalkeeper was summoned on just two occasions across the 90 minutes as Juve’s lack of cutting edge on the night was underlined by their 11 efforts off target.
A noticeable feature of Borussia’s offensive play was how they opted to break forward along the flanks. In fact, only 23.2 per cent of their attacks came down the middle, in stark contrast to the 37.5 per cent on the right wing and 39.3 on the left.
Playing a 4-4-2 formation, Andre Schubert’s team profits from greater width than the 4-3-3 utilised by Massimiliano Allegri. While speed merchants Ibrahima Traore and Fabian Johnson like to get in behind their markers down the touchlines, they are well supported by full-backs Julian Korb and Oscar Wendt, who are willing runners from deep and both have found the net in recent weeks, the former scoring in the 3-1 win over Schalke and Wendt netting the opener in his side’s most recent Bundesliga outing, a comprehensive 4-1 victory away to Hertha Berlin.
If Borussia were accused of being overly-cautious in the goalless stalemate at Juventus Stadium, they have become a more adventurous attacking outfit with every game played so far under Schubert.
The manager was astute to immediately rectify the defensive frailties that saw them concede 16 goals in seven matches (in all competitions) before his appointment, reducing that rate to 8 strikes in nine fixtures since arriving at the Borussia-Park dugout.
Starting off by playing a clinical, counter-attacking style, his charges have evolved their game over the last three weeks to become more comfortable in possession, regularly controlling the majority of the ball ever since their 5-1 triumph away to Eintracht Frankfurt in mid-October.
The man pulling the strings at the centre of midfield remains captain Granit Xhaka, their greatest distributor against Juventus, spreading 61 passes to his team-mates on the evening.
He, like so many of the Foals, have supplemented their performances with goals. And the fact that 12 different players have found the net so far this season means that Allegri’s men will need to be on their toes to prevent danger coming potentially from all corners at Borussia-Park.