The win against Paris Saint-Germain was built on luck and judgement

The Athletic

In this example, Adeyemi’s positioning means Dortmund’s left-back, Ian Maatsen, can focus on defending Ousmane Dembele in the half-space, with Can ready to support.
Once Hakimi plays the ball to Dembele… … Can moves up and dispossesses the France winger, stopping PSG’s attack.
In this next example, Adeyemi is sitting deeper than the rest of Dortmund’s midfield, so he can drop and defend against Hakimi as Maatsen focuses on Dembele.
Marquinhos plays the ball wide to start the attacking sequence… … but the overloads Luis Enrique’s side want to create out wide aren’t possible due to Adeyemi’s defensive positioning.
Back on PSG’s right, Zaire-Emery goes wide to Hakimi… … but the right-back’s cross gets cleared by Sancho, who beats Mendes to the ball.
For all of Dortmund’s impressive defensive display in the first hour, they were helped by the erratic nature of PSG’s final passes.
It was telling that, when that aspect of their game improved, they played through Dortmund’s block on three occasions.
Still, Dortmund were focused on protecting the wide areas, with Reus dropping to support Maatsen against Hakimi and Dembele.


Football games are sometimes framed in black and white: the winners did it right, and the losers couldn’t handle the pressure.

However, the truth is typically in the middle: a single error here or a shot that goes past the post and stays in the game, which are instances that have the power to alter the course and momentum of the match.

The majority of the time, the 90 minutes or more that are spent on the field are a shade of grey. Borussia Dortmund’s 1-0 victory on the road against Paris Saint-Germain on Tuesday, which advanced them to the Champions League final 2-0 on aggregate, was the ideal illustration of this.

Investigate further.

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Dortmund managed to keep a clean sheet, thanks in part to their strong defensive play in the first half and their valiant box defending in the second. But, PSG had four shots on goal that evening and had numerous opportunities to score in the second half.

PSG was determined to tie the game from the very beginning. To create a 3-2-5 formation in possession, they pushed their full-backs, Nuno Mendes and Achraf Hakimi, forward and Fabian Ruiz dropped deeper.

The goal of Luis Enrique’s team was to exploit overloads in wide areas to get past Dortmund’s defense, but in the first half, it was difficult to penetrate the Bundesliga team’s ball-less organization.

The wingers for Dortmund, Jadon Sancho and Karim Adeyemi, frequently dropped to assist their full-backs, forming a situational back five, in order to counter the five players that PSG had in the attacking line.

Adeyemi or Sancho retreated when PSG attempted to get their widest players on the field, and Emre Can changed positions to keep the home team from finding more blue shirts in between the lines.

Adeyemi’s placement in this instance allows Ian Maatsen, Dortmund’s left back, to concentrate on stopping Ousmane Dembele in the half-space, while Can is prepared to assist.

After Hakimi passes Dembele the ball…

Can advances and takes the France winger’s possession, putting an end to PSG’s attack.

The next instance shows Adeyemi sitting deeper in the Dortmund midfield than the rest in order to defend against Hakimi while Maatsen concentrates on Dembele.

To initiate the attacking phase, Marquinhos plays the ball wide.

Nevertheless, Adeyemi’s defensive positioning prevents Luis Enrique’s team from creating the overloads they want out wide. Can drops to assist Dortmund’s left side while Hakimi passes to Dembele in the meantime.

who, with Maatsen obstructing the passing lane, is unable to play the return ball to his right-back.

Because of his defensive position, Can was also able to follow Warren Zaire-Emery’s forward surges into open space when Maatsen and Adeyemi were extended wide.

Dortmund was defending their right flank, and Sancho dropped to form a back five in a similar situation on the opposite side of the field. The England winger’s defensive position freed up Julian Ryerson, his right-back, to concentrate entirely on Kylian Mbappe.

Early in the second half, when Dortmund had taken the lead and doubled their advantage overall, was when Sancho and Adeyemi’s contributions to this defensive effort were most evident.

While Sancho is poised to score on the opposite side of the pitch, Adeyemi’s deep positioning enables Maatsen to guard the half-space against Dembele.

Thus, Ryerson can focus on handling Mbappe.

Zaire-Emery wide passes to Hakimi back on PSG’s right.

However, Sancho beats Mendes to the ball and clears the right-back’s cross.

The haphazard nature of PSG’s last passes aided Dortmund’s strong defensive effort throughout the first hour. It was significant that they three times went through Dortmund’s block once that area of their game improved.

The combination of Hakimi and Dembele in the first example locates Vitinha’s untracked run behind Can.

… before Goncalo Ramos, the midfielder for Portugal, squares the ball and misses the mark with his shot.

After three minutes, Marcel Sabitzer stays in his assigned position as Dembele’s overload down the PSG left allows them to link up and find Mendes in space after the left-back had sped past Marco Reus.

Then, Mendes cuts back to Ramos, but he misses the mark once more.

PSG’s right combination resulted in the third scenario. Reus, Maatsen, and Can are monitoring Dembele, Hakimi, and Zaire-Emery in this instance, but Dortmund’s shape is compromised by the trio’s passing combination.

Eventually, after Reus turned his attention to the ball, he locates Dembele in space.

Then, Mats Hummels makes an attempt to stop Dembele, the old boy of Dortmund, but all he can do is foul him close to the penalty area.

With Sancho replaced by Niklas Sule and Julian Brandt dropping to the right of midfield in a 5-4-1 shape when out of possession, Dortmund coach Edin Terzic switched to a true back five following those attacks.

Dortmund nevertheless prioritized defending the wide areas, with Reus dropping to back Maatsen up against Dembele and Hakimi.

In the final 15 minutes of the game, PSG’s full-backs pushed forward in addition to Lee Kang-in, who replaced Zaire-Emery, and Ruiz, who was replaced by Marco Asensio just after the hour. This increased PSG’s attacking pressure.

After all, Dortmund had to put on a defensive show of their hardest, with the ball striking the woodwork four times and PSG missing several opportunities, all in an effort to preserve their one-goal lead and make it to the Champions League final for the third time in the team’s history.

Terzic remarked, “We are aware that we probably wouldn’t have won ten times if we had played this game today.”. At this level, the little things really make the difference, and in these two games, we were able to turn the little things to our advantage. ”.

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