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Don’t expose yourself to Borussia Dortmund vs PSG if you appreciate the art of defending

What game will you be watching tonight?

Liverpool’s trip to the Wanda Metropolitano has its appeal although Atletico Madrid are not the daunting opponents they have been in previous years.

So why not tune into Borussia Dortmund vs PSG instead for what promises to be a festival of football?

A festival to which everyone is invited, except competent defenders.


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Is revenge on the cards?

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Is revenge on the cards?

Most are expecting a goal bonanza between the two teams on either side of the Thomas Tuchel derby.

Dortmund are averaging nearly three goals a game in the Bundesliga but only Hoffenheim have conceded more goals of all the teams in the top half.

Their title pursuit has been persistently undermined by kamikaze defending in crucial games.

Lucien Favre’s side drew 3-3 against bottom-of-the-league Paderborn, lost 4-3 to Bayer Leverkusen, and were thrashed 4-0 by Bayern in defining fixtures.

Keeper Roman Burki’s form has been a cause for concern while the adventurous full-back/wing-back pairing of Achraf Hakimi and Raphael Guerreiro often leave their centre-backs exposed.

For all the fire and flair of Jadon Sancho, Marco Reus, Erling Haaland, Thorgan Hazard and Julian Brandt, Dortmund have a soft, vulnerable underbelly.

Enter PSG.

Double trouble

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Double trouble

Even the most optimistic Dortmund fan will be worried about the Parisians’ multi-pronged threat.

With Neymar, Kylian Mbappe, Angel Di Maria, Mauro Icardi, Edinson Cavani, Julian Draxler and Pablo Sarabia to call upon, Tuchel has an arsenal capable of dismantling his former employers over two legs.

It will be interesting to see if the 46-year-old coach is brave enough to implement the 4-2-4 formation he has frequently deployed in Ligue 1.

Neymar and Di Maria have been used as wingers (in the loosest possible sense of the term) behind a front of two of Icardi and Mbappe in an ultra attacking set-up reminiscent of your first Football Manager save.

This star-studded front four have been a success domestically but Dortmund are considerably better than the average Ligue 1 side.

Silly numbers

AP:Associated Press
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Silly numbers

Tuchel’s most ambitious formation relies on Idrissa Gueye and Marco Verratti to do a lot of work in midfield in terms of recovering the ball.

He may feel he has to sacrifice one of his strikers (probably Icardi) in order to bolster the midfield, with Marquinhos, Ander Herrera or Leandro Paredes providing increased protection.

Even if Tuchel opts for a more conservative approach, both sides are likely to leave their front threes high in search of goals, daring the other to blink first and retreat.

In Thiago Silva and Mats Hummels, both teams have experienced centre-backs who were among the very best in their position globally at one point in their careers.

However, Silva is now 35 years old while 31-year-old Hummels has never been the most mobile.

Mbappe and Sancho in particular will seek to use their pace and directness to get at defensive lines impuissant against such a threat.

Idrissa Gueye will have to be at his brilliant best to deny Dortmund

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Idrissa Gueye will have to be at his brilliant best to deny Dortmund

Dortmund’s attitude can be distilled down to: we’ll just try score more than you.

Engaging Neymar, Mbappe and co in such a contest over two legs is an unenviable task, but not one beyond the entertaining German outfit.

Whatever the outcome, it promises to be a thrilling tie for neutrals — that should be enough of a jinx to ensure a 0-0.


NEXT: Barcelona’s goal kicks are a lovely reminder that football still has room to evolve

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