Tactics Journal

by Kyle Boas

Analyzing football tactics

PSG protecting the left for each long ball from Borussia Dortmund

Luis Enrique in a post-match press conference explaining how PSG prepared to defend the long ball against Borussia Dortmund:

A player like Füllkrug, a very tall player and powerful to play long ball to. We have tried to protect ourselves on [our left] and allow a two-v-one against Bradley Barcola to be in position for each long ball. To have either our winger or our interior with the possibility of helping. To defend those long balls.

Dortmund is a very well-worked team. It has those two options. If you don’t pressure them well, they are capable of outplaying you. If you pressure them well, they play a long ball.

Figure 1.1 - Nuno Mendes stays back with Lucas Hernandez and Marquinhos, allowing Achraf Hakimi to push forward which forces Ousmane Dembélé to invert.
Figure 2.1 - Nuno Mendes will always stay back. He leaves Bradley Barcola two-v-one on the left-wing.

Even though they conceded the one goal from a long ball, a bit of poor organization with their back-line to keep Füllkrug onside, I think was a solid plan to defend against the counter, to not leave themselves vulnerable.

Nuno Mendes always stays back, that’s what Luis Enrique is referring to when he says that they left Bradley Barcola two-v-one. Mendes will never help Barcola because he stays back in the rest defense with defenders Lucas Hernández and Marquinhos.

I prefer Dembélé when he stays on the touchline. Hakimi wasn’t as effective one-v-one when he received facing play against Adeyemi and Maatsen. Mendes can’t get forward because PSG wanted Hakimi forward on the right-wing, to allow Dembélé to invert.

Figure 3.1 - Ousmane Dembélé follows Emre Can as PSG counter-press.
Figure 4.1 - Ousmane Dembélé follows Emre Can in the middle third, allowing Bradley Barcola and Kylian Mbappe to press the back two.
Figure 5.1 - PSG's rest defense in defensive transition.
Figure 6.1 - Ousmane Dembélé tracking back with the midfield to block off the pass to Emre Can.

PSG wanted Dembélé to invert because they wanted him to man-mark Dortmund’s holding midfielder, Emre Can, or provide an added option in defensive transition if one of the “interiors” midfielders got further forward, like Warren Zaire-Emery, for example.

That was a lot of responsibility to place on Ousmane Dembélé. If he drops his attention, the space in front of PSG’s second line is fairly open, as the midfield are preoccupied following their markers back into their own half.

Match: Borussia Dortmund 1-0 PSG, 1 May 2024

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