Erling Haaland has left for Manchester City; Edin Terzic has replaced Marco Rose as coach, and he has new signings Sebastien Haller, Niklas Süle, Karim Adeyemi, Anthony Modeste and more to play with. How will Borussia Dortmund line up this term?
How did Dortmund line up under Terzic last time?
Helpfully, Terzic was already Dortmund coach in the 2020/21 season, when he succeeded Lucien Favre in the dugout and steered Die Schwarzgelben to UEFA Champions League qualification and a DFB Cup final triumph over RB Leipzig.
Terzic tried to catch Bayern Munich out in the second Klassiker of that campaign in March by playing a 3-4-2-1 system - it backfired, with BVB losing 4-2 - but in every other league game the young coach played a 4-2-3-1 or similar, and it seems a fair guess that it's a formation he will implement once again.
He also utilised that system in the 1-0 win over Bayer Leverkusen on Matchday 1 of the new campaign.
Haaland was the focal point of the attack in 2020/21, and his first full Bundesliga campaign returned 27 goals from 27 starts. He was ably assisted by Jadon Sancho, who was creator-in-chief in the final third before his move to Manchester United that summer.
To his immense credit, Raphael Guerreiro only laid on one less goal than the Englishman from left-back (10 vs. 11), while nascent USMNT star Gio Reyna enjoyed his best season to date, contributing seven goals and eight assists in all competitions at the tender age of 18.
How did BVB line up under Rose last season?
Rose was as reactive as he was active in his team selections, playing a three-man defence in 10 of his 34 Bundesliga games, with most of the other games resembling a 4-3-3 or a 4-2-3-1. A midfield diamond was a common theme, especially earlier in the season.
Watch: Rose's BVB under the tactical microscope
An injury-free Marco Reus was a joy to behold, the club captain starting 29 Bundesliga games, his most in nine seasons at the club. He succeeded Sancho as the primary assister with 12 (as well as scoring nine goals), whether playing as a modern, pressing No.10 or lining up to one side of Haaland.
Jude Bellingham was the most-used player, meanwhile. Invariably part of a double pivot under Terzic - with any of Thomas Delaney, Axel Witsel or Emre Can for company - he was given greater license last term, and his goal-involvement climbed accordingly: one every 353 minutes in 2020/21 to one every 190 this just gone.
So what will be different under Terzic?
The first point of difference from Terzic's first spell as coach, and indeed Rose's last season, will be in terms of personnel. Whilst Dortmund will be disappointed to lose Haaland, they arguably had the most impressive transfer business of the summer.
Germany international centre-backs Niklas Süle and Nico Schlotterbeck were signed from Bayern and Freiburg respectively, while Sebastien Haller came in as the man to fill Haaland's boots on the back of a blistering 34 goals in 43 games for Ajax last season. That included 11 in eight Champions League outings, with two coming against BVB.
However, Haller is set to be sidelined for an undetermined period of time after a testicular tumor was detected during the club's training camp in Switzerland.
Terzic had to adapt his plans and he began with Youssoufa Moukoko, Donyell Malen and Adeyemi all in attack against Leverkusen on Matchday 1. BVB may have won that game, but the management decided an additional solution was also needed - hence the signing of Modeste.
"In our analysis of last season we made a conscious decision to bring in a more classic centre forward in order to give our attacking play a certain physicality, aerial threat and danger in front of goal," said sporting director Sebastian Kehl once Modeste's arrival was confirmed.
"In light of Sébastien Haller's illness we're pleased that in Anthony Modeste we were able to recruit such a striker at short notice for the coming season. He's an established player who knows the Bundesliga inside out. He scored 20 goals last season and his profile means he can fulfill exactly the role our head coach Edin Terzic envisions for our team."
While Modeste is set to lead the line for the time being, he is likely to be flanked by exciting youngster Adeyemi. The attacker plundered 23 goals for Salzburg last season, from a predominantly central striking position, adding greater pace and flexibility to the Borussia front line. Cologne's Salih Özcan is also a welcome addition in midfield, especially with Witsel leaving, meanwhile.
Özcan and Bellingham could function more like pistons than pivots, taking it in turns to join the attack, while a fit-again Reyna adds to an embarrassment of riches in the line behind a striker, with Reus, Julian Brandt and Thorgan Hazard also available to call upon.
Süle and Schlotterbeck could populate Germany's central defence for a generation, let alone Dortmund's. The former was in the 99th percentile for progressive passes in 2021/22; the latter in the same bracket for shot-creating actions.
Might there be a Plan B?
Terzic could have a magnificent alternative to his trusted 4-2-3-1 available to him. Modeste missed just two club games last season due to illness/injury, suggesting he is far more physically reliable than Haaland and will be a focal point to build around consistently this season in the absence of Haller. Should Modeste ever miss out, Malen also knows how to make a nuisance of himself up front, having recorded five league goals and three assists in 2021/22.
And then there's always Moukoko, although he is still refining his craft at 17 and is a different profile of forward anyway.
A fluid front three of say Adeyemi, Reus and Reyna could wreak havoc, though, and Haaland's new club Man City won the English Premier League last season without a recognised No.9. A 3-4-3 also unleashes Guerriero and likely Thomas Meunier on the opposite flank, allowing them to attack guilt-free. The return of Mateu Morey from a serious knee injury offers Dortmund another attacking alternative down the right flank from full-back.
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But where it could really come into its own is in defence, where Mats Hummels remains one of the best centre-backs in the world with the ball at his feet, but perhaps, at 33, no longer without it. With Süle and Schlotterbeck either side of him, he could find his range for that fluid front three, with about the best insurance policy possible for company.
Are Dortmund done with their summer shopping? In any case, they've already assembled a mighty squad that provides depth and variability that looks well equipped to give Bayern a run for their money in the Bundesliga next season.
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