In Erling Haaland, Marco Reus, Gio Reyna and Donyell Malen, Borussia Dortmund look formidable in the final third with or without Jadon Sancho. - © DFL
In Erling Haaland, Marco Reus, Gio Reyna and Donyell Malen, Borussia Dortmund look formidable in the final third with or without Jadon Sancho. - © DFL

How will Borussia Dortmund line up post-Jadon Sancho?


It has been a busy summer at Borussia Dortmund. Jadon Sancho has left for Manchester United, but Erling Haaland is still around, joined by former Salzburg manager Marco Rose and, latterly, Donyell Malen. How will BVB look in 2021/22?

Sancho leaves a significant gap to fill, returning to his native England with 50 goals and 64 assists in 137 games in all competitions for BVB under his belt.

Watch: How Sancho and Haaland combined

New coach Rose still has plenty of attacking talent to play with, though. Haaland plundered his 41 goals in just 41 games last term, and he has been joined in the final third by Malen, who enjoyed 27 goals and 10 assists for PSV Eindhoven. "I told him to give me a lot of assists," the big Norwegian said of his new teammate.

With 15 players laying on 57 Bundesliga provisions last term - under first Lucien Favre and then Edin Terzic - Haaland can be optimistic of Malen keeping up that side of his game, and with most of the same players from last season still at the Signal Iduna Park for this, how Dortmund played in 2021/22 is a good place to start in predicting how they'll look under Rose.

Dortmund's players are already used to a 4-2-3-1 formation having used it in 96 percent of their games last season. - DFL

Terzic - who remains on Dortmund's staff despite reported interest from elsewhere - replaced Favre last December following a 5-1 loss to VfB Stuttgart. The Swiss tactician had experimented with a 3-4-2-1 that day, but Terzic quickly reinstituted a 4-2-3-1 system, using it in all but one of his games as he steered Die Schwarzgelben to a third-placed finish, winning 63 percent of his contests.

Haaland and Sancho were cornerstones in the final third, and they were invariably joined by captain Marco Reus and young American Gio Reyna, who has since inherited Sancho's No.7 jersey. Whilst they were both effective, the third-most attacking returns in the team actually came from left-back Raphael Guerreiro, who had a hand in 15 goals in 27 games with the most license to get forward of any of the back four.

Belgium midfielder Axel Witsel ruptured his Achilles' tendon in January's 3-1 win at RB Leipzig. - RONNY HARTMANN/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

A ruptured Achilles' tendon injury sustained by Axel Witsel in January meant that central midfield proved the most turbulent position in an otherwise settle formation, with no fewer than six players - Witsel, Jude Bellingham, Mahmoud Dahoud, Thomas Delaney, Julian Brandt and Emre Can - variously occupying the double pivot in front of the back four in the Rückrunde.

Behind them, Marwin Hitz replaced Swiss compatriot Roman Bürki as the first-choice goalkeeper, and concluded the season with a far superior clean sheet percentage than the outgoing No.1 (44 percent set against 22).

Marco Rose used a 4-2-3-1 with Gladbach, in which Lars Stindl shone. - DFL

Borussia Mönchengladbach were similarly set up under Rose last season. Like Terzic's Dortmund, they used a 4-2-3-1 the vast majority of the time, only deviating from it in seven of their 34 Bundesliga games - one of which was a 4-2 win over BVB on Matchday 18.

Marcus Thuram opened the scoring that day, but the player who came closest to matching Haaland's season haul of 27 in the league was actually Foals' captain Lars Stindl, who bagged 14 and laid on eight more from the same No.10 position Reus leads Dortmund from.

Watch: Rose's Gladbach under the tactical microscope

Christoph Kramer, or sometimes Denis Zakaria, alongside Florian Neuhaus, provide a unique double pivot, meanwhile. Kramer brought the grit to Neuhaus's grace, which meant Gladbach don't necessarily have to change their shape depending on whether or not they had possession.

The set-up was underpinned by a centre-back pairing of Matthias Ginter and Nico Elvedi, the former a first-choice for Germany, the latter the owner of the league's highest pass completion at 93 percent, and behind them there was little doubt about the No.1, Yann Sommer the owner of 66 Switzerland caps compared to Bürki's nine and Hitz's two…

Donyell Malen and Gregor Kobel should slot straight into Borussia Dortmund's first XI - DFL

So, what will that mean for Dortmund under Rose? Formation-wise, the fit is obvious, players and coach both familiar with it if not with each other at first. Rose does at least know Haaland from their time together at Red Bull Salzburg, and the Norwegian's status as a world-class striker, even at the age of 21, is already secure.

Haaland won't have to do it all on his own, though, at least if Stindl's form under Rose is anything to go by. A 5'11" attacker who might have had more Germany caps if not for injury; only just the wrong side of 30 with plenty still to give; a Borussia captain who plays at No.10? The parallels between Stindl and Reus could scarcely be more pronounced.

Wide of Reus and behind Haaland, Dortmund are spoilt for choice. As well as Reyna and Malen, they boast Thorgan Hazard, Brandt and the nascent Youssoufa Moukoko and Ansgar Knauff in their squad, and there are reasons to believe the line behind that will be more settled this term. Bellingham is another year on from making a mockery of the age on his birth certificate while the return of Witsel from injury will be like a new signing in itself.

In goal, Gregor Kobel - an arrival from from Stuttgart - isn't the first or even the second Swiss keeper on Dortmund's books, but he might be the best. He made 110 saves last term - more than any other goalkeeper in the top half of the table - and looks to be the long-term solution there.