Borussia Dortmund have parted company with coach Peter Bosz after a disappointing run of games that saw the club plummet from first to seventh in the space of 50 painful days. Peter Stöger was himself dismissed by bottom-of-the-table Cologne just last week, but the BVB board have decided that the Austrian is the man to steady this hitherto sinking Schwarzgelben ship.
The question now is: what will Stöger’s Dortmund look like? bundesliga.com takes a closer look…
Despite the Billy Goats own recent travails, Stöger remains the most successful coach in Cologne’s recent history, and last season he helped the club end a 25-year drought without European football. A perusal at how his Cologne side lined up last term can illuminate how Dortmund might now look in this.
In an era in which 4-2-3-1 has become the formation du jour, Stöger’s Cologne were a refreshing throw-back to the 1990s. With no inverted winger in sight, the left-footed Konstantin Rausch and right-footed Marcel Risse were expected to pump plenty of balls into the box from their natural side of the pitch. Getting on the end of those chances was one Anthony Modeste, who plundered 25 goals – only six fewer than Torjägerkanone-winner Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, a player who Stöger now inherits at the Signal Iduna Park.
Tucked in behind Modeste was Yuya Osako, tasked simultaneously with being the second man in the area should the ball break kindly, and also being the crucial link between midfield and attack. Seven goals and six assists show the Japanese fulfilled this role with aplomb. It was simple, it was retro, and it worked. Leicester City shocked the world in winning the English Premier League with the system in 2015/16; Atletico Madrid made it to two of the last four UEFA Champions League finals with it; and Stöger confirmed that with the right players, 4-4-2 remained a force to be reckoned with.
Watch: How many of Aubameyang's African-record 97 Bundesliga goals do you think have been scored outside the box?
Dortmund have used 25 players in just 14 Bundesliga games this season. Admittedly, mid-season injuries to Lukasz Pisczek, Marcel Schmelzer, Raphael Guerreiro and Mario Götze didn’t help Bosz’s cause, but for a coach who played the same 4-1-4-1 formation in every single Dutch Eredivisie game with Ajax last season, the suspicion remains that Bosz departs still unsure of what Dortmund’s strongest XI is. Such uncertainty is decidedly unlikely under Stöger.
Stöger’s hand is forced in some regards. There’s nary a coach in world football who wouldn’t relish having a fully fit Marco Reus to call upon. Maximillian Philipp – his natural replacement who has bagged six goals this season – joined him on the sidelines recently after injuring his knee. The pair will have Götze for company in the BVB medical bay for the next few months.
That’s not to say there aren’t world class players still at Stöger’s disposal, some of whom are all-but guaranteed a starting place in a Stöger-esque BVB formation. Aubameyang remains one of the deadliest strikers in the game. Where only one of Modeste’s goals last season was scored outside of the box, Auba has only scored one of his African-record 97 Bundesliga strikes to date from range. Pumping those crosses in? The left-footed Guerreiro and right-footed Christian Pulisic would seem to be pretty safe bets – only Lionel Messi and Neymar have attempted more dribbles than the latter across Europe’s major leagues this season.
With that duo marauding out wide, Nuri Sahin and Julian Weigl should have no problem at all adapting to the roles given to Matthias Lehmann and Marco Höger last term, spraying the passes from the centre of the park rather than latching onto the end of them. The biggest question is who partners Auba up front? Andrey Yarmolenko has played centrally for Dynamo Kyiv and Ukraine; Shinji Kagawa is custom-made for the role Osako played, and that’s before Reus, Philipp and Götze rejoin the party…