Match in a sentence
A fantastic team performance, along with goals from Felipe Santana, Mario Gotze and Jakub Błaszczykowski, saw Borussia Dortmund cruise past Shakhtar Donetsk into the Champions League quarter-finals for the first time in 15 years.
- Jurgen Klopp’s men opted to play in a 4-2-3-1 with Robert Lewandowski leading the line. Marco Reus, Mario Gotze and Jakub Blaszczykowski played behind Lewandowski, while Ilkay Gundogan and Sven Bender were the two holders. Felipe Santana formed a centre back pair with Neven Subotic as Mats Hummels was unable to recover from the flu.
- Mircea Lucescu’s men also lined up in a 4-2-3-1 with Luiz Adriano leading the line and Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Taison and Alex Teixeira behind him. Fernandinho and Tomas Hubschman protected the backline and Oleksandr Kucher returned from suspension.
- The match started in nearly an identical manner to the 1st leg fixture at the Donbass Arena. Without the presence of Mat Hummels, Dortmund lacked a centre back with a wide range of passing. The Ukrainian side decided to ignore Bayern’s successful pressing job against Dortmund last week, in which the Munich side pressed the defenders and forced them to concede possession. Lucescu’s men allowed Subotic and Felipe Santana to play balls to their fullbacks and to the attacking three. Lucescu’s side pressed the midfield two of Gundogan and Bender, and despite it being effective, the tactical awareness of both men allowed them to overcome Donetsk’s pressing.
- Gundogan and Bender were the star men of the half, but they were forced to drop deeper to receive possession (like Gundogan did in the second half against Bayern) and they dictated the tempo of the match. With no Donetsk players willing to pick up the midfielders, they were able to start most of Dortmund’s build up play and were pivotal to their dominance in possession.
- As they did in the first leg, Klopp’s front four pressed the Shakhtar defenders. This would explain Dortmund’s superiority in possession, and it also led to their dominance throughout the game, mainly in the first half. Fernandinho was unable to get on the ball, and Shakhtar struggled to attack as a unit going forward.
- Dortmund took the lead 30 minutes in courtesy of a fantastic Felipe Santana header. Santana rose above Yaroslay Rakitskiy and nodded the ball into the top corner.
- The German side struggled to create legitimate goal-scoring opportunities, and that was down to Lucescu’s approach to the game. He wanted his side to sit deep and defend as a unit. They sat in a 4-4-1-1 with Taison in a more advanced position on the left, and to no surprise he was their main outlet for counter attacks. Every time Donetsk won possession, they sprayed the ball out to Taison, but the young Brazilian was unable to have any influence on the match. Considering the space Lukasz Piszczek left available, Lucescu’s approach was wise, but Dortmund got back in numbers and defended well.
- Seven minutes after Santana’s opener, Gotze doubled Dortmund’s lead. Lewandowski whipped in a menacing ball, and Gotze guided the ball past Andriy Pyatov.
- In the second half, Douglas Costa was introduced into the game in place of Taison, and he made a significant impact. Costa also had two chances in the opening three minutes of the second half, but was unable to convert. It’s clear that with Costa on the field, Shakhtar was balanced as a unit. Costa tucked in to make up a midfield three, and his presence allowed Darijo Srna to bomb forward like he did in the first leg.
- Jakub Błaszczykowski put the tie out of reach after Pyatov spilled Gundogan’s shot. Błaszczykowski picked up the rebound and slotted his shot past Roman Weidenfeller.
- With Shakhtar needing three goals in 30 minutes to progress, Dortmund approached the game with caution. They sat in a 4-5-1, allowing Donetsk to push more men forward, but leaving them vulnerable on the break. Luiz Adriano was a peripheral figure on the night, but when Shakhtar were presented chances, Weidenfeller made several saves to deny the Ukrainian side a goal.
- Dortmund is the first of the three German sides to advance to the quarter-finals of the Champions League. Despite being 17 points behind Bayern Munich in their domestic league, Klopp’s men have saved their best performances for European nights. The growth of this team has been a joy for football neutrals to watch over the past few months, and with Klopp’s guidance, the German side will go into the draw as legitimate contenders to feature at Wembley in May.
1. Ilkay Gundogan
2. Mario Gotze
3. Roman Weidenfeller