Lucien Favre’s Borussia Dortmund analysis

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Lucien Favre

Born on 2 November 1987, Lucien Favre is a a Swiss professional football manager and the mastermind behind Borussia Dortmund shape and prowess in the last 2 years.

As a player he was renowned as an intelligent playmaker playing for various Swiss and French teams. He played a total of 309 games scoring 72 goals.

Favre spent the first years of his managerial career developing youth players at Echallens and Neuchâtel Xamas. His spell in the youths influenced his managerial style as he will be later known for developing young talents and presenting them to the world as stars.

In 2007, Lucien became Swiss champion with Fc Zurich that had an average age of 21.5 years.

Many young players thrived under his guidance and training and they secured phenomenal transfers like Marco Reus when he moved from the Gladbach team coached by Lucien favre or Granit Xhaka that became one of the best midfielders in Germany before joining Arsenal for a fee that exceeded 30M euros.

The teams coached by the Swiss always deliver beautiful and attacking football, a delight to watch for every soccer fan around the world.

His attractive style of play has brought results in every club he has managed. Furthermore, Favre is very talented tactically, leaving his opponents struggling to penetrate his well-organized sides. He has a reputation of predicting well how opposing teams, coaches or players tend to react in certain situations.

To play his style Favre pays attention to details and technique especially 1v1.

Borussia Dortmund Stats

Knocked out from the champions league and DFB pokal cup, Borussia dortmund has only one trophy they can compete on and it’s the Bundesliga.

Actually ranked second 4 points behind the almighty team of FC Bayern Munich.

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The black and yellow wall can only be proud of the team’s attacking style and the many goals they score. Borussia Dortmund under Lucien Faver is the second top scoring team with no striker. The purchase of Erling halland is going to be a huge addition to the attacking mentality of the team in the upcoming games.

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The defensive attitude of the team this year is a little bit strange with many goals conceded in the last minutes of the games and the trashing they took from the Bayern Munich team. The team tend to lose focus a lot in it cost it a tremendous amount of points and a disqualification in the 2019-2020 champions league.

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The first half of the season saw some troubling times for Favre and his team, as they ended up drawing far too many games that they should have won.

With defensive issues like never before under his reign, Favre had to change something and it was clear that simple personnel changes weren’t enough to get the Yellow and black submarine back on track. Instead, the Swiss manager tweaked the formation, changing the tired 4-2-3-1 into a fluid and creative 3-4-2-1. Since the formation change, Dortmund have been back on top of their form and are now well and truly back in the title race.


The 3-4-2-1 formation

In the first half of the season, Dortmund had had difficulties in the back four line.With the same same players as in the first year of Favre at Dortmund the team reached its limit and couldn’t perform at the highest level resulting in the loss of points in a very comical way sometimes.

It was clear that changes must be made in order to regain the stability and the defensive strength of the team.

Borrussia Dortmund line-up

Moving to a defensive line of three players; Hummels , Zagadou and Piszczek; the overall performance of the team got better scoring 10 goals and conceding 2 in the last 4 games they played.

Moving to a back three helped Mats regain his level as he moved from a system where he is tasked of being aggressive and fight for every ball; which is not his forte by the way, to a system where he is more of a playmaker and a conductor of the defensive movements of the team. HIs passing abilities and high aptitude in reading the game makes him a pillar in this defensive unit.

With the help of two machines like zagadou who is still young and has the physique to dominate any attacking player coming his way, and lukas ;the legend of the team that is performing at a high level at the age of 34. Borussia Dortmund lost and drew only once in their last 10 games and they’ve been more stable than in the first half of the season with the duo Akanji and Hummels

In order for the team to function at maximum efficiency, wingers of high calibre were needed to run up and down their sides animating the attacks and helping the the back three.

Luckily Dortmund has two gems, Achraf hakimi the 21 years old Moroccan superstar loaned from Real Madrid has been delivering one good performance after the other. Combining with Jadon sancho and Hazard the winger has 10 Assists to his name up until now and 3 goals.

On the opposite side, there is the talented dribbler Guerrero that has scored 5 times and assisted in two occasions this season. Hakimi and Guerreiro have arguably been the life-blood of Dortmund this season and without them, this 3-4-2-1 formation undoubtedly would not have been able to achieve such great success.

The heart of the team is without a doubt is Witsel that is one of the most underrated midfielders in the last 5 years. His spell in china Hindered his development but since joining BvB Borussia Dortmund he’s been irreproachable. Vision,aggressivity and quality passing makes him the boss of Favre’s Midfield

Next to him Favre has still to make up his mind, Between Julian Brandt and Emre Can he has got a wide range of choice with two different style. The games played by the two were nothing short than exceptional. Knowing the beautiful football that Favre loves Julian Brandt have the upper hand until now for the place in the Starting 11.


The front three is led by the superstar Jadon Sachon who is placed on the wings. The 20-year old , who you could make the argument for being the very best player in Europe this season, having accumulated 14 goals with 15 assists has been floating this year with the team and no one can get him out of the starting eleven.

In the opposite flank, There is Hazard; not Eden but Thorgan, with 5 goals and 10 assists this season he seem to adapt more and more with the playing style of the Swiss tactician and is now considered one of the engineers of the the black and yellow attacks.

Up front it has been a mix of two players: new arrival Erling Braudt Haaland, who has broken all kinds of records with his 9 goals in 8 matches to start his Bundesliga career, and the club captain, Marco Reus, who has probably been Dortmund’s most significant and consistent player again this season, with 11 goals and 5 assists.

Dortmund’s attack: A goal machine

Three names have been causing havoc in opponent’s defenses for Dortmund; Achraf Hakimi , Jadon Sancho and Erling Halland.

Jadon sancho is the leader of this trio with his speed and movement with the ball he easily draw 2 players to mark him and liberate space for the other two to get in dangerous positions.

Sancho and haaland movements

As we can see in the picture Sancho had three players marking him opening space for Haaland to get closer to the box of the opponent.

And in this sequence he opens space for Hakimi to get in the box and deliver a cross the striker. Note that both actions ended in Erling scoring

The trio has great chemistry and their movements with and without the ball open spaces and passing trajectories for them and their teammates. Their high speed and skill with the ball make them hard to deal with.

Another crucial factor to Dortmund’s attacking play in the final third is intricate little tricks and flicks primarily done through one-two-touch passing and triangular combination play in and around the final third.

They are often very patient in looking for the right shooting opportunities and work these short passes to open up the perfect angle, through-ball for an unexpected runner or shot from distance

The statistics shows that 80% of Dortmund attacks come form the sides using high speed and skilled players to penetrate defences. Also we can see that the team is very patient while attacking as they spend more time in the middle third rotating the ball and stretching the opponents defence before scoring.

Although the vast majority of goals that BVB have scored this season have come from the more patient build-up and one-two touch play, they also frequently score goals through counter attacking with the incredibly quick players that they have at their disposal, and Mats Hummels’ ability to pick out a longer pass. They don’t counter attack to the same extent that they once did under Jurgen Klopp, but it is certainly still a feature of their play.


Defending the Yellow wall

Defence has been a pain in the neck of Lucien Favre. lack of concentration and individual errors cost the team points they could’ve easily earned and could have been top of the Bunndesliga.

The change to the new system was motivated by the fact that Dortmund defence sucks.

In the 3-4-2-1 system, Favre defends high on the pitch and tries to get the ball back in the early stages of the opposition’s build up. The front three usually have to press the defenders and drive them to errors or playing long balls

Dortmund front three pressing high

As you see in the picture the wingers covers one Central defender and one wing back while the striker is marking the opposition’s defensive midfielder.

Once the ball reaches the wing backs it is Hakimi and Guerrero that comes to challenge them, Sancho and Hazard mark the central defenders in this case.

Hakimi pressing the fullback

When the opponent is great at getting the ball out and gets it to the midfield, Favre’s man drop and position themselves in a 5-3-2 system with Hakimi and Guerrero back to fulfil their defensive duty.

in the 3-4-2-1, Dortmund have been able to close the space more quickly and look less susceptible to defensive errors. The back three quickly become a back five out of possession, with Witsel and Can/Brandt remaining compact in central areas. With Erling Haaland in the lineup, Jadon Sancho and Thorgan Hazard seem to come back more frequently to join what is very much a 5-3-2.

Thoughts on Borussia Dortmund

Before Favre Two managers failed to make the yellow engine fire. Favre trust in the youth and the Dortmund Board and scouting service played a big role in the beautiful and powerful football the team is displaying.

All the recruits of Dortmund have been phenomenal, looking for players with potential and not following the hype and craziness of the transfer market had helped the team secure quality players at minimum costs, Jadon Sancho, Witsel, Hakimi, Hazard, Brandt …. and other names that fit extremely well in Lucien Favre’s philosophy.

The training approach of the Swiss manager that focuses on developing his players quality on a continuous basis has helped the team evolve and be hard to deal with in the last two years. Taking Hakimi as an example, he has played different position under Favre, improved his understanding of the game and became deadlier in the final third. All this in less than two years. Marco Reus regained his level and was clinical in Dortmund’s attack after Lucien favre took command.


The Bundesliga stopped in a time when Dortmund had found its momentum unfortunately. They were back on winning tracks and they produced great football for the fans.

With the Bundesliga resuming this week many questions pops into everyone’s mind. How the players will be performing after a long stop ? How many games until they reach the level they were in ? and how coaches have to deal with the busy schedule that awaits them to ensure maximum efficiency of the team.

Time will tell


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