The Tactic Used by Edin Terzić for Borussia Dortmund in 2023/2024 Season

May 07, 2024

by xfcedi

The Tactic Used by Edin Terzić for Borussia Dortmund in 2023/2024 Season

By Eduard Bănulescu

Edin Terzić’s results with Borussia Dortmund this season have been a mixed bag. But it’s the final impression that matters the most. Dortmund are in the Champions League semi-finals and battling for what would be a historic piece of silverware.

But how did Terzić do it? What tactics led to this success, and where did they fail in Bundesliga matches? This is what I will try to analyze in this article.

The Tactic Used by Edin Terzić for Borussia Dortmund in 2023/2024 Season

Career Prior to Managing Borussia Dortmund

Edin Terzić’s role as manager of Dortmund has stood on shakey ground often during recent years. His talent and passion for the club are undeniable. Still, his history is somewhat different from that of a typical Bundesliga manager.

Terzić is still only 41 years old. A football enthusiast, during his teenage years he played football in the German fourth tier during his teenage years and worked on earning a degree in Sports Science.

Terzić earned his first major break in 2010 when he was hired as a scout for Dortmund, which was coached by Jurgen Klopp. Next, Slaven Bilic offered him the role of Assistant Manager at Besiktas in the Turkish Super Lig and at West Ham United in the Premier League.

In 2018, he returned to Dortmund and became Lucien Favre’s assistant coach, but following his dismissal, he was appointed interim manager.

In fairness, few expected Edin Terzić, although well-liked by the players, to become the full-time manager of the team. Following another sacking, this time of manager Marco Rose, Terzić became head coach of Borussia Dortmund.

He nearly delivered the Bundesliga title in 2023, losing on the final day to Bayern Munchen. And although the club is on track to finish fifth in the domestic league this season, Edin Terzić has guided them to the Champions League semi-finals, winning against PSG in the first leg of the tie.

Football Philosophy

In many ways, Edin Terzić applies the football tenets that Borussia Dortmund has relied on for the past two decades. Dortmund plays aggressive, counter-attacking football. The team presses relentlessly, focusing particular energy on forcing mistakes from the opponents’ centre-backs and full-backs.

Dortmund tries to be highly compact in the defensive phase, forcing the ball into overrun central areas. They tend to attack down the wings. And, yes, they heavily rely on the individual talent of players like Marcel Sabitzer, Marco Reus and, more recently, Jadon Sancho.

Several senior players championed Edin Terzić’s appointment. He is known for his man-management skills, which have allowed him to get the best out of ageing squad members or players who had experienced trouble settling in at other clubs.

Formations and adaptability

As a team that enjoys to build from the back and play short passes whenever possible, Borussia Dortmund’s biggest task is finding ways to break down the opposition. This becomes particularly difficult when teams sit back and allow Dortmund to have possession.

Depending on this scenario, Terzić may choose to shift from a 4-2-3-1 to a 4-3-3 or a 3-4-2-1. The role of the central midfielders is very important in making this decision. In some ways, Emre Can and Marcel Sabitzer’s positioning determines how all the players will set up.

The 4-2-3-1 formation is Dortmund’s default setup with two defensive midfielders. However, in the 4-3-3, they’ll use two defensive midfielders and two attacking central midfielders whose role is to find through balls for the attacker.

Dortmund is not above playing long balls forward. When they do this, Terzic likes to use a formation resembling a 3-2-5. The team likes to cut out space, advance its central defenders, and attempt to get the striker (usually Niclas Füllkrug) to try and break down the defensive line.

The Tactic Used by Edin Terzić for Borussia Dortmund in 2023/2024 Season

Borussia Dortmund in Defense

In 2024, technically, Dortmund has started nearly every single game with four at the back. On paper, this is a relatively conservative approach that involves two ball-playing central defenders, Matt Hummels and Nico Schlotterbeck, who are able to build from the back, as well as two high-flying wing-backs, Julian Ryerson and Ian Maatsen.

But Terzić has shown to be unpredictable on occasion. For example, as previously mentioned, when forced to build high against a highly defensive opposition, one of the full-backs, usually Ryerson, will take on a midfielder role, and the team will play with three central defenders.

Also, as previous Dortmund managers have done, the team likes to play with a high backline and with little space between defenders. It’s not unlike Jurgen Klopp‘s gegenpressing. And, similarly, it requires great concentration from players to get right.

There are also many instances in which the team will engage in man-marking, usually leaving one of the opposition’s full-backs free. This can greatly ramp up pressure.

These defensive tactics, however, are, by definition, risky. Have they worked for Terzic and Dortmund? At the time of writing, they have one of the better defensive records in the league. Still, opposition teams like Bayer Leverkusen, RB Leipzig or VfB Stuttgart have conceded far fewer goals.

The Tactic Used by Edin Terzić for Borussia Dortmund in 2023/2024 Season

Borussia Dortmund in Attack

Terzić’s Dortmund has shown they can also be an exciting attacking team. The victory against PSG in the first leg of the Champions League semi-finals proves this.

And while they have plenty of incredible attacking talent to depend on, it’s also true that they are scoring less than their Bundesliga opponents. Leverkusen, Leipzig, Stuttgart and Bayern Munchen have all offered up far better attacking stats.

How does Dortmund do it (or fail to)? Terzic has a number of tricks up his sleeve besides long balls played forward or quick, short passing from the back.

The 2024 Dortmund likes to attack half-spaces in wider areas. This should make the center-back or full-back be drawn out of position. Dortmund’s wide midfielder will then, most likely, play a pass to an underlapping center-back or midfielder.

Dortmund also relies heavily on its wing-backs. Similarly to the first scenario, a wide midfielder will pick up the ball in the final third and look for the wing-back to make a run out wide. The ball is then crossed onto Füllkrug.

Finally, Dortmund likes to use cutbacks, getting many players at the edge of the box and encouraging a back pass. The fact that the team has plenty of players capable of taking long shots greatly helps in this respect.

The Tactic Used by Edin Terzić for Borussia Dortmund in 2023/2024 Season

What is next for Borussia Dortmund and Edin Terzić?

Edin Terzić, in some ways, has done better than what was expected of him. Last season, the team was unlucky in not winning the Bundesliga title. This season, they are battling for a spot in the Champions League final.

However, it’s not all been a success. As recent history has shown, the job of a Borussia Dortmund manager is never fully secure.

Dortmund must return to battling for the Bundesliga Meisterschale, but things have changed. The team’s leader Marco Reus will depart the team at the end of the campaign. Other important players are entering the final stages of their careers, too.

There’s also the matter of Bayer Leverkusen winning the league comfortably or VfB Stuttgart, RB Leipzig and Bayern Munchen outperforming Dortmund domestically this season.

Edin Terzić is likely to receive at least one more season in charge. And while reaching his objectives won’t be easy, he has proven to be a dependable manager, and his resume has been improved marvelously by the recent couple of years.


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