It is official. Peter Bosz will succeed Thomas Tuchel, taking on the position as head coach of Borussia Dortmund.
The 53-year-old has been highly praised by many insiders for quite a while, yet his time under the limelight has been fairly short. Dealing with the pressure which is put on a coach at the Westfalenstadion is probably the most difficult task for him. As a tactician, however, he seems beyond almost any doubt.
Until Bosz signed for Ajax and became the coach of the Dutch powerhouse last summer, he had worked for several small clubs in the Netherlands where he had the chance to evolve as a coach and figure out what his philosophy could consist of. Once he became the head coach of Vitesse in 2013, Bosz began to make a name for himself with possession-heavy football. Vitesse, a mid-tier club in the Eredivisie, dominated most of their opponents in the ball-possession department, without being overly successful. But Bosz had found his concept and stuck to it, for which he received praise and criticism at the same time.
Possession is key
In recent weeks, several sources indicated that Lucien Favre was leading the shortlist to become the new BVB head coach. When his club, OGC Nice, declined the offer from Dortmund, Bosz became the new no. 1 candidate. From a tactical standpoint, Bosz is, by far, the more logical successor of Tuchel. He embodies a style of football which fits Dortmund’s roster and the aspirations the Black and Yellows have in regards to how they want to portray the club.
His forward-thinking, offensive-minded football has many similarities with Tuchel’s. It starts at the back. Just like Tuchel, Bosz wants his centre-backs to be more than pawns in the build-up play. He demands that, at least from time to time, one of them takes the ball and makes a run forward. Combined with roaming midfielders who intend to open the running lane, that element alone could be very effective against many Bundesliga teams who prefer man-oriented defending schemes.
The fact that his midfielders are asked to drag their markers away from the centre-back’s lane also enables the defender to play a direct pass to the centre-forward who might drop a few yards back. With Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s future at Borussia Dortmund in doubt, Bosz could ask the front office to bid for strikers who are comfortable with the back towards the goal and able to play quick and accurate lay-off passes. Once the forward receives the ball, usually the opposition starts focusing on the area the ball is in, while other zones are exposed. Accurate lay-off passes are a key to benefit from those exposed zones.
Counter-Pressing and dominance
A rather general theme in Bosz’s style of football is the stretched shape when his players are in possession of the ball. Wide full-backs, who occasionally move into the half-space, and vertically roaming midfielders are only two of several elements of Bosz’s general attacking approach. In case of a turnover, his teams have shown promising counter-pressing. Ajax, for instance, were able to narrow the stretched formation within a few seconds, shutting down the short passing options for the ball carrier.
Considering that BVB have struggled to prevent counter-attacks throughout the 2016-2017 season, Bosz may be the perfect coach to further develop Dortmund’s defence and underline his willingness to dominate matches—and that is what we can expect from Bosz. It is understandable what he wants to achieve with high ball possession, and it is understandable that Dortmund have developed into a club which want to see dominance. In that regard, Bosz should be able to deliver the expected product. (Whether he is able to deal with the politics at Dortmund remains to be seen.)