2nd: Borussia Dortmund
Julian Brandt has been given a wide role since his summer transfer from Bayer Leverkusen, and from there he offers different qualities to new teammates Jadon Sancho, Thorgan Hazard and Jacob Bruun Larsen. The right-footed Brandt (above) has so far largely been used from the left, contributing to the creation of a central midfield box from the team’s starting 4-2-3-1 structure.
The 23-year-old’s inside movements create space for an overlapping left-back, but also encourage number 10 Marco Reus to drift towards the right inside channel. Runners Hazard, Sancho and Bruun Larsen then offer more penetrative movements, pushing the opposing defence closer to their own goal and creating more spaces for Brandt and Reus to receive in and play forwards.
Once in the attacking third, Brandt offers delicate passes between the lines and favours creating instead of finishing. Reus offers the more penetrative threat – both with and without possession – and can shoot effectively from range; Brandt plays off both feet, and his unpredictability when receiving makes it difficult for defenders to prevent him turning, encouraging him to connect with multiple attacking options.
The speed and changes of direction from Dortmund’s runners also draws opposing defenders, creating greater spaces for Brandt to play possession. The team’s offensive threat is great enough that they can progress alongside group favourites Barca.
Last season: Round of 16