For a while now Arsenal have been repeatedly linked with Borussia Dortmund’s midfield sensation Mario Goetze. There was a lot of discussion involving Goetze in the build-up to the two sides’ meeting two months ago, but in the end the diminutive playmaker failed to live up to the expectations, and didn’t see a whole lot of the ball.
So far this season Goetze has 6 goals and 7 assists in 17 appearances, including a recent winner against giants Bayern Munich, who sit atop of the Bundesliga, two points ahead of Dortmund. The 19-year-old (yes, he’s still a teenager) can play centrally behind the striker or as a wide midfielder, so primarily functions in some sort of 4-3-3 adaptation – 4-2-3-1 for Dortmund, and usually something similar for Germany). His favoured position does seem to be in the number ten role, which is where he’s played primarily for Dortmund.
Franz Beckenbauer compared young Goetze to Lionel Messi just a couple of months ago; big praise, and in fairness he’s justified the comparisons somewhat with his clever passing, excellent dribbling and cool finishes. Goetze is most at home against teams who will let him play, and he may well get the space he requires at the Emirates Stadium. He’s likely to come up against Alex Song, Thomas Vermaelen and Laurent Koscielny, all of whom have been playing well to different extents lately, and he’ll have a tough job of getting past them. But his movement his exceptional and he’ll certainly cause big problems for Arsenal.
A bargain from Japan, Kagawa enjoyed an excellent start to his Dortmund career last season, grabbing 12 goals in 28 games. A technically-gifted player who can also graft, he’ll be a worry for Arsenal on which ever wing he plays on – he may also start centrally with Goetze on the wing, as the German side have the potential to mix things up.
Kagawa likes to drift inside to cause havoc, and sometimes ends up taking his marker with him, creating space for his team-mates even if he doesn’t get in the ball. Also a devastating finisher, he’ll punish Arsenal if he gets an inch of space in or around their area. Like Goetze, Kagawa is a very intelligent player and his passes often cut teams apart.
With Arsenal’s usually high line and the pace of Dortmund’s attack, Kagawa’s through balls might be a big threat.
The third member of Dortmund’s attacking trio who play off of one of Lucas Barrios and Robert Lewandowski, Kevin Grosskreutz is a powerful, quick, enthusiastic attacking midfielder. His pace is usually a key part of BVB’s devastating counter attacks, and he’s comfortable on either foot.
While his finishing is a strength of his, he also works hard for the team in defence, getting back to help win the ball back in order to start a counter attack. His impressive stamina is one of the reasons he can do this constantly through-out games, and is a key part of what he brings to die Schwarzgelben.
All in all, Arsenal have three frightening young attacking talents to deal with at the Emirates in their fifth group game. Arsene Wenger will hope to be able to neutralise all three of them, but his players certainly have their work cut out.
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