top of page

Marco Rose 4-2-3-1 Tactic & What Dortmund Can Expect

After two successful years with Red Bull Salzburg, German coach Marco Rose made a return to his home country to take on the role as Borussia Monchgengladbach manager for the start of the 2019-20 season. Rose has continued his success with Gladbach so far since taking charge and has only enhanced his reputation as a manager, with 50% of his matches won and his team well within the hunt for the top for again. Rose has since changed Gladbach's formation to primarily a 4-2-3-1, focusing more on quick transitions and the importance of fullbacks in build-up phases. Now that Rose looks prepared to take over at Borussia Dortmund in time for next season, we take an in-depth look at the tactics he's deployed in 2020-21. Here's what Marco Rose can bring to Borussia Dortmund.



Although chopping and changing his formation around frequently in the past, Marco Rose has stuck very true to a 4-2-3-1 system this season. Like most 4-2-3-1’s, Rose urges his fullbacks to advance with the play and become focal points in attack. Luckily, Rose has three fantastic players for the role in Stefan Lainer, Ramy Bensebaini, and Oscar Wendt. Conveniently, Lainer was a key figurehead of Salzburg’s lineup throughout Rose’s time at the Austrian club and the player and manager have a great understanding. A future Dortmund player? Probably not, even despite how much Dortmund could do with a new right-back.

Monchengladbach have been associated with a quick transition mentality, as Marco Rose implemented during his time at Salzburg. But Gladbach still utilize methods of playing out from the back when possible, with only Sommer and Ginter attempting a significant amount of long passes per game. The fullbacks are particularly important in this methodology, as they attempt to play through wider channels rather than central ones when playing out from the back. In particular, Christoph Kramer and Stefan Lainer frequently link up to provide forward passes into the right-winger. Gladbach use the right side in their attack 39% of the time, while also adopting the third most vertical approach in the league (29%). This means that quick attacking transitions and playing through the middle are still important to Rose, but not as much as the manager might have tried to do at Salzburg.

During build-up phases, Ginter and Elvedi are also important to maintaining possession, stretching the field with reasonably wide positions as the fullbacks get higher and the central midfielders come deeper to pick up the ball and form a central square by which they can use to advance the ball into the wide areas. When the team operates in a back-three, the role of the wing-backs becomes even more important as the wide forwards (if any are in the team) will play more inverted and look to combine in central areas.



When Gladach are pressing from the front, the attacking midfielder and striker work in tandem to stop the opposition from being able to play out from the back, as the wingers come close together and attempt to shut down wide spaces. This can take the form of a 4-2-2-2 shape with Stindl joining alongside the striker, or more 4-2-3-1 as he remains withdrawn and tries to stop the opposition’s number six from receiving the ball.

The pressing system utilized also appears to be more man-oriented rather than space or ball-oriented. For example in moments where the opposition goalkeeper has the ball, the striker may press the keeper, the wingers may cover the center-backs and the number ten will cover the opposition’s defensive midfielder. But the press goes far beyond just the front four to include the midfield two and the fullbacks. The fullbacks will frequently line themselves up with the opposition fullbacks in order to eliminate the option for longer balls or forward passes in the wide areas, as the defensive midfielders will usually engage with opposition central midfielders.

Interestingly for Marco Rose, instead of forcing his opposition back toward their own goal or to the middle, Monchengladbach have a strong desire to force their opposition into wide areas, where they are set up well to win back possession and engage their fullbacks in the attack. Gladbach’s press is also particularly aggressive. Although they have kept the fifth most amount of possession in the league this season (52%), they’ve also made the fifth-most interceptions per game. This emphasizes that even when they don’t have the ball, they look to win it back and go on the attack right away. This is all part of their quickness in transition.