Bayern 2 – 1 Leipzig: What we wanted? Tactical Analysis


Finally, Bayern won. Was this a pummeling? No. Was this a convincing performance by players and coach? I’d say, definitely yes. When the score went 1-1 I thought “well, even if this ends in a draw, this squad finally played with heart and courage.” When Kane scored it felt like a hard earned but deserved win, as there were both lucky situations and misfortunes on both sides of the pitch.

This article written by Pepe Salazar



Different Tactics?

Yes and no. The tactical approach is still more or less the same, which indicates Tuchel is sticking to his base idea and not going to do anything crazy or weird. Despite this, while the base tactical approach remained the same, either due to desperation or a “I’m out at the end of the season, let’s go for it” attitude, we did see some tactical variations that were very satisfying and very necessary to bring some unpredictability to the match (and let’s hope, for future matches).

Bayern played with their nominal 4-2-3-1 that becomes a 2-3-5 or 3-2-5 in attack, albeit a bit lopsided due to squad limitations, with Musiala as a winger that mostly tucks in and Guerreiro as a LB that also likes to invert, and on the right Sané, Kimmich and Müller forming an attacking triangle unit that switched often, with Kimmich mostly inverting, while Müller and Sané switched from the inside forward to the winger position frequently.

The Return of the Raumdeuter

Müller has been confined to the right wing this season, nearly hugging the sideline. Yesterday, in a positively surprising decision, he was playing more in his natural Raumdeuter role, roaming all around Leipzig’s box, playing behind the striker on the ball, and as a second striker off the ball. He also switched from one wing to the other; this was difficult to mark for Leipzig, who were very adamant in holding their 4-4-2 / 4-2-2-2 shape while defending, which allowed for more movement by Musiala, who instead of being confined to the left flank to tuck in, was also given more freedom to also occupy central spaces.

Tactical analysis

Build up and attack: Tactically, the most interesting game so far this season.

Image via tactical-board.com

These are both teams’ average positions in the first half. This reveals that in effect, Bayern dominated possession and attack while Leipzig was waiting to play their counter attacking style, with the two teams mirroring each other; Bayern in a 2-4-4, and Leipzig in a 4-4-2 one doing positional attack and the other a very static zonal marking.

Imagen del artículo:Bayern 2 – 1 Leipzig: What we wanted? Tactical Analysis

Image via tactical-board.com

Bayern build up in their nominal 2-4-4 with Leipzig sitting in a mid block in their also nominal 4-2-2-2. They were almost inviting Bayern to play on their flanks, imitating what other teams have recently done to defend against Bayern, which is, shut down the middle and center of the pitch.

Imagen del artículo:Bayern 2 – 1 Leipzig: What we wanted? Tactical Analysis

Image via tactical-board.com

After all these games, we finally saw Musiala dropping deep to help in the build up due to Leipzig sitting in their mid block. Despite him losing the ball at times, which was dangerous for Bayern, this really helped the squad build up more effectively, with Pavlović dropping a bit back as well, Goretzka occupying the central lane, and Musiala the left halfspace, which allowed him to make some interesting 1-2 passes with Guerreiro. These movements helped Bayern dominate possession in the midfield, using a 3-4-2-1, or even 3-5-2 shape.

Imagen del artículo:Bayern 2 – 1 Leipzig: What we wanted? Tactical Analysis

Image via tactical-board.com

Despite Bayern’s adaptations, Leipzig didn’t change their tactics and stuck to their 4-2-2-2 shape, occupying central spaces, which gave freedom both to Guerreiro and Kimmich to provide width and assistance from the flanks.

Imagen del artículo:Bayern 2 – 1 Leipzig: What we wanted? Tactical Analysis

Image via tactical-board.com

When Bayern managed to break the mid block and forced Leipzig to drop deep, some interesting shapes came up. On the right flank, Kane/Müller, Kimmich and Sané formed an attacking triangle that was meant to provide passes into the right half space, while Musiala and Müller/Kane attacked the left half space, with Guerreiro sometimes inverting and sometimes overlapping. Pavlovic was always sitting in a six position, which allowed Goretzka to play in a more advanced role.

Imagen del artículo:Bayern 2 – 1 Leipzig: What we wanted? Tactical Analysis

Image via tactical-board.com

On Bayern’s 1st goal, Musiala’s partnership with Kane finally created a big chance and a great goal, with a simple through ball from the left half space. This is why Musiala is much more effective as an inside forward than a winger; he is allowed to dribble, pull defenders towards him, and finally, a simple but perfectly placed through ball was all Kane needed to finish the play.

Imagen del artículo:Bayern 2 – 1 Leipzig: What we wanted? Tactical Analysis

Image via tactical-board.com

Briefly after going up 1-0, Bayern switched from the 4-2-3-1 to a 4-3-3 formation, with Laimer in a more advanced role, both on and off the ball, while Goretzka and Pavlović were more central to keep possession but also avoid surprises on the counter. Sadly, shortly afterwards, Leipzig scored from a rather unlucky deflection by Goretzka, which forced Bayern to forget about possession and play a more risky approach to win the match.

Imagen del artículo:Bayern 2 – 1 Leipzig: What we wanted? Tactical Analysis

Image via tactical-board.com

After Leipzig tied things up 1-1, Bayern switched from the 4-3-3, to a 3-4-3 in attack and 5-3-2 in defense. Leipzig didn’t attack much afterwards and seemed happy to get a 1-1 at the Allianz, but Bayern’s relentless intensity, along with the incorporation of Tel and Choupo on the attack managed to produce important opportunities. After a whole season of a Choupo-Kane partnership that never produced anything, we saw a spectacular goal by Kane on an assist by Choupo, breaking some kind of course and giving Bayern a hard but deserved win.

Pressing and Defending

Imagen del artículo:Bayern 2 – 1 Leipzig: What we wanted? Tactical Analysis

Image via tactical-board.com

Bayern’s pressing and defending tactics were the same as the whole season. The main difference, that we could see, was that the team really committed to defending as a unit, with even the likes of Sané and Musiala doing defensive work off the ball. While the very traditional 4-4-2 was nothing surprising, it was mostly effective against Leipzig’s unchanging 4-4-2 / 4-2-2-2.

Imagen del artículo:Bayern 2 – 1 Leipzig: What we wanted? Tactical Analysis

Image via tactical-board.com

A key for Bayern’s defensive unit to work were defensive partnerships in the flanks; this meant Guerreiro and Kimmich were not left alone in 1v1s against Olmo and Xavi, with the sixes having the instruction to either go and cover the flanks or drop into a box formation with the center backs depending upon Leipzig’s movements.

Imagen del artículo:Bayern 2 – 1 Leipzig: What we wanted? Tactical Analysis

Image via tactical-board.com

Bayern also pressed in a 4-4-2 shape, overloading the ball’s side of the pitch, and since Leipzig didn’t really play wide, this meant they didn’t manage to play switch passes to break the press or defensive formation. Bayern can’t press for long instances because both Kane and Müller are veterans and their energy is better used on attack and possession, but when Bayern did press, they managed to create some chances throughout the game.

Conclusion

This was a satisfying win, I think, both for Tuchel and the squad. We saw the team really play as a unit and not as individuals. I didn’t see the “not my job” attitude I noticed from some players in recent matches. As a fan this felt like a very symbolic win; a reminder that this team can do more than what we’ve seen throughout the season, at least in terms of their attitude and desire to win. This felt more like Bayern.

From a tactical perspective, things were not drastically different, but tiny variations and changes, like Musiala dropping deep (instead of Kane), Müller effectively playing as a Raumdeuter and the center backs and full backs getting more assistance in the defensive phase made the team look more dominant and cohesive. I liked that Tuchel, knowing he will be out, still acted like a professional and stuck to his approach, but also, dared to play a 4-3-3, 3-4-3 and make substitutions sooner rather than later.

I hope this is the beginning of a decent second half of the season, and that Bayern plays like this against Lazio on Tuesday. At this point I think the results are secondary because the Pokal is over, the league title seems out of reach, and the Champions League sometimes depends upon a lucky (or unlucky) play, so what I really want to see is a team that goes for it together.

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