Tactics Journal

by Kyle Boas

Analyzing football tactics

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Bayern Munich don't wait

The thing I like about Bayern Munich is that they don’t wait. They don’t rush, but they are calculated when they start an attack. There are no wasted passes. No wasted runs.

The goal is to dominate Galatasaray psychologically more than anything. They didn’t assert that much pressure in their counter-press. They don’t look to dominate you by keeping possession, pinning you back. The fear of their runs is enough to force the opponent to allocate more to defense. Galatasaray can’t fully commit to attack, but they tried.

If Bayern Munich aren’t threatening your goal within three to four passes, they are doing something wrong. Something they didn’t plan to do. When they get stuck, look down at the touchline, and you’ll see Bayern manager Thomas Tuchel flailing his arms around, directing the ball carrier to pass to the open player because someone is always open.

Figure 1.1 - Manuel Neuer kicks the ball upfield, high into the air.
Figure 1.2 - Leon Goretzka begins his run anticipating the header on.
Figure 1.3 - Leon Goretzka receives the ball, and Bayern Munich have a 3v4 on the break.
Figure 1.4 - Leon Goretzka plays a through ball to Leroy Sané.
Figure 1.5 - Leroy Sané is in on goal, but the shot is saved.

This play perfectly encapsulates Bayern’s play. Anticipated runs in the half-spaces to create numerical advantages in transition.

Bayern did not pin Galatasaray back into their own end to slowly pass it about, like they could. They wanted to create situations like this. This is how they dominate the play. It’s a similar concept to what Manchester City used to take advantage of their speed against Bournemouth on the weekend.

Midfield drops, lure them into your own half, and then go direct to take advantage of your speed.

Figure 2.1 - Ball is switched to Kingsley Coman. Two men make a run in the box for the cross.
Figure 2.2 - Kingsley Coman doesn't have the angle for the cross, so he takes the shot.

There was no second-guessing when forwards received the ball. Get the ball, attack your man. You as the ball carrier know there are, at minimum, two men making a run in the box. Bayern are always making runs from everywhere. They are never static.

Intelligent runs. Runs that are practiced, and predictable to a degree, but they have too much talent for it to be stoppable. No two attacks are the same. There’s enough variety in the way they attempt to create numerical advantages with their runners.

It’s a matter of how precise the passes are. The opponent can’t keep up with this amount of constant movement. If the pass is accurate, it’s guaranteed to be a high-quality chance.

Figure 3.1 - Thomas Muller spots the space as Victor Nelsson steps forward to head the ball.
Figure 3.2 - Thomas Muller attacks the space and curves his run to stay onside. Harry Kane plays him in with a through ball.
Figure 3.3 - Thomas Muller draws in all of Galatasaray's defense, leaving Mathys Tel and Harry Kane open. Thomas Muller passes to Mathys Tel.
Figure 3.4 - Mathys Tel passes to Harry Kane.
Figure 3.5 - Harry Kane scores.

It would be wrong of me not to mention this play showcasing Thomas Muller’s killer instincts at finding the space. The torch might be passed to Jude Bellingham soon as the world’s best Raumdeuter but Muller is still the original.

Mathys Tel and Harry Kane don’t need to think, they just go. The run is automatic so the entire play is automatic. It’s like living in a dream. You can see the outcome from a mile away, but you can’t stop it.

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