Tactics Journal

by Kyle Boas

Analyzing football tactics

Thomas Muller: What we are missing is freedom

An animated Thomas Müller described after the Bayer Leverkusen match what Bayern Munich are missing: “what we are missing is freedom” and “a certain level of player intelligence, with a certain degree of independence on the pitch.”

There are symptoms that you can see on the pitch and I am honestly pissed off at the result. What we are missing is freedom.

We show significantly better approaches in training. In training because we are brave and we play more freely, and that is what we are missing.

You see Leverkusen, not every move is planned. When Grimaldo appears on the far right side, even though he’s a left-back. They just gamble, they play football, they look for solutions. When he realizes that the spaces is closed, he pulls himself up two meters, but we don’t do that when the pressure is there.

We go from A to B, from B to C, and maybe it’s a waiting game. Bring the ball into the opponent’s half more often, play a long ball from back here, just out of bounds, then there’s a throw-in. We can deliver it, we can have pressure in the opponent’s half — play there.

What I’m talking about are decisions, especially with the ball, and the tactical approach has nothing to do with it. It also has to do with a certain level of player intelligence, with a certain degree of independence on the pitch. Making decisions about which routes we should take.

This is foreign, he is not used to losing. This approach to be your own player and find your own space is as foreign to players, in the modern game, as losing is to Müller. Players are not used to being expressive. With each generation, the variance is drilled out of them. They follow a plan. Run at this angle, make this specific pass.

You need players in your team like Thomas Müller who can make their own decisions. Other players feed off that experience. If he speaks about how to find space, you listen, because he is the king at finding space.

Müller makes it a point not to place blame on the manager Thomas Tuchel in this interview, he places blame on the players. I would assume that means Tuchel is giving the players the freedom to move and if they’re not taking risks, then it comes down to their confidence.

Match: Leverkusen 3-0 Bayern Munich, 10 February 2024

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