Tactics Journal

by Kyle Boas

Analyzing football tactics

Gabriel pinned to Kane isolates Arsenal's left side

Gabriel was pinned to Harry Kane, which isolated Jakub Kiwior and Zinchenko. Bayern Munich focused on attacking their right-wing to open up the rest of the pitch.

Figure 1.1 - Joshua Kimmich and Matthijs de Ligt collect the ball from Manuel Neuer, then play it up the wing.

Bayern Munich had this smart routine during goal kicks. Matthijs de Ligt stayed close to Kimmich to ensure both Havertz and Martinelli marked them. Because Arsenal like pressing aggressively, this forced Declan Rice to push high. If de Ligt isn’t there, Havertz can mark the player Rice is marking.

Figure 1.2 - Leroy Sané receives with Jakub Kiwior at his back. Gabriel pushes forward to cover Harry Kane.
Figure 1.3 - Leroy Sané in on goal because Gabriel is pinned to Harry Kane.

Gabriel can’t help Kiwior because he is tasked with marking Harry Kane. The moment he dismarks from Kane, Kane is in on goal. Instead, they allow Sané in on goal.

Figure 2.1 - Gabriel in-line with Harry Kane.
Figure 3.1 - Gabriel in-line with Harry Kane during a throw-in.
Figure 4.1 - Gabriel jumps forward to cover Harry Kane, and the pass is on down the right-wing because Zinchenko challenges the ball.

Bayern Munich can take advantage of this marking assignment of Gabriel following Kane by dragging Kane far out if position, like he likes to do, to further isolate Arsenal’s left-back. All they need is one ball over the top and they are in.

Arsenal should keep their back-line in line with Gabriel. Saliba and White on the far-side are always keeping Munich’s right-winger onside when Gabriel jumps forward.

Maybe Declan Rice can try to not take the bait by staying forward, and instead sit further back when the left-back moves forward. Avoid the De Ligt pressing trigger, allow De Ligt to pass the ball, and move Havertz back to mark the player Rice would normally mark. Allow Bayern Munich to have more possession in their own half but shut-off distribution into the wingers and Musiala.

Figure 5.1 - Space in transition after attacking down the right-wing.

The benefit of constantly attacking Arsenal’s right-wing is that it opens up space on the rest of the pitch. Especially in transition. It goes back to my American Football analogy:

Think of a through ball like a run in American Football, the NFL. In order to pass, you need to run the ball. By running the ball, you force the opposition’s defense to defend against it. They can’t blitz the passer like they would against the pass. By running the ball on 1st down, you open up the defense on 3rd down.

After attacking their weaker left side (through ball in the analogy), then they defend more conservatively. If you only attack down the middle or down their right side, it’s easier to stop. And it’s weaker because Martinelli isn’t as active as Saka in defense. Gabriel Jesus caused Manchester City a lot of issues playing at left-wing because he was as active as Saka.

Match: Arsenal 2-2 Bayern Munich, 9 April 2024

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