Tactics Journal

by Kyle Boas

Analyzing football tactics

Bayern Munich's second half switch that changed the game versus Real Madrid

In the second half, Bayern Munich subbed out Goretzka, switching to a Laimer single pivot. That allowed them to quickly bypass the big space between Real Madrid’s first and second line then attack, with Guerreiro forward, giving them a +1 in transition.

Figure 1.1 - Bayern Munich's 3-box-3 with space between Real Madrid's first and second line.

This 3-box-3 is a defense. It’s not conservative like a low-block or back-four, but the 3-2 sub-structure at the back is in theory helpful when defending against a counter-attacking team like Real Madrid.

If Real Madrid win the ball, Goretzka and Laimer can quickly shift back to help defenders Eric Dier, Kim Min-Jae, and Joshua Kimmich.

Figure 2.1 - Space between Real Madrid's first and second line in the Bayern Munich build-up.
Figure 2.2 - Leon Goretzka receives the ball and turns into space, to play the ball wide right.
Figure 2.3 - 4v3 favoring Real Madrid on the right-wing.

The problem is that when Bayern Munich work it wide from the build-up deep, they don’t consistently have the numbers to advance the ball. A byproduct of this is that the passing was too slow, something Thomas Tuchel mentioned in his post-match interview.

Bayern Munich’s slow automations were being outdone by Real Madrid’s killer improvisation on-the-ball.

But Real Madrid are giving them a ton of space between their first and second line. That space was something that was noted in Real Madrid’s quarter-final match against Manchester City.

Figure 3.1 - Konrad Laimer as the single pivot for Bayern Munich with massive amounts of space between Real Madrid's first and second line.
Figure 3.2 - Jamal Musiala inverts as Raphaël Guerreiro pushes forward, when Konrad Laimer carries forward.

The change in the second half changed the game for Bayern Munich.

They had to strike a delicate balance to not leave Kim Min-Jae and Eric Dier too vulnerable against the Real Madrid front three of Vinicius Junior, Jude Bellingham, and Rodrygo; but they need more numbers forward to speed up the passing with runs in the channels to take advantage of that space between Real Madrid’s first and second line.

They didn’t need two players in a double pivot in that space. It wasn’t productive enough in attack. You turn, and the other pivot player is behind the ball. The space is massive, they don’t need to combine. They could be more useful further forward on the wing.

Thomas Tuchel first switched Leroy Sané to the right-wing and Jamal Musiala to the left-wing. Then he brought on Raphaël Guerreiro for Goretzka, and he left Konrad Laimer to play as the single pivot. Guerreiro moved to the left-wing, which allowed Musiala to invert into the left half-space.

Play the ball into Laimer, allow Real Madrid to jump to him, the space opens in the half-spaces in-front of Real Madrid’s back-line, and then switch the ball from the half-space or attack from the wide areas.

Bayern Munich now always had their players attacking space ahead when the ball was played wide. That made it easier for them to quickly connect and drive into the box.

Figure 4.1 - Pass to Konrad Laimer our of the overload on the left-wing.
Figure 4.2 - Konrad Laimer switches to Leroy Sané.
Figure 4.3 - Leroy Sané receives the ball and two Bayern Munich players make dummy runs forward.
Figure 4.4 - Leroy Sané shoots and scores.

Now Bayern Munich allocate all their players to the back-line and front-line, with Laimer as the middle man. That space was accentuated by Real Madrid’s lack of fitness as the match wore on, as Carlo Anchelotti explained after the match:

Jude Bellingham was not at the best level tonight, but same for the entire team. Bellingham got cramps after 60 mins so I had to sub him off.

Take advantage of their tired legs, immediately overload to isolate, and then quickly attack the box.

Figure 5.1 - Kim Min-Jae passes to Thomas Müller.
Figure 5.2 - Thomas Müller switches to Jamal Musiala.

Thomas Tuchel loves these quick combination plays on one side of the pitch to play a half-space switch. That’s how both of Bayern Munich’s goals were created; the switch to Leroy Sané from the left half-space and the switch to Jamal Musiala from the right half-space.

I thought Real Madrid were the more likely to score, they had the better individual quality, so deadly, but that small switch from Tuchel was smart.

Tuchel gave Real Madrid a taste of their own medicine; an attack paired with incredible switching power, and the highest individual quality in terms of how to maintain the tempo on the counter attack. The technical execution on the counter attack is simple without delay.

Match: Bayern Munich 2-2 Real Madrid, 30 April 2024

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