Tactics Journal

by Kyle Boas

Analyzing football tactics

What happened to Bayern Munich vs Mainz in their 3-1 loss?

April 22, 2023 — This match against Mainz is the first of seven matches that Thomas Tuchel tinkered with the structure of Bayern Munich since becoming their manager on March 25, 2023.

Figure 1.1 - Bayern Munich 5-2-1-2

Bayern Munich switched from a 2-3-2-3 formation to a more secure 3-5-2 in possession. The wing-backs Alphonso Davies and Joao Cancelo venture forward up the wing providing the width and attacking threat out wide.

Why is it more secure? It’s more secure because the three center-backs remain in the rest defense, outnumbering Mainz’s two center-forwards. The space behind the left-back and right-back was far too exposed in the 2-3 structure.

What happened? Why did they concede three goals?

Mainz 1-1 Bayern Munich

The first Mainz goal was a bit of a jammy play.

  • Free kick on the left side from about 40 yards out lofted into the box. The ball fumbles around
  • The ball falls to Jae-Sung Lee from 12 yards out, a hard shot, and Yann Sommer saves clumsily
  • The ball then pops up in the air to Ludovic Ajorque for the headed goal from 2 yards out

That one you can look past, that’s football. Unexpected things happen when you swing a vertical ball into the box.

Mainz 2-1 Bayern Munich

Watch Joao Cancelo on this play closely. He tended to show little awareness defensively and showed the same during this sequence.

Figure 2.1 - Mainz goalkeeper Robin Zenter takes the free-kick and kicks it upfield to the forwards
Figure 2.2 - Ajorque heads the ball past Upamecano to Onisiwo
Figure 2.3 - Onisiwo wins his header over Stansic and passes to Leandro Barreiro for the goal

Both Dayot Upamecano and Josip Stanisic lose physical aerial 50-50s. De Ligt goes out to challenge Onisiwo, making the space between him and Cancelo massive, giving Barreiro an easy route into the box in space for the goal.

Bayern Munich’s structure was compromised the second Upamecano didn’t win the header. The three center-backs are close and compact, while the wing-backs remain higher and uninvolved once all three center-backs commit to one side, a vast space forms on the far side.

Mainz 3-1 Bayern Munich

Instead of being higher up the pitch, the wing-backs are now further back, and the back-line of five is more compact, which is an improvement.

Figure 3.1 - Cross into the box from Widmer
Figure 3.2 - Mazraoui challenges the ball carrier leaving Caricol free. The ball is passed to Hanche-Olsen
Figure 3.3 - Andreas Hanche-Olsen passes to Aaron Caricol

Noussair Mazraoui, who has recently complained that he hasn’t been getting as much playing time, wandered too far inside leaving Aaron Caricol free on the far side of the box behind him. An unnecessary risk with the numbers Bayern had surrounding the ball carrier.

Figure 3.4 - Caricol shot to the bottom right corner across goal for Mainz’s third goal

An incredible shot from Caricol puts Bayern Munich second in the table behind Borussia Dortmund, who won 4-0 against Frankfurt today.

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