The force that is Bayern Munich looks unstoppable since the appointment of Hansi Flick, but their counterparts (Barcelona) during the UEFA Champions League semi-final failed to turn up.
It was no surprise the German powerhouse club was going to be favoured given their recent performances respectively, but nobody would’ve predicted an 8-2 final winning score for Bayern.
Let’s analyse the reasons behind Barcelona’s collapse with a look into each manager’s tactical influences and player performances.
Barcelona –The same line-up that led Barcelona into the quarter-final of the champion’s league was for some reason abandoned; Quique Setien had different ideas for his team and opted with a flat 4-4-2 formation over the original 4-3-3. Antoine Griezmann and Ivan Rakitic were replaced in the starting line-up for Sergio Busquets and Arturo Vidal.
Next season should be a new beginning for Barca.
The changes we want in Barca
• The dismissal of Quique Setién.
• Bartomeu’s resignation.
• Cleaning in the locker room. pic.twitter.com/WTqBmSoPFf
— JayWon (@Jaytex2) August 15, 2020
Bayern Munich – Flick decided to keep a familiar formation and starting line-up, one that had succeeded versus English side Chelsea in the 2nd leg of round sixteen.
Bayern elected for a high 4-4-2 press, 4-1-4-1 and a 4-2-3-1 form dependant on their opponent’s on-pitch decisions.
Barcelona’s failed approach
Barcelona wanted to play out from the back, starting with Ter Stegen, from the goal-kick the fullbacks would position their bodies inside the box while the fullbacks pushed high. Bayern, more than ready to press usually had men stationed just outside the box with their backline pushed extremely high. Bayern used this highline with a few factors in place.
Firstly, Barca had zero aerial positions and targets with Suarez only winning one aerial clash. This, compiled with the combined lack of speed in their attacking areas didn’t end well. Couple this with Kimmich, Davies and Alaba all having the confidence to recover any over the top balls they were ready to push high. Bayern’s pressing mechanism was varied, but they generally were willing to sell the extra midfielder high to cut off the option for Barca into Busquets.
The impressive formations came from open play; Bayern used a high 4-4-2 press, usually with Müller alongside Lewandowski which did vary. Lewandowski would often drop back into midfield onto Busquets to stop the central progression while the wingers worked narrower ready to surprise the press on the centre backs. Barca failed to work the ball wide to the fullbacks and played it back to Ter Stegen. Lewandowski would press using his cover shadow to keep Busquets marked and onto Ter Stegen, forcing him into bad passes – as proven in the passing accuracy statistics (Ter Stegen 71% Neuer %86). Bayern’s high press soon paid dividends with the Perisic goal.
Barcelona’s 4-4-2 was fluid and became more like a diamond at times, with Messi at the tip and Vidal pushing high almost like a forward. Bayern’s wingers ended up drawn in to defend narrowly; this, however, didn’t punish Bayern as Barca had no traditional wingers.
The Bookmakers approach
Bayern were the favourites heading into this fixture, but nobody, including the oddmakers, expected such a one-sided outing. And with that exceptional win, it’s no surprise that Bookmaker had Bayern Munich as the favourites to win the final versus Paris Saint Germaine.
Bayern Munich’s successful approach
On multiple occasions Barcelona was forced to press high due to conceding goals, Bayern pushed they’re forwards high and have a high-line. Unlike Barca, Bayern had the aerial presence which they capitalised on against the high defence of Barca winning the ball midfield. When defending Barca used a flat 4-4-2 with Vidal and De Jong wide, to create the man advantage against the Barca front two it was usually Thiago dropping deep to form the back three. This had a secondary effect of allowing Alaba and Davies high up the pitch, and from here he could switch the ball to the fullback or winger as shown by five long-balls attempted and completed on the stats counter.
Having their fullbacks so high allowed the wingers to play inside the pitch so if Goretzka didn’t have the option of Thiago, then one of the wingers can drop in to provide an alternative. By having so many men between the lines, Bayern caused Barcelona an eight goal problem which will be buried in the history books forever. The front fours fluidity between Bayern was exceptional yet highly confusing for Barca, the ability for Gnabry, Müller, Perisic and Lewandowski to be able to rotate their positions at will was a master class in positioning.
Bayern used their wide regions expertly, by drawing a Barcelona fullback out of position – mainly by one versus one situation. These were facilitated by the narrow wingers and Barca’s overly tight midfield, meaning Alaba and Kimmich were often ones versus one. Lewandowski was very mobile and would move into the half-space to draw a fullback in temporary, allowing Munich to move higher up the pitch. And once in these high positions, a world of problems was created for Barca. Crosses from Kimmich came in bunches, which was starting success for Müller’s first goal.
Toni Kroos sent this message to Joshua Kimmich on WhatsApp after Barcelona 2-8 Bayern Munich pic.twitter.com/qcrAHlEJv8
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) August 19, 2020