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Match analysis: Bayern - Barcelona

Match analysis: Bayern Munich - Barcelona

Early equalizer made it easy for Barca

By Athanasios Terzis

After defeating Bayern in the first leg by 3-0, Barca had a rather easy job to do in the second leg. Benatia’s goal scored in the 7th minute added some excitement to the game. However Neymar ended it soon after scoring the equalizer a few minutes later. 

FORMATIONS

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1st Half: Bayern started with an early goal but quality and mistakes gave Barca the lead

Bayern: Bayern started with a 4-3-1-2 formation. This was the plan B of Guardiola during the first leg. Despite the fact that there were the same first eleven, there were some changes in the players’ positioning. Muller was placed on top of the rhombus shape while Schweinsteiger and Tiago on the left and right respectively. Alonso was the defensive midfielder. Lewandowski was one of the forwards and surprisingly Lahm was the other. The German international was placed in an advanced position on the right and within the zone of responsibility of Alba. Benatia was the left central defender while Boateng was the right one. Bernat was on the left and Rafinha on the right. Guardiola placed Benatia on the left to mark Messi and avoid 1 v 1 situations between the Argentine and the stronger but slower Boateng, like the one that took place during Messi’s 2nd goal in Camp Nou.    

Barcelona: Barcelona also started with the same first eleven as they did in the first leg. Their formation was the usual 4-3-3.

As regards the match up between the two, Bayern retained a numerical advantage in midfielder with 4 v 3, while at the back they had also a spare player with 4 v 3. Barcelona retained a 4 v 2 at the back.

 

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Right from the start, Bayern tried to take control by applying pressing and holding possession. In order to achieve the first aim Bayern players were high up and many times Ter Stegen was forced to use long balls. Lewandowski was on Pique, while Lahm was between Mascerano and Alba. Guardiola gave more time on the ball to the Argentine, while as soon as the most technically skilled Pique received, he was immediately put under pressure by the Polish forward. 

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Bayern dealt with Alves with alternative options during pressing. When Barca’s right fullback was in an advanced position, most of the time Bernat moved to close him down. However when Alves was in a low position, Schweinsteiger moved close to him. The key player was Alonso, who had to adjust his positioning accordingly. When Bernat moved forward, he dropped back close to the defenders to fill any potential gap in the defensive line as well as to create numbers up. 

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On the other hand when Schweinsteiger moved to close down Alves, the Spanish midfielder shifted in a form of chain reaction to mark Rakitic who was left free by Schweinsteiger. 

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This reaction was also carried out in non-pressing situations with Alonso being the safety player. During the attacking phase the home side tried to take advantage of the numerical superiority at the back as well as the one in midfield in order to build up from the back and move the ball forward. Alonso was most of the time free of marking, while many times Tiago dropped also back to provide help. This created a square in midfield as Muller shifted towards the right and Schweinsteiger moved in more advanced position on the left. These two players tried to take advantage of the spaces between the lines and right and left of Busquets.

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Furthermore Rafinha (as it is also shown on the picture above), several times converged towards the inside to provide an extra passing option either lower in the field or between the lines. 

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During building up Bayern tried to bring several players between the lines, (at least two midfielders) with two aims: a) either of receiving and turning with the ball, as Schweinsteiger did in 13th minute and then took a shot on goal

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or, b) in cases that the ball was directly passed towards the forwards, the midfielders tried to provide quickly support to them in order to receive the back pass and then take a shot or a killer pass, as Muller did after the pass towards Lahm. 

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Barcelona on the other hand didn’t show much will to press high but they waited, mainly within the middle third or even lower, for the opponents to come. Their formation most of the time looked like 4-5-1 as Busquets was almost along in the same line with Rakitic and Iniesta. 

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This was probably done in order to be close to the free player Alonso and put him under pressure as the defensive midfielder of Bayern used to take up positions either in the centre or towards the left (when Tiago dropped back). 

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In cases that Alonso was on the left Rakitic stepped forward to put him under pressure. However there were times that Suarez dropped back to put Alonso in his shadow and prevent the direct pass towards him by the defenders.

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Barcelona’s midfield line tried to maintain cohesion and create a compact block with the defenders. By maintaining cohesion they tried to prevent the through balls towards the players between the lines, whereas by retaining short distance between them and the defenders, they were able to drop quickly back and close down the player who received the potential through pass. During the attacking phase Barca took advantage of the 2 v 1 on the left in order to build up from the back and then tried to move the ball to Alves on the other side to exploit the lack of width of Bayern’s 4-3-1-2 formation. 

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Then their aim was to take advantage of the spaces created due to Bernat’s advanced position as Bayern’s defence was stretched. This was something that Bayern attempted to do during the first leg, when they tried to drag Alves out of position. This was carried out with success several times with well timed runs made by Rakitic.

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Rakitic missed a great scoring chance early in the game after an excellent pass by Alves despite the fact that Alonso tried to compensate for Bernat’s advanced position.

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The early goal from Benatia after a corner kick added excitement to the game, but the equalizer came soon and Bayern players realized that qualifying against the Catalans was rather impossible. Specifically, Bayern tried to stay compact by maintaining a high defensive line, but Suarez used a well timed run and despite the fact that the passing lane was narrow enough, Messi found the way to make a quality pass towards the path of Suarez. The last one moved forward and at the right time made the square pass to Neymar who scored an easy goal.

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The second goal came after Benatia’s bad judgment, as he moved to close Messi down after the long ball by Mascherano, despite the fact that both Bernat and Boateng, were away from providing cover. This reaction left Suarez unmarked and the header from the Argentine directed the ball towards his path. Suarez did what he had done during the first goal. He moved forward and at the right time made the square pass to Neymar who had again an easy job to do. 

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After being one goal down Bayern put more pressure around the box and missed three chances to score the equalizer. However the score remained the same after the half time whistle.

 

 

2nd Half: Barcelona lacked motivation but Bayern didn’t

 

Guardiola started the second half by making some switching in positions without changing the formation. Muller was placed in a forward’s position on the right and Lahm who didn’t have much contribution during the first as a forward, was placed on the right side in midfield. Tiago was moved on the left and Schweinsteiger was on top of the rhombus shape. However this was a rather fluid formation as the players switched positions frequently.  

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Bayern’s aim was to put more pressure up front. So Schweinsteiger many times move forward to put pressure on Mascherano and compensate for the 2 v 1, while the other midfielders moved in a form of a chain reaction to leave no potential receiver free of marking. 

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On the other hand, Enrique changed Suarez with Pedro and put Messi on top, while Pedro was on the right. As Alonso, during the building up, dropped several times at the back to create a three man defence, Iniesta moved forward to compensate for it and the formation of Barca looked like a 4-4-2.  

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Going back to Bayern’s pressing application Schweinsteiger’s moving to close down Mascherano resulted more pressure for Bayern and Barca was forced to long balls. Bayern not only pressed high but also were excellent in negative transition. This fact enabled them to have more possession and put more pressure around Barca’s box. They managed to score their second when Lewandwski received the ball outside the box in a quick quick positive transition and after a successful 1 v 1 against Mascherano, took an accurate shot. Guardiola switched Lahm with Rode but this didn’t change things as regards tactics. Bayern continued to dominate and creating chances. Fifteen minutes later Muller made it 3-2. Just before the winning goal for Bayern, Enrique had changed Rakitic with Mathieu and switched to a more defensive minded 4-1-4-1 with Mascerano between the lines and Pedro on top.   

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Bayern during second half was very good in supporting the forwards and had several shots on goal. 

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During the same period Barcelona lacked motivation and despite that they had available spaces to take advantage of, they managed to make only one shot.

Conclusion: Neymar’s early equalizer ended the game soon. Bayern was better in supporting the forwards than in the first leg and in conjunction with retaining possession in midfield, helped them create several scoring chances. However the quality of Barca three forwards (1st goal) and the mistakes by Bayern defenders (Benatia 2nd goal), relieved the pressure from Benatia’s goal in the 7th minute. After this Barca didn’t have motivation while Bayern players put more effort and finally managed to win.  

 

Last Updated on Saturday, 16 May 2015 15:42

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