In Part 1 of this article I outlined aspects of our play that need to be improved upon and one aspect that needed to be implemented which is counter-attacking. In this part I will talk much more analytically and attempt to combine all the above points into one hopefully impressive tactical system.
Mourinho is disliked for the type of football he propagates within all the clubs he touches however there is one undeniable truth and that is that he is truly one of the best tacticians in football today. The mantra I am referring to is his ability to create game-plans for a single match that have multiple stages that build upon each other.
This process of going from stage one to stage two is sometimes caused by a clever substitution but often it is simply a tactical reshuffle among the players. The jump from stage two to stage three is always the result of substitutions.
Heynckes is no layman when it comes to tactical astuteness; this is noticeable with the extremely risky substitutions and formation changes he makes when Bayern Munich are behind (literally throwing everyone forward). However, I feel unlike Mourinho there is no staged process in the tactics, there is plan A – The FC Bayern Way, and a stage two of plan A if everything is going correct i.e. Bayern score early goals are winning comfortably therefore we slow down the pace to rest our players for the midweek Champions League match etc. Otherwise, there is simply plan B – The emergency situation which usually has to do with subbing out defenders for attackers and throwing as many people forward as possible, in situations when we are down to 10men it often results in us utilizing a 3-man defense.
In my opinion, Robbery alone provide such an exceptional foundation to build staged game plans upon that it is a wasted opportunity from Heynckes not to utilize them in this fashion. Unlike Madrid, FC Bayern’s bench is not as strong to allow for the staged process to be completely dependent on substitutions but also unlike Madrid, the amount of danger from the wings that Robbery provides is second to none.
When any match first starts out the two coaches observe each others tactics for the first fifteen odd minutes before adjusting their team appropriately to counter each other. Once the players are in some form of tactical defensive or offensive rhythm it is difficult for them to quickly change from that.
I believe that Stage 1 of our tactical plan should absolutely LIMIT Robbery from making their usual dribbling mazy runs unless absolutely necessary (once or twice when they beat the defender or in a counter attack). Instead they should be psyching out the opponents defenders to become wary of our impressive centre and our dangerous CF. What this means is that:
- Stop distributing from defense to wings, instead do it from the center.
- Robbery needs to attempt to do 1-2’s with Kroos and Schweinsteiger or attempt to pass back to Lahm/Rafinha who can then immediately lay it off to Kroos/Schweinsteiger.
- Kroos and Schweinsteiger need to CONSTANTLY take long shots at goal more often than attempting to pass it to Müller or Gomez.
- Robbery need to also keep throwing early crosses into the box for the opponents to worry about the threat that Gomez possesses. Note: Key is early crosses, i.e. receive-one-touch-cross. Not beat the defender – get to the corner flag – cross.
Moving on to Stage 2. Stage 2 is very similar to what Bayern play like currently but all the trouble that 10man defense or counter attacking teams give us would be negated. What does this slight limitation on Robbery’s play in Stage 1 provide the team in the long run of the match? Here are the answers:
- Defenders become more worried about stopping Robbery’s distribution to the center therefore they start making intercepting runs instead of covering on TOP of Robbery which means there is less pressure on Robbery, less double-teaming which means they have much more space to work their magic with later on.
- The constant pressure from Kroos and Schweinsteigers long shots will draw defenders out to cover them which means that later on Kroos or Schweinsteiger can simply lay the ball off to Müller/Gomez or Robbery who would be making indirect runs towards the centre. This results in easy goals without worrying about the off-side traps or multiple defenders on our key goal threats.
- The constant goal-threat although means that we will turnover possession more (if shots go awry) it also means that there is a greater chance of scoring from set-pieces in the form of a constant supply of corners.
- Early crosses into Gomez that he is able to partially connect with on a few occasions would again stretch the defenders apart making them worried about being on Gomez thus indirectly spoiling their offside trap and again creating space in the center for Müller/Kroos and Schweinsteiger to work.
This means that Bayern Munich simply does not play one way (Stage 2 way) from the beginning which in my opinion is still a heavy possession based LVG style with high dependence on the wings.
I believe the early, less possession more direct-attacking play-style will open up so many possibilities for Bayern that defenders simply won’t have answers to it. Yes, this high rate of possession turnover leaves us open for counter-attacks but what did we pay so much for Neuer and Boateng? They should be able to handle counter-attacks. Even if we do get conceded upon we should be able to outscore the opponents with this two-staged attack.
The last stage would always be scenario specific, depending on the score Heynckes could employ defensive rigidity, counter-attacking or all out offensive (highly unlikely). This just means that we can do a lot of damage without depending on our bench players as much.
Scenario One – Comfortable 2-0, 3-1, lead
Subbing in Olić/Gustavo/Tymoshchuk/Alaba for Robben/Ribéry/Müller/Kroos/Gomez means that we become more solid defensively, rest our key attackers and also slow down the pace and play possession based.
Scenario Two – A 1-0 or 2-1 lead against dangerous opponents
In this scenario only subbing in Gustavo/Tymoshchuk for Kroos should be done. As we would still need Robben/Ribéry/Müller to break and kill the game off on counter-attacks by looking for that elusive second goal.
Scenario Three – A 0-1 or 0-2 loss
Switch to a 3-man defense of Boateng-Badstuber and Lahm, sub in Alaba and Olić for Müller/Rafinha and go all out offensive.
I hope that Bayern Munich implements a somewhat similar multiple staged attack which involves all of our midfielders and strikers. Currently, we are far too dependent on the wings and are under-utilizing our CM’s. We need to play from the center as much as we play from the wings, we need to play direct as often as we play possession based. We need to play counter-attacking football to utilize our pace. Bayern needs to remember that although Gomez has evolved heaps and bounds technically and is now able to score goals with his back to the goal or under tonnes of pressure he made his name at Stuttgart for being an exceptional counter-attacking striker. This would also play to his strengths.
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