Four Things We Noticed
1. Bayern like the away team
It has been a long time since Bavaria’s tactical approach was as interesting as it was on Tuesday evening against Paris. Heynckes had analyzed the mistakes from the first leg and tried to fix them. At that time, the Munich team adopted a dominant approach which, due to structural weaknesses, resulted in a comparison of individual quality. The five-time Champions League winner simply lost it.
Heynckes gave PSG more possession this time. According to the box score Bayern only had 47% of the ball. This time the Reds interpreted the otherwise very offensive 4-1-4-1 as altogether deeper and only in certain situations high. The primary goal was to control the center without the ball. Tolisso, Rudy and James often created a flat three, sometimes also the typical 1-2 staggering with Rudy as a clear number six.
The distances were very narrow and so they managed to force Paris onto the wings. The midfield pressing only became a situation-oriented form of raid-like attack pressing, in order not to allow Paris to take complete control. These rhythm changes were carried out very precisely and convincingly by the Bayern team.
On the chalk lines, the two wingers Coman and Ribéry did an incredible amount of defensive work. Coman in particular moved so deep against Neymar that a back five was created. Ribéry neglected his defensive duties at first, which is why Mbappé had the first big chances of the game. After about 15 minutes, however, he also recognised the need to support Alaba.
The role of the number eighths was also important. While PSG was forced towards the wings, the ball-near eight supported the two outside players. In comparison to the first leg, this always resulted in situations of superior numbers against the opponent’s key players.
After winning the ball, Bayern managed to play their speed cleverly. There were not many longer ball circulations. Most of the time, the Reds were looking for a direct way forward. Heynckes’ tactics were successful not least because his team was incredibly effective. Great opportunities were immediately explored.
Paris, on the other hand, missed several good chances. Against players like Neymar and Co. not all chances can be avoided, but it also turned out that the Bavarian defence was occasionally too passive and undisciplined in spite of the compact staggering. For example, for the 2-1 the compactness and staggering were completely missing.
Paris knew how to make use of this and then repeatedly played their way between the lines of Bayern and then into the half-spaces, where Neymar and Mbappé could hardly be stopped. However, Hummels (73% duel rate) and Süle (100% duel rate) were able to stop many attacks at the very last moment. Ulreich was also convincing again.
The longer the game lasted, the more often these gaps were created. Tactical deficits were then concealed with great legwork and passion or with a bit of luck. This more passive approach was somewhat surprising for Paris as well. The plan will not always work like this, but it worked out very well on Tuesday evening. At this point you can only pull the hat for Heynckes.
All the more so because Bayern had to do without Neuer, a Boateng in form, Thiago and Robben. Ribéry wasn’t at 100% either. Paris, on the other hand, played with a full band. All the more reason to judge that Heynckes adapted his team to the role of the underdog and that it was a bit like the favourite. With full conviction, passion and tactical discipline that is extendable but continues to make clear progress. The second leg went to FC Bayern – Chapeau!
2. Tolisso like Schweinsteiger
If you want to single out a player, you can name Tolisso simply because of the goals. If you ignore his two goals, however, his performance was not really noticeable. Although he had a passing accuracy of 96%, these were mostly security passes. Even that he didn’t win a single duel according to the box score is somewhat sobering.
And yet the Frenchman once again showed signs of hope and development. His greatest quality is his goalscoring ability. With his ability to push unnoticed from the midfield into the box and to create an overload. He provided the prime example with his goals. This overload is reminiscent of Schweinsteiger or Vidal at his prime. His positional play is also very disciplined. On the right he supported Coman and Kimmich reliably, in the centre he held his position and thus did not open any rooms. Another positive aspect was that he didn’t have any simple turnovers in his game under pressure.
All in all, Tolisso is a player who doesn’t fit into the profile of a ball possession team. But that is no different with Vidal under Guardiola and the Chilean became an important player. The same could happen with Tolisso. The Frenchman brings some qualities into the game that Bayern lacks. He is currently the better Vidal and therefore the better compromise for Heynckes. His safeguarding role on the half right with the freedom occasionally pushing forward is optimal for him.
There is still a lot of catching up to do, but his position play and discipline make sure that Tolisso with and against the ball is actually the better option compared to Vidal. Both have scored frequently recently. If you don’t take that into account, you have to question whether two players of this kind are necessary and if you have to make a decision for one of them, Tolisso would probably be ahead. Passion, attitude, discipline and the many good attempts make him an exciting player.
3. Coman and Ribéry – the future and the past
When Kingsley Coman initiated the 3-1 with a sensational sprint on the left sideline, it became clear to many that he might be able to live up to the expectations in Munich. However, it is rather other scenes that suggest this. That the Frenchman is fast is nothing new. With space, Coman can run away from anyone.
Much more important is that he now appears self-confident. With the trust of the trainer, he dares to do much more and goes into dribbling more often. When he had to face the internal competition, he was mainly concerned with avoiding mistakes and aborted dribblings at the last moment. On the one hand it was interpreted as game intelligence, on the other hand it didn’t produce much.
Now Coman seems incredibly brave. He knows that the system covers him through Alaba and an eight and he can again take more risk. In addition, he positions himself intelligently and likes to move into the half-spaces. From week to week his performances become safer. While Coman has long been criticized for his one-dimensional actions, he is now more versatile and creative. Especially his shooting situations are much better than in the last months and years.
Bad crosses, messed-up finishes and too late separation from the ball have been justified criticisms, which gradually diminish with the regular practice under Heynckes. It is almost impossible to stop him in this form.
Especially the comparison with Ribéry is worthwhile, who at the age of 21 was not cleaner in his actions. On the contrary: Coman is considerably further than the former Ribéry. However, the latter showed that he is still important against Paris. He initiated many attacks and helped Alaba several times at the back against Mbappé. And yet, there were those situations where it was clear that Ribéry no longer had this level of Neymar.
His speed of action has decreased just as much as his physical speed. Often he broke away from the ball too late and rarely was he able to win his dribblings. This makes it all the more important that he adapts his game, moves it to the centre more often and uses his passing game to provide FC Bayern with even more creative input. In the future, he will have to dose his dribblings in order to avoid some simple counterattacks.
4. Sebastian’s performance is rudymentary
Because it is such an important point for the next few weeks, there must be a fourth thing we noticed in this analysis. Sebastian Rudy played only three missed passes against Paris, but at least two of them were a disaster. In addition, there is a scene in which he looses the ball almost effortlessly under pressure.
Rudy is currently not on the same level as he was at the beginning of the season. Thiago’s injury could have been his best chance. That’s what they got him for. Munich’s midfielders need creativity and if Rudy had called in his best performance, this would have been a very bad evening for Paris. So it was up to James to animate the game creatively.
Rudy is now entering an important phase of the season. He has absolutely the quality to replace Thiago. He has to get it back on the pitch, precisely because the game against Paris without Thiago was still too insecure. The vulnerability to counterattacks was due to some reckless turnovers that you would not expect from players like Rudy.
|FC Bayern – Paris SG|
|FC Bayern||Ulreich – Alaba (85. Rafinha), Hummels, Süle, Kimmich – Rudy, Tolisso – Ribéry (67. Müller), James (83. Vidal), Coman – Lewandowski|
|Bench||Starke, Friedl, Boateng, Martínez|
|Paris SG||Aréola – Kurzawa, Thiago Silva (72. Kimpempe), Marquinhos, Dani Alves – Draxler (90+1. Lo Celso), Rabiot, Verratti – Neymar, Cavani, Mbappé|
|Bench||Trapp, Berchiche, Meunier, Pastore, Di María|
|Goals||1-0 Lewandowski (8.), 2-0 Tolisso (37.), 2-1 Mbappé (50.), 3-1 Tolisso (69.)|
|Cards||Yellow: Kimmich (22.), James (23.), Tolisso (41.), Rudy (54.) / Marquinho (41.), Draxler (82.)|
|Referee||Cüneyt Çakır (Turkey)|