3 Things We Noticed: FC Bayern – FC Schalke 04 3:0 (3:0)

Four days after the 8-0 win against Hamburg, FC Bayern advanced into the DFB Cup’s semi-final with a convincing performance against Schalke 04. This was mostly due to Franck Ribéry, who surprised in a new role. Author: Christopher • Translator: Bettina

Four weeks after the 1-1 in the Bundesliga, Schalke and Bayern clashed swords again in the Allianz Arena. Back then, Bayern lacked creativity in midfield to create chances – that was different this time.

FC Bayern vs SchalkeFC Bayern Munich – FC Schalke 04, 01/03/2017, basic formations.

3 Things we noticed

1. Learning curve

One of the two coaches learned his lesson after the 1-1 Bundesliga draw – it wasn’t Weinzierl. While Bayern’s passive approach had been an issue in the previous game, they switched gears this time and attacked early and high up the field. This way, they managed to conceal structural issues in midfield. Schalke’s quick players, Goretzka and Stambouli, had no impact whatsoever – after all, Bayern won lots of balls in their attacking third. The 1-0 was a symbol of that change in style, with a ball won deep in midfield kicking off the attack that lead to the goal.

At the same time, as so many times before, Thiago was vital to Bayern’s game, who made Schalke’s pressing efforts look harmless, which in turn lead to good counterattacking opportunities for Bayern. Alaba managed to go forward a couple of times that way, after Schöpf was too aggressive in pressing. In the end, while Bayern didn’t have a significantly increased number of shots on goal, the chances they did have were much better. The first seven shots on goal turned into three goals.

2. Ribéry in half-space

Carlo Ancelotti has been experimenting with wingers moving into the half-spaces all season, with Franck Ribéry the most obvious candidate in the game against Schalke – highly successfully. His positioning forced Schöpf to move inwards and confused Höwedes, messing up the order within Schalke’s team. This helped Ribéry create plenty of chances; the 1-0 via a won ball and assist in central midfield, the 2-0 with another long ball, the 3-0 with a move from the centre to the left.

Focusing on the centre was a smart move by Ancelotti to downplay Ribéry’s lack of speed, and at the same time prevented the need for dribblings against several opposing players on the wing.

Ribéry’s passing rate of 85% in the first 45 minutes was fantastic for an offensive player, and until he was subbed off, he won 50% of his one-to-ones, assisting four of Bayern’s nine shots on goal.

Ribéry and Lewandowski were the deciding factors. (Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Bongarts/Getty Images)
Ribéry and Lewandowski were the deciding factors.
(Photo: Alexander Hassenstein/Bongarts/Getty Images)

3. Unusual rotation

One has gotten used to Carlo Ancelotti’s rotation which, not unlike Jupp Heynckes’, is usually limited to only a few positions. In this game, Lahm and Costa got a break, and Alonso’s return facilitated a third substitution. That was it. Interestingly, Ancelotti preferred Rafinha instead of Joshua Kimmich yet again. Kimmich, who had been praised by Karl-Heinz Rummenigge recently as Lahm’s designated successor, doesn’t often get a chance to show himself. Especially because of that, the line-up against Schalke didn’t make a lot of sense, especially since Rafinha himself is in the final act of his career, too.

Ancelotti is a coach who is very much focused on the “here and now” – not the future. In recent games, this attitude has proven to be ideal. FC Bayern is still in a very good positions in all three competitions.

FC Bayern – FC Schalke 04 3-0 (3-0)
FC BayernNeuer – Rafinha, Martínez, Hummels (46. Bernat), Alaba – Alonso, Vidal (76. Kimmich) – Robben, Thiago, Ribéry (67. Coman) – Lewandowski
BenchUlreich, Costa, Lahm, Müller
FC Schalke 04Fährmann – Höwedes, Badstuber, Nastasic – Stambouli – Schöpf, Goretzka, Bentaleb, Kolasinac (60. Kehrer) – Meyer (46. Caligiuri), Burgstaller (79. Choupo-Moting)
BenchNübel, Geis, Aogo, Huntelaar
Goals1:0 Lewandowski (3.), 2:0 Thiago (16.), 3:0 Lewandowski (29.)
CardsYellow: Ribéry / Badstuber, Red: – / Badstuber (77., repeated fouls)
RefereeDaniel Siebert (Berlin)
Attendance75.000 (sold out)

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