Analysis: FC Bayern Munich – Hertha BSC 3-0 (1-0)

The top match of the fourth match-day. First against second place. Munich against Berlin. It became a demonstration of power by Bayern. Author: Steffen • Translator:

Carlo Ancelotti decided to field his currently strongest starting XI and changed five positions after the shaky performance against Ingolstadt. Alaba, Boateng, Lahm, Müller and Thiago came on for Coman, Kimmich, Rafinha, Renato Sanches (bench) and Juan Bernat (stands).

Berlin’s coach Pal Dardai changed on two positions: Allan and Esswein started instead of Darida (LCL) and Skjelbred (bench).

Bayern - Hertha BSC, AufstellungFC Bayern Munich vs. Hertha BSC, 21.09.2016, starting formations.

3 things we noticed

1. Structure, finally

After the two shaky performances against Ingolstadt and Schalke there was lots of discussion about the lack of structure and the high error rate in Bayern’s build-up play. This trend did not continue at all against Hertha BSC. It was remarkable how clear the structures were in Bayern’s build-up play despite the heavy rotation after the game last weekend.

Bayern acted with a clear plan and comprehensible routines and so took control of the game from the get-go. Thiago (right) and Alonso (left) played in the number 8 positions as offensive central midfielders, but they dropped back and moved to the wings to escape Hertha’s the midfield pressing. They positioned themselves next to Alonso and the central defenders almost like full-backs.

What sounds cumbersome and not effective was in fact exactly that against Hertha, effective. Before the game Dardai mentioned not to aim at playing beautifully and so his team was set-up to look for loose balls and pressing opportunities just inside their own half around the centre circle. Bayern simply didn’t move the ball into these areas, but used triangles with the full-backs that pushed up the field. Or they had Alonso, Boateng and Vidal kick the ball directly into the last line. As a result Dardai’s inclusion of the aggressive ball conqueror Allan in the starting XI was ineffective.

On the offensive wings the familiar patterns were used in which the inverse wingers Müller and Ribery created further triangles with Lahm, Alaba and the advancing Thiago or Vidal. The possession game benefited from these clear structures. The passing accuracy was above the 90% mark. Hertha only managed to create one chance after a misplaced pass, in the 60th minute. Other than that the praised transitional game of Dardai’s team was rendered useless due to the missing ball recoveries by Hertha.

The counter-pressing was also slightly improved. Even though the deep positioning of the midfielders did create some problems in the beginning. Still, the clear structures and the clear passing patterns against Hertha were a big step into the right direction.

2. Boateng with a decent comeback as a starter

The upcoming weeks and probably the whole season will feature an exciting battle for the two central defender positions at Bayern. Jerome Boateng had his first start after his injury in the EURO-semi-final.

From the beginning Boateng took over the role as the long-range build-up player and after 15 minutes already played more long balls than Martinez and Hummels had on average in their last games (5). Until his substitution he upped this number to 13. He found a teammate ten times. It was striking to see how well the build-up play was in sync between Martinez and Boateng, despite their limited time together so far in a back four. They were also totally in control defensively. Both won around 70% of their tackles, which they barely got into due to their positioning and their early moving out of the line.

Defence is Bayern’s big asset this season. There is only one reason that can prevent any combination of the three centre backs from playing a dominant season: injuries.

3. Just like 2010

Bayern Munich wins and Robben and Ribery are scoring the goals. Just like 2010. Or 2011. Or 2012. Or 2013. Even though both shared the pitch only for a couple of minutes – the first time since the May 5th 2016 – one could easily get the idea how their one-two-punch can even be effective despite their age.

Ribery benefited a lot from his central positioning, because the way to the goal is more direct and he is less dependent on his explosive speed compared to him starting from the side-line. His combinational play with Alaba is still excellent and his feeling for the right action in the penalty area is coming back. One goal. Five key passes. Three successful dribbles. A strong stat line for 70 minutes.

Robben comes on for Mueller (Photo: Alexander Hassenstein / Bongarts / Getty Images)
Robben comes on for Müller.
(Photo: Alexander Hassenstein / Bongarts / Getty Images)

And then there was also Arjen Robben, who just did what he always does after he came into the game. It would not be wise to get too carried away, when it comes to Arjen Robben. The set-backs were too big and the list of injuries too long. We’ll just leave it at that:

3.1 Arjen <3

FC Bayern Munich – Hertha BSC 3-0 (1-0)
FC Bayern MunichNeuer – Lahm, Boateng (63. Hummels), Martínez, Alaba – Xabi Alonso – Vidal, Thiago – Müller (65. Robben), Lewandowski, Ribéry (77. Coman)
BenchUlreich – Bernat, Sanches, Kimmich
Hertha BSCJarstein – Pekarik, Langkamp, Stark, Plattenhardt – Lustenberger – Weiser (84. Allagui), Allan – Esswein (59. Stocker), Haraguchi – Ibisevic (59. Schieber)
BenchKraft – Skjelbred, Kurt, Hegeler
Goals1-0 Ribéry (16.), 2-0 Thiago (68.), 3-0 Robben (72.)
CardsVidal / –
RefereeMarco Fritz (Korb)
Attendance75,000 (sold out)

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