“Let’s keep it close this time” – that’s what Hamburg had planned prior to their annual horror trip to Munich. It was a plan that didn’t sound that crazy, as recent weeks showed a confident HSV. Yet, once again, it wasn’t meant to be for the Northerners.
Three things we noticed
1. 4 + Thiago
To be frank: the 8-0 win over Hamburg was, not due to the result, by far the best Bundesliga performance Bayern have shown in 2017. Offensively, it might just have been the best match of the season. Again and again did Bayern manage to enter the opposing box, overloading both wings and putting pressure on Hamburg’s defense with up to five attackers. In addition to that, there was great variability in attack. Dribbles by Costa (2) and Robben (9), overlapping runs by Lahm and Alaba, direct attacking through the center by the ever-reliable Thiago and Hummels – there were many paths leading into Hamburg’s box. Anyone watching this match must’ve wondered how this team could possibly perform like they did against Darmstadt, Wolfsburg or Hertha.
One major difference compared to previous weeks was the lineup. Ancelotti decided against the usual third central midfielder, fielding four true attackers instead. This idea had already worked well against Mainz (3-1) and Wolfsburg (5-0). During the Guardiola era, I came up with the term “lineup of death”, drawing parallels to the Golden State Warriors. Said term meant a certain lineup with five attacking players – its stats were brutally impressive. While Ancelotti didn’t go for such an extreme formation, today’s 4+Thiago version of the lineup of death looked promising as well. The passing patterns of recent matches made it obvious that the passing paths become overly complicated with Alonso or Kimmich being fielded with Vidal and Thiago. The Bayern game often became too horizontal and less direct far too early. This issue wasn’t visible against Hamburg.
8 goals, 18 shots, 19 successful dribbles, 90% passing accuracy, 124 successful passes inside the attacking third – those are the numbers for Bayern’s onslaught.
Of course, the highly offensive-minded formation and the positioning of the four attackers cause potential problems in defensive transitioning. That being said, the midfield pairing of Thiago and Vidal is capable of reducing that structural weakness. Another thing that became obvious against Hamburg was how the system forced Martinez and Hummels to actively push forward and protect the area surrounding Vidal. This worked out well.
Maybe Ancelotti has finally found a method to be more dominant and dangerous against technically inferior Bundesliga teams. The 4+Thiago formula could be a reoccuring theme of upcoming weeks. It certainly should, after all which Bundesliga team is capable of preventing conceding two or more goals against such attacking fire power?
2. Müller helps
Thomas Müller’s performances are analyzed through a magnifying glass these days. Potential doubts over his qualities surely have disappeared again, following today’s performance. Müller again didn’t score, in fact he didn’t even take a shot on target. Nevertheless, he was Bayern’s man of the match. Müller helped everyone around him – not just because of his three assists.
His movements in central areas, the constant confusion caused by his runs – all that created more space for his teammates to act. It was Arturo Vidal in particular who benefitted from this, as the Chilean midfielder was repeatedly allowed to enter the opposing box unmarked, with Müller drawing defenders towards him instead. That Lewandowski too is helped by Müller’s movements is hardly breaking news.
It was obvious that the German international felt a lot more confident with all this fire power around him. That support allowed him to focus on being the supporting act, the creator and exploiter of space, instead of having to be the focal point himself.
Five key passes are quite the number. Müller still is Müller. As long as circumstances are right.
3. Hi Kingsley!
Prior to this match, Kingsley Coman had taken only six shots in this Bundesliga campaign. No goals, no assists was his sad statline in an injury-ridden season. Bayern were missing Coman’s qualities as change-of-pace sub and as a motivation for the regulars. So it’s more than just a side note that the explosive Frenchman has finally showed up, scoring twice as a sub against Hamburg.
His goal threat is a huge advantage over Douglas Costa, his dribbling and power in attack are well-documented. The 8-0 victory over Hamburg gave Coman the first real opportunity to show Ancelotti that he’s a serious option. More to come – if Kingsley Coman manages to stay fit and gets more playing time.
|FC Bayern – Hamburger SV 8:0 (3:0)|
|FC Bayern||Neuer – Lahm (67. Rafinha), Martínez, Hummels, Alaba – Thiago (60. Coman), Vidal – Robben, Müller, Costa – Lewandowski (57. Sanches)|
|Subs||Ulreich, Ribéry, Rafinha, Bernat, Kimmich|
|Hamburger SV||Adler – Sakai, Djourou, Mavraj, Douglas Santos – Wallace, Jung – N. Müller (62. Hunt), Holtby, Kostic (72. Waldschmidt) – Gregoritsch (60. Ekdal)|
|Subs||Mickel, Diekmeier, Ostrzolek, Wood|
|Goals||1:0 Vidal (17.), 2:0 Lewandowski (24., penalty), 3:0 Lewandowski (42.), 4:0 Lewandowski (54.), 5:0 Alaba (56.), 6:0 Coman (65.), 7:0 Coman (69.), 8:0 Robben (87.)|
|Cards||– / Douglas Santos|
|Referee||Bastian Dankert (Rostock)|
|Attendance||75.000 (sold out)|