Analysis: FC Bayern München – SV Werder Bremen 6:0 (2:0)

Christopher Separator August 26, 2016

The 2016-17 Bundesliga season has started. The opening match saw Bayern face their biggest rival of the 2000s and current favorite opponent – Werder Bremen.

After three years, the record champions started their campaign with a new coach again, as Carlo Ancelotti has replaced Pep Guardiola. Following two away matches in the Supercup and the German Cup, this was his first competitive home match at Allianz Arena.

Bayern - Bremen FormationsThe starting lineups of Bundesliga matchday 1 – Bayern vs Bremen.

3 things we noticed

1. Flexibility

While the preseason matches gave us the impression that Bayern would enter the Bundesliga season with a massive wing focus, Ancelotti chose a more flexible approach against Bremen. Ribery and Müller didn’t stick to the sidelines, an idea that caused lots of problems for Bremen. The hosts repeatedly attempted to overwhelm the Werder back-four with fast vertical attacks and chip balls into the box – as seen when Lewandowski hit the crossbar in minute 39. Alonso’s long pass created the attack and Ribery’s chip ball got them past the defense, where Lewandowski couldn’t convert the one-on-one against Wiedwald. The first two goals too were created with fast central attacks. The number of passes leading to shots have been reduced. The increased risk becomes apparent both in the slightly reduced passing accuracy and the area of action. Despite the match being a completely one-sided one, only 32% of the action took place inside the attacking third. To compare, in the last league match between these two, it was 36%.

Of course the Bavarian flexibility in offense was boosted by Bremen’s failures in tackling and positioning. The last three goals in particular were gifts, ruining a semi-tolerable result for the guests. Nevertheless, this might have been an indicator of how things will change under Ancelotti.

2. Ancelotti’s first imprint

The aforementioned pace variations surely were an apparent feature of this match. In addition to that, Bayern temporarily tried to sit back and force Bremen into possession phases – a strategy that didn’t really work out as Bremen completely refused having the ball and creating attacks. Still, Bayern’s possession remained at “only” 71%, a result of trying to attack vertically and impatiently. Another thing that caught the eye was the reduced pressing intensity. No longer did every player counter-press after turnovers, instead Bayern sometimes retreated into a 4-4-2 formation. Not that it was really needed against an opponent with such an inaccurate build-up.

The first away match at Schalke, right after the international break, could be a better pointer. It is entirely possible that Bayern play a more defensive style against that opponent.

Robert Lewandowski celebrating the 2-0. (Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Bongarts/Getty Images)
Robert Lewandowski celebrating the 2-0.
(Photo: Alexander Hassenstein / Bongarts / Getty Images)

3. Robert Lewandowski

Robert Lewandowski remains Bayern’s key player. Six goals in two matches – a sign of things to come for the Polish international? Aside from the three goals in this match, he registered two more great scoring chances that he couldn’t convert. We’ve already mentioned that his role could change slightly. Against Bremen, he drifted towards both the left flank and the half-spaces. His first goal was a prime example of that.

The Bayern striker is seemingly ready for the new season. Twelve shots, six of them on target, is an amazing number. Lewandowski should benefit from the new directness of the offense. Two hat tricks in two matches, not least because the team tries to generate lots of shots – 25 of them against Werder. He also profited from the improved form of Thomas Müller, who assisted three goals and played an additional four key passes – a similarly impressive performance.

FC Bayern Neuer – Lahm (74. Rafinha), Martínez, Hummels, Alaba (78. Bernat) – Vidal, Alonso (64. Kimmich), Thiago – Müller, Lewandowski, Ribéry
Subs Ulreich, Sanches, Green, Öztürk
Werder Bremen Wiedwald – Gebre Selassie, Sané, Diagne, Caldirola – Bauer – Yatabaré, Grillitsch (74. Eggestein), Bartels (88. Thy), Fritz – Johannsson (64. Sternberg)
Subs Drobny, Kainz, Moisander, Petsos
Goals 1:0 Alonso (9.), 2:0 Lewandowski (13.), 3:0 Lewandowski (46.), 4:0 Lahm (66.), 5:0 Ribéry (73.), 6:0 Lewandowski (77., penalty)
Cards Yellow: – / Sternberg
Referee Christian Dingert (Burglichtenberg)
Attendance 75.000 (sold out)

»Eier, wir brauchen Eier!«

— Oliver Kahn

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