Bayern Munich faced Hertha BSC in their top match on Saturday afternoon. The “old lady” is putting up a very respectable season so far. Hertha outperformed most analysts’ predictions and was in fourth place before the game. Especially their good defensive performances were convincing.
Since Pál Dárdai took over, only Bayern Munich conceded fewer goals than the team from West Berlin. A solid 4-4-2 formation and a focus on the work against the ball are Hertha’s trademarks. Offensively, they are creating good scoring situations by playing their counter-attacks down the wings. Needing only eight shots on goal to score, they are as efficient as Bayern.
3 things we noticed:
1. The higher up the pitch Martínez plays, the better for Bayern
Between the 20th and the 25th minute Pep Guardiola made the decisive adjustment in this game. Boateng, who had won 100 percent of his duels, moved from midfield to the center of defense and exchanged positions with Martínez. Boateng wasn’t ideally integrated in Bayern’s game in the first 20 minutes and had a hard time finding the right spaces on the pitch. Compared to Vidal and Alonso he had considerably fewer ball actions. A swap was therefore the logical choice. Martínez displayed one of his biggest advantages: his ability to adapt.
Martínez can work well in narrow space and is able to keep a clear head in chaotic situations. In addition to his outstanding volley assist for the second goal he also played four more key passes. An outstanding value, especially since he had to play in central defense most of the game. He only played more than half an hour in the more offensive-minded role. Particularly his sovereignty on the ball is quite unique in the squad of FC Bayern. Martínez lost just one ball throughout the entire game. He also had a passing accuracy of 94 percent and won 57 percent of his duels. Winter is coming and Martínez is increasingly becoming a cornerstone of the team – in different roles. On the one hand as a central defender, because Benatia hasn’t yet fully recovered and Boateng keeps having minor problems. On the other hand as a central midfielder e.g. as a substitute for Thiago and Götze, both out with injuries.
2. Gegenpressing as the foundation for success
The relatively high positioning of Boateng and Martínez and Vidal’s positioning next to Alonso created interesting possibilities for counter pressing. Especially at the beginning of the second half, as Bayern had their best phase, the pressing was the foundation for success. By their high positioning and their good runs at the players in white and blue, Vidal, Martínez and Alonso repeatedly forced Hertha to make mistakes in their passing game. They also benefited from the excellent covering of passing options and potential Hertha running lanes by Coman, Müller and Lewandowski. If the ball was not directly recovered in a duel, it was at least indirectly, because Hertha had to kick the ball out of bounds.
At the end of the game, Munich had won 56 percent of the duels. Hertha fans had to wait until the 77th minute to witness the first noteworthy shot on target. Bayern prevented most of Hertha’s counter-attacking chances with their own pressing game. Berlin’s defensive line that consisted of 5 players proved to be a disadvantage for their own offense, as most players were not available as forward passing options and especially the wing positions were always outnumbered. This made it a lot easier for Bayern to recover the ball.
3. Müller, the machine
Thomas Müller has again lifted his game to a new level in recent weeks and months. This somehow happened under the radar, thanks to the outstanding efficiency of Lewandowski and the extremely aggressive playing styles of Douglas Costa, Kingsley Coman and Arjen Robben. Müller scored this 20th goal in this 20th competitive match this season. He has already reached his previous personal season record of goals scored in the Bundesliga on match day 14. His 20 goals are also accompanied by 5 assists. Müller is a main pillar in the offensive game of Bayern and is constantly leaving his footprints in every game this season. He wasn’t directly involved in a goal in only four of the games he started in.
Müller benefits from an increased presence on the field. He takes no breaks, even if not all the attempts and actions have been successful, he’s a constant threat. He does not wait for the three or four actions in the game where the ball just lands in front of his feet. He benefits from his positioning next to Lewandowski or as a number ten. There, Müller can move out to the wing or he can attack the defensive line, dragging opposing players with him either way. Especially against teams that have parked the bus he in an integral part of Bayern’s current success. Against Bremen, Cologne, Arsenal and Hertha BSC he provided goals and / or assists that put Bayern on the winning side, despite the team’s immense difficulties in adapting to each opponent. This versatility combined with the other offensive players makes this FC Bayern less predictable.
|FC BAYERN – HERTHA BSC 2-0 (2-0)|
|FC Bayern||Neuer – Lahm, Martínez, Benatia, Rafinha – Boateng (66. Rode), Alonso, Vidal (84. Badstuber) – Müller, Lewandowski, Coman|
|Subs||Ulreich, Kirchhoff, Weihrauch, Pantovic|
|Hertha BSC||Jarstein – Regäsel, Langkamp, Lustenberger, Brooks, Plattenhardt – Haraguchi, Skjelbred (56. Cigerci), Darida (72. Stocker), Kalou – Ibisevic (56. Baumjohann)|
|Goals||1-0 Müller (34.), 2-0 Coman (41.)|
|Cards||Yellow: – / Langkamp, Skjelbred, Ibisevic|
|Referee||Dr. Jochen Drees (Münster-Sarmsheim)|