Bayern Munich: Tactical takeaways from 4-2 win against Heidenheim

Bayern Munich players celebrating goal against Heidenheim. (Photo by Christina Pahnke - sampics/Corbis via Getty Images)
Bayern Munich players celebrating goal against Heidenheim. (Photo by Christina Pahnke - sampics/Corbis via Getty Images) /

Bayern Munich hosted newly promoted side Heidenheim at the Allianz Arena and ultimately won the high-scoring encounter. The victory against Heidenheim made sure Bayern temporarily moved top of the points table.

Following a gritty 2-1 victory over Galatasaray in the Champions League on Wednesday that secured both qualification for the competition’s knockout stage and first place in the group, Bayern would have hoped for a straightforward game against Heidenheim. However, Die Roten were made to work hard by the visitors to get all three points.

Let us look at the key tactical events and takeaways from Die Roten’s 4-2 win against Heidenheim on Saturday.

Tuchel relies on squad players to step up in the absence of key players

As expected, Bayern lined up in a 4-2-3-1 formation, whilst the visitors chose a compact 4-1-4-1 formation. Hampered by injuries to key players and the suspension of Joshua Kimmich, Thomas Tuchel made five changes to the side that had beaten Galatasaray on Wednesday.

Serge Gnabry came in for Kingsley Coman, while Thomas Muller replaced injured Jamal Musiala in the number ten role. In the center of the park, Konrad Laimer and Aleksandar Pavlovic replaced Leon Goretzka and Joshua Kimmich. Goretzka missed the game due to a minor muscular injury, while Kimmich was suspended for the game. The 19-year-old Pavlovic was seemingly rewarded with the start following his decent showing as a substitute against Dortmund a week ago.

To the surprise of many, Bouna Sarr started as left-back while Alphonso Davies was given some deserved rest. Since the victory against Freiburg just over a month ago Tuchel and been deploying the right-footed Coman and left-footed Sane as orthodox wingers. With Gnabry back in the lineup, Tuchel used inverted wingers.

Bayern gained control after a sluggish start to the game

Heidenheim tried to take the game to Bayern very early on without forcing a save from Manuel Neuer. Die Roten’s right-back Noussair Mazraoui was shown a yellow card inside four minutes for a bad tackle.

Rekordmeister eventually got in stride and took the lead in the 14th-minute courtesy of a Harry Kane rocket from just inside the box after Leroy Sane cut in from the right and fed him with a neat pass along the ground.

Despite dominating possession and being the more threatening team in attack, the hosts showed moments of indecision in midfield and defense. In the 20th minute of the game, Eren Dinkci cleverly released Tim Kleindienst on the right side of the box. Fortunately for Bayern, the Heidenheim striker scuffed the shot.

Three minutes before the half-time whistle, Die Roten doubled the lead. Sane delivered a perfect cross from a corner for Harry Kane to head past the goalkeeper. The visitors occasionally ruffled Bayern’s feathers, but the half ended with the home team well in control as Kane and Sane shone in the final third.

Heidenheim came roaring back in the game after Bayern made several changes

After the hour mark, Thomas Tuchel made several changes. Raphael Guerreiro finally made his return to first-team action after spending four weeks on the sidelines. The Portuguese full-back replaced Dayot Upamecano, while Mathys Tel and Eric Choupo-Moting replaced Thomas Muller and Serge Gnabry, respectively.

Following these changes, Bayern played a back four of Laimer, Mazraoui, Kim Min-jae, and Sarr. Guerreiro was playing in the midfield with Pavlovic.  Since the host team was now relying on a group of players that were not accustomed to playing with each other, the visitors took advantage of the situation and scored their first goal in the 67th minute with the help of a well-executed counter-attack finished by Tim Kleindienst. In the 70th minute, following a poor pass out from the back by Min-jae, Jan-Niklas Beste scored a second goal for Heidenheim in the space of three minutes to level the score.

Tuchel’s substitutes eventually make the desired impact

Fortunately for Bayern, the substitutes soon hit their strides. Two minutes after Heidenheim equalised, Raphael Guerreiro was alert to make it 3-2 to Bayern from just inside the box after Choupo-Moting’s initial shot was saved by Kevin Muller.

In the 75th minute, Davies replaced Pavlovic to tighten up the defense. Mazraoui moved infield to partner Min-jae centrally, whilst Sarr switched over to the right side as Davies slotted in his usual left-back role. Bayern gained control of the game after scoring the third goal. Tel once again made a difference from the bench as he delivered a pin-point cross in the 85th minute for Choupo-Moting to head it past the goalkeeper and restore Die Roten’s two-goal lead.

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Considering the difficult schedule and personnel problems, Die Roten did well to extend their unbeaten run in the Bundesliga on Saturday. Upamecano was still not yet fit enough to play the full 90 minutes and it was his departure more than anything else that opened the door for  Heidenheim. However, Bayern’s firepower was too much for the visitors.

Kim Min-jae is the rock in the heart of the defense, but he needs to improve on the ball while playing out from the back. The South Korean defender’s pass that led to Heidenheim’s equaliser was all too similar to his pass which led to a Saarbrucken equaliser a few days ago. Die Roten were knocked out of DFB Pokal since they lost against Saarbrucken.

With club football pausing for two weeks due to the international break, the Bavarian faithful will hope that there are no injuries for players while playing for the international break. Tuchel will hope that injured players recover well during the break and return as soon as possible for the final stretch of games in 2023.