On Sunday, Bayern Munich played host to this season’s surprise team VfB Stuttgart. With league leaders Leverkusen having already dispatched Frankfurt 3-0 earlier in the day, both teams needed a win to stay within touching distance of first place. A win for the visitors would have seen them leapfrog Die Roten into second place. However, that was not to be the case as a short-handed Bayern Munich rather surprisingly came away with a comfortable 3-0 win. Let us now take a look at the key tactical events and takeaways from Rekordmeister’s impressive victory at the Allianz Arena.
Injury woes compounded by late withdrawal of Kimmich and Goretzka due to illness
With Noussair Mazraoui, Serge Gnabry, Kingsley Coman and Matthijis de Ligt all unavailable due to injury, things seemingly went from bad to worse with the news that Joshua Kimmich and Leon Goeretzka would be late withdrawals due to illness.
Coach Thomas Tuchel had no choice other than to ring in the changes. Konrad Laimer came in to replace Mazraoui as right-back. Jamal Musiala shifted to the right wing as Thomas Muller got the start as the number ten. For the first time ever the starting midfield double pivot featured veteran Portuguese international Raphael Guerreiro and 19-year-old German under-20 international Aleksandar Pavlovic . On paper the formation remained 4-2-3-1 but, quite often, with Bayern conceding possession it evolved into a 4-4-2 with the wing-backs overlapping whenever the opportunity arose.
Masterclass in counter-attacking football from Bayern
In a scenario seldom witnessed at the Allianz Arena, Bayern conceded possession to the opposition throughout the game and yet always looked in control.
Bayern had only 37% possession for the game but outshot Stuttgart 17-6 in terms of total shots and 8-2 in terms of shots on target. Even more surprisingly, Bayern had only 29% possession in the first half and yet still would have buried the opposition before half-time were it not for some uncharacteristic profligacy from both Sane and Kane (Stats Courtesy: Sofascore.com).
Midfield and Defense superbly in unison
To the pleasant surprise of the Bavarian faithful the midfield double pivot of Guerreiro and Pavlovic looked quite comfortable with the tactics. The midfield pair were key to the defensive setup. Guerreiro still manged to occasionally venture forward to good effect whilst Pavlovic was unwavering as the midfield anchor. The young German was also proficient with delivery on set-plays. His delivery from a freekick and from a corner lead to Bayern’s second and third goals, respectively.
At the back Kim min-jae and Dayot Upamecano continued from where they left off against Manchester United. The pair covered well for each other and the wing-backs
In light of the trying circumstances surrounding this important victory, and how it was accomplished, there is reason to believe that Die Roten has now turned the corner on the road to consistency. After the impressive performances from Guerreiro and Pavlovic in central midfield Bayern’s top brass may want to consider holding off on that new number six in the upcoming winter transfer window and instead focus more on defensive reinforcements.