Bayern Positioning to Cover the Key Zones

By Stevie Grieve

Positioning in modern football is a massive part of the success of a team, particularly in the development of an attacking game but also in ball conservation to defend, while defensive positioning has always been an important factor in a successful defensive unit. With Pep Guardiola (of whom regular blog readers will know I analyse his teams on a regular basis), his tactical innovations are changing the way the game is played and coached across all levels.

Inverted Full Backs to overload the centre and cover several zones with one player

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The full backs of Bayern – Alaba and Lahm – can both be played in central midfield and at full back in both attacking and defensive phases. This gives Guardiola so many more options but instead of being a traditional coach and using

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Midfield Positioning to Penetrate

By Stevie Grieve

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Bayern initial set up – 4-2-3-1/4-3-3 hybrid

With Alonso (yellow) screening infront of the defence and playing laterally, this allows Rode (yellow) and Hojbjerg (orange) to be free to drift between the lines and support if Robben or Ribery (Red) stay wide. If they stay wide, Bernat/Rafinha stay deeper and tuck inside as inverted FB’s and help overload centrally to look for forward passes through the defence.

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Bayern 4-3-3 with 1v1 zones on the side and inverted full backs

As Robben and Ribery are excellent 1v1 players, staying wide opens up a lot of space in

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Arsenal’s Defensive Instability

By Stevie Grieve

In the last few seasons, Arsenal have tried to play a possession and pressing system, but often with massive instability, mainly through Mikel Arteta’s bad decision making at the bottom of the midfield triangle when deciding to press (and often foul) or drop off.

As he was always more of a controlling central midfielder than a deep playmaker in the #6 position, adjusting to this position in an attacking sense has been a lot easier than the defensive aspects needed for the role, such as pressing, covering, screening passes into strikers, tracking runners and offering protection to centre backs.

In the recent game against Manchester United, the lack of stability in the Arsenal midfield out of possession was again evident, particularly when pressing, and often with no stability around or behind the pressing zone.

Example; Rooney’s goal for 2-0 in the 86th minute

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In this image, the ball is rebounded to the central midfielder. Above the dotted line, there is only 1 player able to confront the ball carrier and delay play, and not from a weak side position. This dictates that

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Belgium v Wales

By Stevie Grieve

One element in tactical development is the ability of players to do the unexpected to open up scoring chances. Tactics allow for the team to have a structured playing style which leads into a game process to find a way to win a game, but often a game is won by players in attacking areas making a chance to score from a piece of inspired play, often in tight situations.

Origi creates a chance for Chadli

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De Bruyne dribbles inside to look for a diagonal pass into

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The Importance of the Center Back Pairing

By Stevie Grieve

Arsenal have been notoriously bad defensively for several years, but this looked to be changing in the past 18 months, Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker becoming a solid partnership at the back as both players strengths complement each other’s weaknesses. In this game v Anderlecht, recognised 2nd choice left full back Nacho Monreal played at Centre Back with Per Mertesacker, in what was always destined to be a horror pairing, and so it turned out to be.

From the 1st whistle, neither player looked comfortable with the pairing, and in the 1st half, Anderlecht could’ve easily scored 3 goals, while Arsenal tore into a 2-0 HT lead.

In the 2nd half, Arsenal made it 3 through some

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Quick Counter Attacking

By Stevie Grieve

Bayern Munich under Guardiola have changed significantly since the treble winning team under Jupp Heynckes, but one thing which has returned this season is the direct passes over the top of a defence in attacking transition. This was an aspect missing last season but with Xabi Alonso, David Alaba, Xherdan Shaquiri able to play accurate passes over 40m, and players able to run behind a defence in Robert Lewandowski, Arjen Robben and Mario Goetze, they have the ability to do so.

Pressing results in regain and instant forward pass resulting in a goal

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As Bayern press from the front, Bayern like to make play predictable. Here they leave the pass to the full back available but as the CB is under pressure, both CM’s turn and move away to recover the expected loose ball. Instead, the CB recognises the offered pass, but makes a bad decision to pass short into the Bayern press.

Shaquiri is in position to treble up with any of Robben and Lahm or Lahm and Alonso for any

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