Pressing to Make Play Predictable

By Stevie Grieve

Bayern Munich seem to have changed to a new 3-4-2-1 type of formation this season, possibly to combat teams playing a low 4-2-3-1 or 4-5-1, overloading midfield with 6 players while having 3 players in deep positions to circulate possession from a deep position with penetration to 2 central players behind the opposition midfield, who can both drift wide in Muller and Robben.

In the game against Wolfsburg, Bayern pressed relatively well, directing play to one side and forcing Wolfsburg into predictable longer passes as the short range passing lanes were covered, while dealing with longer passes before they happen.

Blocking passing lanes with the immediate pressure


As the ball is transferred wide from kick off, Bayern immediately try to close every short passing lane and force a long ball or a diagonal backwards pass which could be intercepted.


As Bernat closes in, he blocks the easy pass down the line, and tracks the dribble inside. As the dribble inside is made, only 1 pass lane is open, which Lewandowski and Muller would be ready to pounce on any passes into here. The RB plays safe and goes long.

Containing a zone behind the pressure


Bayern look to direct play to one area, where the play can be covered and overloaded. Behind the pressure, on the side away from the directing, they have 4 players arcing around the pressing zone.

Each player covering has their body shape angled to ensure they can press quickly if the ball breaks out of the pressing zone.

Lahm covers the predictable pass


Lahm can see where the pass will be played and drops off early to cover the pass.

 Containing Play in 1 zone


Here, Bayern contain play in one zone, less than ¼ of the field with 6 players in a 3-1-4-2 block. All 1st and 2nd line passing options are covered man-man, while Muller and Robben’s body shape control the space around the marking zone.

Containing play in one ‘corridor’


Traditionally a lot fo coaches would be heard saying ‘defend in 2 corridors’ while Bayern here are trying to contain and keep the ball in 1 corridor, minimizing the amount of ‘exits’ available.

Robben and Muller press from wider areas, closing down the central space, offering one passing lane which has 2 players around it to play 2v1 on the side.

Robben regains possession in the 3v1 as all exits are closed and the ball isn’t released


With all exits blocked, the player tries to turn back on his right side. As this happens, Robben presses from the blindside; winning the ball and starts a counter attack, leading to a goal within 8 seconds.

By Stevie Grieve. (Follow on Twitter @steviegrieve)  Stevie is also the author Coaching the 4-2-3-1Coaching the 4-2-3-1 Advanced Tactics and From Futsal to Soccer

Manchester United’s Defensive Problems v MK Dons

By Stevie Grieve

New Manchester United Manager Louis Van Gaal has taken over a struggling side from last season, but despite the criticism that David Moyes endured, Louis Van Gaal’s premier league start had delivered 1 point from 2 winnable games. This was followed up by a 4-0 humiliation from MK Dons. Despite fielding largely a reserve side, it did contain experienced first team and internationalists in Javier Hernandez, Danny Welbeck, Shinji Kagawa, Jonny Evans and David De Gea.

In the 3-1-4-2 attacking system, there are space to exploit in transition, or when the midfield press high. When the ball is played wide into the full backs, this may entice the already high positioned wing-backs to

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Bayern Right Side Attack v Wolfsburg

By Stevie Grieve

Bayern Munich opened the new Bundesliga season as Champions but without a fully fit squad and missing several key central midfielders, including Toni Kroos who was sold to Real Madrid. In central midfield, they had unknown teenager Gianluca Gaudino and David Alaba, not an ideal pairing on paper if you don’t realise that David Alaba is one of the best footballers in the world in several positions.

In attack, they had a potent from 3 in Robben, Mueller and new signing Robert Lewandowski, players who will always create and score chances.

The game plan for Bayern Munich was to nullify the threat of Kevin de Bruyne and Ricardo Rodriguez down the left side by limiting their space in transition, while pinning them back while Bayern were in possession by dominating the zone with a flood of players and a constant attacking presence.

Bayern set up – Flood the right side and look for 4v3 on the side

BayernRSAtt (1)

As we can see, Bayern would have 4 players wide on the right side, which enables them to

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Creative Attacking

By Stevie Grieve

Real Madrid went into the European Super Cup match against Sevilla on the back of a summer of spending on big names Toni Kroos, and James Rodriguez. It will be hard for Carlo Ancelotti to balance his squad trying to accommodate Sami Khedira, Xabi Alonso and Angel Di Maria within the starting 11, but this is a task the biggest manager must face if they are to be successful. Angel Di Maria brought balance and stability to the team, and a high assist ratio, something which Mesut Ozil brought to Cristiano Ronaldo (it seems as though assists aren’t enough to stay at Real Madrid).

With the players they have, creativity and quality in the final 3rd is not in short supply.

Ronaldo goal from Bale early cross – eliminated the possibility of the full back recovery


As Ronaldo switches play to James, Bale is wide to offer an outball should James be pressed. The main aspect of this scenario is that the

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Dortmund Beats Bayerns 3-4-3 Formation

By Stevie Grieve

Borussia Dortmund lost to Bayern Munich in the 2013 Champions League Final, the 2014 German Cup Final, and lost Robert Lewandowski to their domestic rivals on a free transfer. They have however, now won the last 2 German Super Cups.

Jurgen Klopp has made some slight changes to his team and the structure and these slight changes worked perfectly against the 3-4-3 of Bayern Munich.

Positioning against the Bayern build-up phase


With Bayern playing a 3-4-3 formation, they have great width to circulate horizontally, so to counter this, Dortmund

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Arsene Wenger – Tactical Mastermind

By Stevie Grieve

Arsenal allow City to attack down the left; tempt Kolarov forward and use his space to counter via Sanchez


Arsenal expects that Man City will use Kolarov down the left, so Alexis Sanchez is not to track back. Instead, Mikel Arteta will shift over and cover the space with Debuchy. When City attack centrally, Arsenal will tease City to playing to the left side when Kolarov is deep, to entice him to get forward and into a crossing position. When the cross is dealt with, Arsenal instantly

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