Teamwork makes the dream work

How Bayern Munich’s assault is evolving with out the talismanic No. 9

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Robert Lewandowski, the No. 9 who broke so many Bayern Munich and Bundesliga goal-scoring information all through his eight-year profession on the Allianz Area, left for Barcelona final month. His departure marks the top of an period for the membership.

With the Bavarians with out their prime scorer of the previous eight seasons, a giant query has been raised: How is supervisor Julian Nagelsmann going to organise his crew in 2022-23 with out their celebrity striker? Now that we have had the German Tremendous Cup (a 5-3 win over RB Leipzig) and witnessed Bayern’s 6-1 win in opposition to Eintracht Frankfurt, we will analyse what could be to come back.

Lewandowski’s position all through the years

It is vital to recognise that the way in which Lewandowski was used beneath Nagelsmann was completely different in comparison with the years prior.

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Since Bayern introduced Lewandowski in from rivals Borussia Dortmund in 2014, managers from Pep Guardiola to Hansi Flick have most well-liked to play a one-striker-system with him as the point of interest of their assault. Within the majority of those video games all through eight seasons, Lewandowski’s primary positioning was based mostly in central areas on the pitch, not solely the centre of the ultimate third.

One in all his duties was to occupy the area of each centre-backs, forcing these defenders to cowl him (also referred to as pinning again), making it tougher to defend in keeping with the remainder of the defence. From there, Lewandowski might drop in between the traces to participate in Bayern’s link-up play or assault the area behind the defenders. This process was very best for him as a result of he began in central areas, which made it a nightmare for these defenders as he might use each route and angle doable. He had extra choices to assault than his opposition might cowl.

Contemplating there aren’t any limitations on the place Lewandowski might go from the centre of the pitch, he might assault areas in entrance of 1 defender or behind, in to the area past their sight view. This, paired with the striker’s world-class technical skill, defiant dribbling and steadiness of abilities each ahead wants, explains why he is been capable of break a number of of Bayern legend Gerd Muller’s information.

Finally, by being the star man, Lewandowski was additionally helped by the politics of Bayern Munich. Star gamers are typically saved pleased with no actual challenges for his or her place. This allowed him to be entrance and centre, together with his backup, Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting, comfortable sufficient to tag alongside.

Naglesmann implements change



Arne Friedrich explains why Bayern Munich is hopeful that Sadio Mane can substitute a few of Robert Lewandowski’s manufacturing.

When Nagelsmann was appointed Bayern head coach final summer time, it did not change Lewandowski’s position or space of motion in possession, however the supervisor elevated the variety of attackers within the penalty space, which means the Poland worldwide nonetheless wasn’t restricted by his place on the pitch, however was as an alternative disrupted by his personal gamers. We all know this as a result of his anticipated objectives per shot was the very same as within the 2020-21 season beneath Flick, however Lewandowski scored fewer objectives. Now we have loads of examples of Bayern overcrowding the opposing penalty space, most lately of their loss to Villarreal within the quarterfinals of final season’s Champions League.

It was Nagelsmann’s concept that having extra gamers arriving within the field would generate extra attacking menace, and due to this fact goal-scoring alternatives, as there could be a numerical benefit for Bayern gamers to select up second balls or defections. It did not matter who arrived so long as certainly one of them did.

But there was additionally change to his position out of possession. Earlier than Nagelsmann, Lewandowski would lead the press ranging from a central place, forcing the opponents large and blocking their passing routes into the centre of pitch. With Nagelsmann as head coach, that modified as he used extra gamers up entrance to press their opponents. So, as an alternative of Lewandowski ranging from the centre, he was pushed extra in direction of the facet. If Bayern gained the ball, he was in a worse place to guide a counterattack.

Mane marks the start of a brand new period

With the signing of Sadio Mane from Liverpool earlier in the summertime, I predicted he was more likely to be performed up entrance slightly than on the wing, until Serge Gnabry was pondering of departing however he ultimately signed a brand new contract. Now that we have seen the German Tremendous Cup and their opener at Frankfurt, we all know that is true, nevertheless it isn’t an out-and-out alternative as I initially thought — and it is also modified Gnabry’s position together with it.

In opposition to RB Leipzig and Frankfurt, Nagelsmann performed each up entrance in a 4-box-2 formation, with Jamal Musiala and Thomas Muller as half-wingers (not as large as a typical winger, but not as central as a No. 10) behind them. This offers Bayern an unbelievable quantity of flexibility with Musiala and Muller slicing inside, occupying central areas in between their opponents’ traces, which frees up Mane and Gnabry to drop onto the wings or assault the area behind their rivals’ final defensive position.

This setup permits the attackers to continuously rotate positions, disrupting the opposing crew’s skill to remain organised whereas monitoring Bayern. This has labored completely due to the person profiles of every participant: Mane’s mixture of pace and ending permits him to assault the areas in behind the defence always; Gnabry’s technical skill and tempo helps him to steadiness Mane’s runs in behind whereas dropping in between the traces.

In the meantime, Musiala’s finesse in dribbling in tight areas and Muller’s skill to search out area offers the right steadiness for the strikers to depart their positions, as Muller and Musiala are capable of minimize inside (detailed above). As quickly as one participant occupies a brand new space, a special participant picks up his outdated place and so forth, which is why it’s so tough to defend in opposition to.

With Leroy Sane and Kingsley Coman, each extra conventional wingers who like to stay wider than within the half-spaces, Nagelsmann can also be ready so as to add extra pace, directness and — if wanted — width to their sport.

Nagelsmann nonetheless depends on the identical build-up mechanics as final season. This consists of Benjamin Pavard staying deeper, serving to his crew’s centre-backs of their build-up play, and Alphonso Davies pushing increased up. The double pivot consists of 1 pivot participant (often Joshua Kimmich) staying simply forward of the centre-backs and one increased to help on this part of play (often Leon Goretzka, however thus far it has been Marcel Sabitzer).

With Bayern combining their strengths (ball development and fluidity inside their entrance 4), they’ve made a giant step to redefine their assault. As an alternative of counting on a single participant, they’re now able to distributing the attacking menace throughout their entrance 4, resulting in them scoring 10 objectives in opposition to RB Leipzig and Eintracht Frankfurt.

It has been a fantastic begin to life with out Lewandowski, and we’re nonetheless but to see how gamers comparable to Sane, Coman, Ryan Gravenberch or the younger Mathys Tel will complement Bayern’s new-look assault over the course of the season.

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