Tactical Analysis: Atletico Madrid 1-0 Bayern Munich

Atletico Madrid, thanks to a wonderful solo goal by Saul, take a slender but vital 1-0 lead against Bayern Munich into the second leg of the UEFA Champions League Semifinals. The game was played at a crazily high tempo with a boisterous home support at the Vicente Calderon cheering their team on. Pep Guardiola needs to come up with something radically different to break down this Atletico defence so that Bayern don’t lose their third semifinal in a row.

First Half

Capture

The only surprise from the starting lineups was Pep’s decision to drop Thomas Muller and play Coman/Thiago instead. This decision backfired, but initially it did make sense as Pep want Bayern to exploit Atletico’s narrow shape by overloading the wings and switching play. Atletico’s amazing workrate meant that they were able to counter Bayern’s wing play quite easily by doubling up.

The first 20 minutes played out as expected with Atletico pressing really hard high up the pitch and not giving Bayern any chance to build play from the back. Pep’s plan of playing three midfielders in the center with Thiago, Alonso and Vidal was to survive the initial period and then start controlling the game as Atletico tired. But Torres and Griezmann were working really hard to close down Alonso and Thiago , and Bayern had simply no answer at that time. Saul’s goal came during this phase but it was a case of exceptionally poor defending by Bayern. It was a special goal in a special occasion but it was too easy for Saul who managed to evade four players and score the goal. This was the worst situation Bayern could find themselves in and it was perfect for Atletico who settled back into two banks of four.

Atletico’s centerbacks were impressive in keeping Lewandowski completely out of the game with Gimenez following the Polish striker everywhere. Bayern’s gameplan was to overload the wings to counter Atletico’s narrow formation. Both the wingers Coman and Costa stayed out wide even when the ball was in the opposite side of the pitch with the fullbacks and midfielder supporting them. Coman was poor and even Costa didn’t have much success as Atletico’s full backs were excellent along with the wide midfielders who worked tirelessly to double up at every opportunity.

Second Half

Bayern continued to attack down the wings as they sought to create 1v1 opportunities for Costa and Coman but both of them couldn’t create any chances as Atletico were quick to close down and with their narrow formation,they always had an extra player to cover. Special mention to Filipe Luis here, as the former Chelsea man was immense in both defending and while countering. Bayern started to up the pressure in the second half as Atletico started defending deeper and deeper. Ribery came on for the off-color Coman and Costa moved to the right but he had no success against the brilliant Filipe Luis. Muller came on for Thiago and but by this time Atletico were comfortably sitting deep and for a couple of long shots aside, Bayern couldn’t create any clear cut chances. In midst of all the Bayern possession, Atletico had few dangerous counters with Torres hitting the post once and Koke hitting the rebound straight to Neur.

Overall Atletico defended really well but Bayern can take confidence from their second half performance. The opening 20 minutes rattled Bayern and Saul’s goal was a sucker-punch which the Germans couldn’t recover from in the first half. Guardiola had a sensible plan to overload the wings but too many of Bayern’s players seem to be in bad form. Although Thomas Muller’s omission was criticised widely, both Coman and Thiago had specific roles which they were better at(at least on paper)than Muller. Both of them failed, Coman was ineffective on the wings and Thiago just couldn’t find the time and space with Atletico’s intense pressing down the middle.

average positions
Average positions over 90 Minutes(Look at the narrow Atletico midfield)

 

For the second leg, Guardiola most likely will continue to use the same tactic of attacking down the wings but with a slightly altered starting lineup. The composition of the middle three will be vital and Alonso has to be dropped. Bayern need to play Vidal as the deepest midfielder to counter Atletico’s pace on the counter, they simply can’t afford to concede an away goal. Thomas Muller will definitely start and his movement to overload the right side along with Costa and Lahm will be an important outlet for Bayern. Boateng’s possible return also will be crucial as Bayern missed his ability on the ball.

Read More

A look at Chris Wilder’s tactics at Sheffield United

It is perhaps no coincidence that the two in-form English managers were honing their craft in the Championship a year before, they now sit...

The Forgotten story of the Basque in South America

This article is sourced from a string of Twitter posts by Impedimento, translated by the author. Exactly 80 years ago, a French steamer called SS...

Manchester United’s biggest transfer mistake of last summer

Manchester United's disastrous run under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer starting after their famous victory in Paris can be explained due to a multitude of factors....

The tactical flexibility of Ralph Hasenhuttl’s Southampton:

  Hasenhuttl has certain areas of the first team’s play that he wants to improve before the Premier League kicks-off again in August. Having arrived...

Mason Mount: Chelsea’s Golden Boy

When Frank Lampard was appointed, Derby County fans everywhere collectively held their breath in the hope of whom his widely spoken about “contacts” might...

A look at Gian Piero Gasperini’s tactics at Atalanta

After almost 3 years with Gian Piero Gasperini at the helm of Atalanta, they finished 3rd in the Serie A this season, securing European...

How will Manchester City lineup in the 2019/20 season

Pep Guardiola will be looking to repeat on last year’s success and win the Premier League title for a third straight year. The Manchester...

Football Tactics for Beginners

Football Tactics for Beginners-The Regista

The rapid rise of the 4-2-3-1 formation over the past decade has seen the importance of the regista or the deep lying playmaker skyrocket....

Football Tactics For Beginners: Attacking FullBacks

The modern attacking fullback has many duties to perform. No longer is it enough to leave an opposition winger stud-pocked and bruised, a modern...

Football Tactics for Beginners: Pressing and Counter-Pressing

Introduction: The idea of pressing is to put pressure on the ball with the intention of winning it back off of the opposition. By forcing...

Football Tactics for Beginners:The High Defensive Line

Introduction: The high defensive line is a high risk style of play that see’s a team push up in order to shut down the amount...

Introduction to the 3-5-2 Formation

The Back-3 defense was created as a way to counter teams built around an orthodox 4-4-2. Using three Center Backs created four distinct advantages...

Football Tactics for Beginners:Rebirth of the Back 3

One of the most notable tactical trends of the 21st Century is the death of the 3-man defense.  In the 1980’s and 1990’s the...

Football Tactics For Beginners:Catenaccio

  Some people are etched in our collective minds, as are some legends and indeed, perceptions about such words and legends. When it comes to football,...

Football Tactics for Beginners- The False Winger

A relatively new one to the lexicon of the footballing world, the false winger is often associated with players that drift inside to make...

Football Tactics for Beginners: Tactical Periodization

What is Tactical Periodization? Tactical Periodization is a coaching methodology which is used to train football players with respect to the tactical context of the...