After celebrating their second consecutive Bundesliga title over the weekend, Bayern Munich will be back on the pitch this weekend to try and complete "the double" and defend their domestic cup title in the DFB-Pokal final against Borussia Dortmund at the Olympiastadion in Berlin.
Despite finishing 19 points ahead of them in the final standings, Bayern arguably come in as evenly matched with Dortmund (underdogs to some people on the site). They came out 3-0 winners in Mario Götze's homecoming, but were on the wrong side of a 3-0 game at the Allianz arena in the second meeting. The two teams enter Saturday's Cup final 3-3 on aggregate, with Dortmund winning in the last meeting.
Bayern had the possession advantage 65-35% and outshot Dortmund 10-7 in that game. So the question is, what went wrong for Die Rekordmeister the second time around? Just like Real Madrid did to Bayern in the Champions League, Dortmund successfully took advantage of the few chances they got and exposed Bayern's defense.
On that day, Bayern went with a 4-2-3-1 formation with a back line of Rafinha-Martínez-Dante-Alaba with Philipp Lahm and Bastian Schweinsteiger in the midfield. Lahm played in the "pivot" role for Bayern with Rafinha filling in at right back, which is something we've seen a lot from Pep Guardiola this season. Pep also decided to go with Javi Martínez over Jérome Bôateng, who was listed as a substitute. Here are the goals below:
First Goal (Henrikh Mkhitaryan)
The play starts out with Dante not covering of a wide open Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang on the throw-in. Martínez had to scramble to the other side to try and help, but the ball was already off Aubameyang's foot by that point. My first concern is who is Dante marking on this play? He seems content with an out of position Martínez taking Aubameyang, which leaves the left side more vulnerable. On a throw-in, you'd typically see some congestion on whatever side the ball is on, but not the center backs being that far out of position.
Rafinha then decides to adandon his post and help Lahm on Reus, who was behind him the whole way. We've seen this "swarm the ball" tactic on defense a lot with Guardiola's Bayern this season. When Bayern don't have possession, they swarm the opposition until they get it back. With Rafinha coming over to help, it left the entire opposite side of the pitch open for Mkhitaryan, who finished the job. With no help at all, it was going to take a miracle, even for a keeper of Neuer's stature, to stop Mkhitaryan's shot from going in.
Going back to the beginning of the play, had Dante simply stayed in position with Martínez having added the extra help on Reus, and Rafinha staying to cover his ground on Mkhitaryan, this goal probably doesn't happen. I have given Bayern's defense a lot of credit this year, but when they mess up, it's usually on the elementary things.
In the rematch on Saturday, we are sure to see Lahm back at right back and Boateng (who is eligible for domestic competition) flanking Dante at the other center back position. I don't think this was Javí's fault, but his slow reaction time to the play did not contribute to preventing the goal. He's probably more suited to be in Lahm's pivot role or as a defensive sub later in the game.
Second Goal (Marco Reus, 1:04 in video)
Like it was for the first goal, it was all about not drifting out of position. Left back David Alaba was the culprit this time.
The play started out with a poor first touch by Franck Ribéry on the other end, which allowed Mkhitaryan to start the counter attack the other way. Instead of following Aubameyang, David Alaba drifted towards the center to offer help to a scrambling Rafinha, who was on Reus. With Alaba biting on the bait, this allowed Mkhitaryan to deliver a nice pass to a streaking Aubameyang into the box.
Lahm did well to try and slow the play down by getting in front of Mkhitaryan, but that was about all that was good on this play for Bayern. Once the pass came in to Reus, Rafinha allowed just enough space for Reus to get a shot on goal. Thanks to bad positioning by substitute goal keeper Lukas Raeder (who came in for an injured Neuer), Reus' off balance shot goes into the net. Had Neuer not hurt himself earlier in the game, you wonder if he is able to make this save? Who knows.
Once again, it was bad positioning that set off a domino effect of bad defense by Bayern. Alaba will likely see Aubameyang again on Saturday, and he'll need to learn from his prior mistake in order to minimize the speedy Gabon international's impact on the game.
Third Goal (Jonas Hofmann, 2:22 in video)
This one seems to be a little bit more straightforward then the other goals. It was simply Dante and Rafinha not retreating back fast enough to catch Reus and Jonas Hofmann on the run.
It was a great ball from Mr. Versatility himself Kevin Großkreutz, who was playing right back that day, to find Reus and Hoffmann in advanced position.
Not pictured was Martínez, who was tracking Reus until just beyond midfield, when Reus gave him a light shove and he went tumbling to the ground. Was it a foul? I'm not so sure. It really could have gone either way. With Javi out of the play, the two Bayern defenders allowed more space on Hoffman and Reus, with Hoffman tucking a nice shot over the head of a helpless Raeder for BVB's third and final goal of the game.
With all that being said, I think that Bayern's troubles against Dortmund are fixable, but a change in the lineup is necessary. I believe it is imperative that Lahm start at right back with Boateng, who is fresh off a two-match Bundesliga ban, next to him at center back. Dante and Alaba will likely play on the other side of the box.
My eyes are on Bastian Schweinsteiger, who was subbed off in Saturday's Bundesliga finale with a knee injury. If he is able to play Saturday (which I believe he will), look for Bayern to go with their 4-2-3-1 with Schweinsteiger and either Toni Kross or Martínez (preferably) accompanying him. If he doesn't play, look for the 4-1-41 with Martínez playing as the lone defensive midfielder.
But one thing's for sure, you'll be seeing a different Bayern lineup on Saturday. The question is whether or not they will make the same defensive mistakes that were made last time they faced their arch rivals from Nordrhein-Westfalen.
Video courtesy of Youtube user GITZ