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The Results Are In (Formation and Tactics Talk)

Last week, we noted that a new CB will probably be headed to FC Bayern before the summer is out, and talked about the possible line-ups and formations that Jupp Heynckes will have at his disposal. In our unofficial reader poll, it seems that something like a 4-2-3-1 formation was the clear favorite.

Since there was no official poll plug-in and a lot of readers responded in depth rather than with a specific #, we can only talk about the results in broad terms.  We got a lot of good responses over e-mail and in the comments section.  The 4-2-3-1 formation that was preferred by a majority was basically the same way we ended last season, only with Rafinha in at RB, Lahm swapped to LB, and Boateng-Alex-Zapata-other new CB in next to Badstuber.  You could also call it a 4-2-2-1-1 formation, and it’s not actually too much different from the classic 4-4-2.  But however you characterize it, we all know what we’re talking about - it looks like this:


Still a few question marks, needless to say.

Still a few question marks, needless to say.


With Gomez up top, Müller in behind him in the “second striker” role (sometimes dashing forward to basically play next to Gomez), and Ribery and Robben on the wings with plenty of freedom to cut inside.  The other CM next to Bastian could be Tymoschuk,

Gustavo, or we could go pick up Vidal, and readers have differing opinions on that, but in general a majority of comments and e-mails seemed to prefer this formation.  I suppose this makes sense, because we played well for the last 5 weeks of the season in this formation, and really when Ribery and Robben are both healthy this set-up makes it very difficult for opponents.  Basically, the advantages of the 4-2-3-1 are as follows:

1) It’s fairly stout at the back - at least, more so than the 3-2-1-3-1, which nobody seemed to like

2) It creates a good amount of width, with a man wide on either sideline at two separate layers of the formation.

2) It allows the two guys on the wings plenty of room to operate - with two strikers both centered in the middle of the field, and one often playing behind the other, the guys on the wing spots are more likely to be left unmarked or at least have 1-on-1 coverage.  Or, alternately, if the defense focuses all of their resources on stopping those wings, the guys in the middle will have an easy time of it.  Either way, one of those 4 excellent forwards (Ribery, Müller, Robben, and Gomez) should be able to carve out some space.

The problems, as I see it, are as follows:

1) It’s very, very dependent on the two CMs.  With only 4 guys behind them, and all 4 of the forwards very offensive-minded players, the “Bastian + 1” line must be a defensive presence practically all the time.  If a pass gets by that CM line, the opponent is only one good run or one quick pass from a scoring chance.  Picture Bastian trying to chase down Goran Pandev in the Inter game.

2) Because the formation is only two layers deep on the Bayern (defensive) side of the pitch, the consequences of any guy getting beaten off the dribble are catastrophic.  This is especially true in the middle of the field.  A 4-3-3 and a 5-2-3 would leave more guys back to defend, and the 3-2-1-3-1 would leave three layers on the defensive side of the pitch rather than two.

3) Because of point 2, and because both of our fullbacks are the type that like to venture forward, you could argue that it puts a lot of pressure on the CBs.  But really, there is always going to be pressure on the CBs.  If you have a CB that gets burned too often, your team if going to give up goals, no matter what else you do.

Which brings us to today’s news feed.  Cristián Zapata’s agent issued a statement today downplaying reports that his client was headed to Liverpool.  The Sky Sports report said that “Bayern Munich had also made an approach” but didn’t get any more specific than that.  I’m still not ready to rule this out.

No news on the Boateng front - Manchester City still wants € 20 million for the player, and Bayern is either unwilling to go that far, or is still pretending to talk to other CBs in order to bring the price down. 

Leverkusen has once again reiterated that Vidal will not be allowed to join Bayern.  This being his last year under contract, he could still join Bayern in the summer of 2012, although Leverkusen might be able to ship him to Italy or Spain, if they can find a club that he's willing to play for.

With June almost over, Nerlinger and KHR have wrapped up the Neuer move and signed a few more interesting players.  The big whole now is clearly at CB.  If we’re able to pick up Zapata, Boateng, or someone better, this offseason will be seen as a big success.  If we fail to reinforce that spot, our 4-2-3-1 is going to look very vulnerable when the Audi Cup starts in July.

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