Bayern Munich’s absolute humbling of Borussia Dortmund came as a shock for both teams. The Bavarians stormed through their arch-rivals with precision, creating a plethora of chances while keeping things tight at the back. The swashbuckling offensive performance from those in red will serve as a reminder to all teams that Bayern can still compete on their day and should never be underestimated.
Bayern’s attackers had a chemistry unmatched this season as Robert Lewandowski, Serge Gnabry, Thomas Müller and Kingsley Coman all seemed to be on the same wavelength. With brilliant, lung-busting and busy displays from both fullbacks, midfield superiority and a secret weapon at centre-back, Bayern put out a offensive display of the highest order.
Let’s take a look at how Bayern’s attack annihilated The Black and Yellows:
Counter attacking and high pressing
Throughout the contest, Bayern displayed a counter-attacking prowess that’s rarely been seen in Munich in the past few seasons. Bayern caused turnovers high up the pitch and were willing to gamble on counters instead of recycling possession.
Below, in just the first minute of the game, pressure from Bayern’s attack forces a turnover right on BVB’s defensive line. Müller spots his partner in crime, Robert Lewandowski, hovering between two opposition defenders. What follows is an incisive pass that slightly evades the menacing Pole, who likely would have scored if he got the ball under control. While this chance may have come to naught, it illustrates Bayern’s newfound ability to find deadly chances in a flash and set a tone for the rest of the game.
Aggressive pressing was very evident in Bayern’s game plan. Moreover, there was an emphasis on the wingers tracking back. Both factors are exemplified in this clip where Coman makes a tackle after a Bayern press, Müller blocks Hakimi from recovering, and then Coman goes on a direct run sparking a 4v4 counter-attack.
The direct press was again shown as Davies wins the ball off of Jadon Sancho high up the pitch, launching a snappy counter-attack which almost resulted in goal after good interplay between Bayern forwards.
Long balls, direct passing/crossing by defenders
Three very important factors in Bayern’s victory and style of play were the defenders, Benjamin Pavard, David Alaba and Davies. All three were direct, delivered sumptuous passes and were integral to Bayern’s long ball/crossing strategy.
In this first clip, Alaba receives the ball only to lob a delicious pass to Serge Gnabry, who had darted inside the BVB defence. Gnabry failed to register a proper shot, yet the situation highlights how Bayern’s tactics gave them the ability to turn a unpromising situation into a goal-scoring chance.
Bayern’s strong crossing game on the night was showcased in the magnificent first goal. Lewandowski finds space between Dortmund defenders in a packed box, a space recognized by Pavard as he sends in a perfectly weighted volley cross that is coolly finished by Bayern’s striker.
As shown previously, Alaba’s “quarterback” play was especially effective for Bayern. While Javi Martinez recycled the ball, the Austrian was given free rein to unleash deadly long ball after long ball. The clip below showcases how a center-back with vision can create chances on offence — Alaba’s cutting pass to Lewandowski laying the foundation for a great Coman chance.
Not only did Pavard score an assist, but the Frenchman was a constant attacking presence throughout the match. He was on top of his crossing game, shown through the below two clips as he brilliantly found Ivan Perisic with fast and visionary crosses. In the first clip, Pavard storms up the pitch before bouncing his cross in front of the 6 yard box. In the second, Pavard can be mistaken for Xabi Alonso as he hits a delightful, lobbed pass.
Attacking chemistry + fast and direct defence-splitting passes
All four Bayern forwards demonstrated their elite understanding with each other and this resulted in multiple chances. On the wings, Coman and Gnabry utilized their speed and movement. Through the centre, Robert Lewandowski and Thomas Muller showcased their hold up play and football IQ. All in all, a harmonious display from the attackers.
In this clip, Alaba launches a break with a fast pass to Lewandowski. Bayern’s 9 flicks the ball into the path of Leon Goretzka who progresses forward and passes to an onrushing Davies. The Canadian whips in the cross and finds Lewy, who mis-hits his shot. Gnabry converts, but the goal is disallowed for offside. Even though the sequence came to nothing, it illustrates the fast, high-tempo nature of Bayern’s offense throughout the 90 minutes.
Bayern’s directness was fully apparent in their second goal. Joshua Kimmich played a through pass of the highest order to Müller, who is wide open on the left wing (having beaten the Dortmund offside trap with his expert awareness). The German then drives forward before serving the ball on a plate for Lewandowski. Bayern’s talisman missed the ball completely, but Gnabry was there to finish the fast break. A perfect example of how dangerous a direct Bayern can be.
Bayern’s third goal, again, was the result of fast, vertical football. Manuel Neuer took his goal kick which was then flicked on to Lewy with Perisic’s first touch. The world’s best striker superbly held up the ball while waiting for support. Coutinho made a darting run, causing Niko Shulz to track him — this left Müller wide open again — an option Lewy recognized when he passed to his German counterpart. Müller decided to give Lewy the ball back with a simple yet brilliant dink of a through ball and the striker deftly finished the sequence with a true team goal.
While all of the Coman clips in this section still apply to “attacking chemistry+fast defence-splitting passes”, this was a Coman performance of intelligence and refinement. Hence he receives a subheading of his own.
In the 51st minute, Bayern’s left winger picked up the ball outside of Dortmund’s penalty area before delivering a in-swinger cross/through ball reminiscent of Kevin de Bruyne — the kind of play that might have gone viral if it had been KDB, such was the level of vision and artistry of the pass.
In another example of a direct pass, Coman spots Lewy open between two defenders. The Pole’s movement allows for the Frenchman to fizz the ball right onto his right boot. After receiving the pass, Lewy proceeds to send Mats Hummels back to Dortmund with a cheeky shimmy before sending his shot wide.
In the below clip, Coman skillfully changes direction before crossing in with his left foot. Müller’s drifts unmarked to the front of the box and gets his head on the cross. However, the raumdeuter doesn’t get a substantial touch on the ball and it’s cleared by Dortmund defenders.
Overall, this was an attacking display of the highest class. Hopefully, Bayern will continue this newfound form and dominate teams from now on. If performances like the one against Dortmund keep up, there’s no reason they can’t! I’m just going to leave this Lewy touch in here for the end: