There’s no disguising the fact that the brand of football Bayern Munich has been playing since Hansi Flick took charge as interim manager has been a significant improvement over how they were playing under Niko Kovac. The 4-0 win over Fortuna Dusseldorf made it three wins out of three for Flick. Bayern has conceded a single shot on target in their last three matches and have kept three clean sheets.
After the win over Dusseldorf, captain Manuel Neuer highlighted some of the tactical changes that Flick has implemented since he’s been in charge (AZ):
We’re not standing so far apart as far as the attack and defense are concerned. That’s why we also get into situations in the opponent’s half in which we have a fast, direct path to the opposing goal. We have much more control than before, are also of course positioned a bit higher up the pitch, and it does us good.
For the past three matches, Flick has started a back line of Alphonso Davies, David Alaba, Javi Martinez, and Benjamin Pavard, with Joshua Kimmich playing just in front on them as a holding midfielder. Ahead of them, he’s used a combination of Thomas Muller, Philippe Coutinho, Leon Goretzka, Corentin Tolisso, Serge Gnabry, and Kingsley Coman to play behind Robert Lewandowski, which has given Bayern the strength in numbers in midfield when press their opponents high up the pitch. That high press was on perfect display against Borussia Dortmund and for large portions of the win at Dusseldorf.
While the tactical switches have clearly paid off for Bayern, Thomas Muller added that there’s still a risk involved in playing with higher lines:
We’re greedy up front. Of course, that entails a certain risk. But we want to make things as difficult for the opponent as possible, so we can have good and controlled offensive actions.
The smaller gaps between the lines make a massive difference. Neuer also highlighted how the trust and communication between the players make the tighter spaces work so efficiently:
It’s a massive difference whether your standing ten or fifteen meters apart or twenty or thirty meters away. We have lots of confidence in the man next to and ahead of us, because the paths simply are shorter, and you can hear what everyone on the pitch is saying.