Tactical lowlights: a review of chances conceded to BVB and M05

A series of annotated images breaking down tactical breakdowns by Bayern in recent games against Mainz and Dortmund.

The common thread: despite fielding a three-man backline, Bayern CBs, especially Pavard, often get pulled out of central defense, without appropriate compensation.

vs Dortmund: First Goal

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Dortmund flood one side of the field to open up space in the middle. It seems to go wrong at the first pressing trigger. Even though Bayern have set up in a 3-5-2 shape, RWB Coman vacates wing defense in favor of leading the press at the top. Pavard steps out of CB spot to defend the wing, losing the defensive shape. Tolisso drifts upfield, showing little awareness what numbers he has behind him.

Five seconds have to go very differently to not create this huge scoring opportunity.

In the replay for the goal on ESPN+, the announcer comments "two on two in the last line, that's not good defense!"

vs Dortmund: Counter

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Dortmund have eight men sitting deep as Bayern get forward in numbers. Here Pavard gets even in front of the DM as he ventures toward his favored scoring positions. It's 2-on-2 in the last line, once again. A clearance to the forward line turns into Reus, unpressured, releasing Haaland past everybody.

vs Dortmund: Second Goal

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Again Bayern have a 3-5-2 shape and Dortmund work down one flank to create initiative in the center. Here the forward line is pressing distribution out of defense (because Davies knows he is not just an attacking winger). However, Davies is still drawn infield to AM Brandt later in the play, leaving the LCB to chase the ball down the flank. This (again) creates 2-on-2 in the last line, with Reus and Haaland showing good movement to create the chance.

At first glance, it's a tough bounce for Upamecano. However, he did well enough to cut off the cross to Haaland after being left in that 2-on-2. The problem is Dortmund have two more free runners into the box and Bayern are fundamentally outnumbered.

RWB Coman, again, plays strictly as an attacker even though he's not one of the leading 2 in the 3-5-2 to start. Nobody else is there to cover his wing but he ends this play in the center of the pitch. Defending with 7 versus defending with 8.

vs Mainz: Goal

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Posted this one already in the Observations discussion. Unlike the Dortmund goals, this one comes in transition when Bayern give away the ball deep in their own half. The CBs get disjointed, and again there are two free runners out of midfield.

I'll put this one on Pavard first for committing hard to the wing runner. He may be thinking Upa is there to cover, but when he does, that's 2/3 of Bayern's CBs out on the wing, and 2 Mainz strikers running into the box. But Sané and Davies are also not switched on.


Keep in mind Bayern went on to win both these games, and conceded just the three goals. However, it looks like considerable confusion in defensive responsibilities. As well as a tactic for opposing managers to exploit: drag at least one CB away, especially down the wing, and create 2-on-2 attacking situations in center.The RWB/RCB side currently occupied by Coman and Pavard seems especially vulnerable to this, and it does not help that in Bayern's asymmetric setup this is the more defensive flank opposite Davies.

Bayern seem a lot more focused on attacking and intensity than defensive structure. Is it their instructions, or habits outside of the system? It'll be interesting to see if this changes over time.

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