Bayern start with a narrow formation
Bayern Munich entered the game with a high-intensity press that aimed to stifle Barcelona’s build-up, and succeeded to a great extent in the first 10-15 minutes. It did tend to get nervy at times, especially with the dangerous high line, but the Bavarians slowly asserted dominance. However, the end product in the final third was lacking, and that could’ve been a result of the players not using the width properly.
Narrow, direct passing led to great ball progression and some really neat moves into the final third (The sequence leading to Müller’s goal comes to mind) but without width and full-back overlaps, the ball begged to be put into the net. And then came the strategic improvements in the second half.
Nagelsmann is probably very good at pep talks
The entire team simply looked like a different beast in the second half. Nagelsmann seems to be very good at recognizing deficiencies and making the necessary adjustments for instant impact, and this game was no different. Davies and Pavard were more active in their overlaps, Musiala and Sané used the width to devastating effect, and 10 minutes in, Bayern were 2-0 up. And they kept Barcelona pinned in their own half for the rest of the game.
A few minor tweaks led to Bayern thoroughly outclassing Barca in every facet. If the coach continues in this manner, it wouldn’t be a far cry to suggest that another sextuple could be on the cards.
Now that is a treble-caliber defense
Bayern Munich, the club that loves to press all the time, also kept a clean sheet against Barcelona and didn’t allow them a single shot on target. Let that sink in.
The defense outshone every other department today, and for good reason. Dayot Upamecano was insanely good. He was everywhere at the back, making great clearances, interceptions, and superb blocks. He was also immense with ball progression and passing. His compatriot Süle was no slouch either. The imposing German put in yet another rock-solid shift, and with Lucas Hernandez also making a solid cameo, Bayern probably have the best CB rotation in Europe. Just need to get Süle to extend, and our defense should be sorted for the next 7-8 years at the very least.
Tommy boy scores against his favorite opponent (again)
Müller loves scoring against Barcelona, and yet again, Bayern Munich’s talisman grabbed another timely goal from long range to take the gas off Barca’s effort. This goal is his 7th against Barcelona in the UCL, cementing his spot as the all-time Champions League top scorer against the Catalans.
Lewandowski cannot be denied
Death, taxes, injuries at Bayern and Lewandowski scoring: the 4 inevitables. Barcelona started the game determined to stop Bayern’s hitman from scoring. With their triple-teaming and constant man-marking, they managed to do that for the entirety of the first half. But it stopped there.
The Pole returned to the pitch in the second half on a mission, one he managed to fulfill with aplomb. His movement and positioning got him a goal around 10 minutes into the second half, and some superb skill and a powerful shot completed his brace at the 85th minute. And thus, Barcelona learned their lesson. Lewandowski is the world’s best footballer, and it is close to impossible to keep him from scoring at the moment.
Smart pressing ... W for Nagelsball
Bayern’s performance was excellent, and that was largely due to the ease with which they dominated proceedings. It almost seemed a bit too easy at times. Barcelona are certainly in need of some major restructuring and renovation, but that shouldn’t take any credit away from the Rekordmeister, who are looking at their best right now. It sometimes felt like they were playing on 3rd gear, and this might be another crucial aspect of Nagelsball: smart pressing.
The players knew when to slacken with the pressing and when to increase the tempo. The coach is probably implementing this to ensure that he doesn’t run the players to the ground, and it is working to a charm. Barcelona were thoroughly outclassed, and there are not many clubs in Europe that I’d back against current Bayern. Hopefully, Nagelsmann and co. are able to carry this form through the rest of the season.
Because if they are able to do that, they are in for trophies. Loads of them.