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“I’m the one who likes to pull apart opponent’s defense” — Julian Nagelsmann speaks on his tactical philosophy at Bayern Munich

Minimizing team’s width and overloading the penalty area remain two key features of Nagelsmann’s game plan at Bayern Munich.

Borussia Mönchengladbach - Bayern Munich Photo by Federico Gambarini/picture alliance via Getty Images

In a guest appearance on DAZN’s latest program ‘DECOD3D’, Julian Nagelsmann gave a detailed explanation of the tactical philosophy he has implemented at Bayern Munich. Alongside his former boss and German football pioneer Ralf Rangnick, Nagelsmann elaborated on what he expects from his players while defending, utilizing spaces on field and the attacking strategy of his team.

“Most opponents stand deep and count on counterattacking for their biggest chances. That demands a few things from you as a team: that you have a certain idea of how you want to open the game,” explained Nagelsmann (as captured by Tz). “Some coaches love to play with a very wide back four to pull the opponent apart in midfield. I’m more of a coach who likes to pull apart the opponent’s defensive chain and try to create more spaces in the front third there.”


Above all, Nagelsmann wants his players to remain compact and close down spaces in the central areas, in order to nullify any potential threats for counter-attacks.

“So, we have a formation that certainly looks different than many other teams. It’s about keeping the midfield chain rather tight and using the two wingers to pull the defensive line apart from the opponent,” said the 34-year old. “It’s always important to me that we keep the center closed. We often have two back-up players against one of the opponent’s top players. We then have three sixes, which keep the center compact and we have a lot of personnel in the counterpressing. The opponent should not have this direct path through the center.”

Similar to Germany manager Hansi Flick, Nagelsmann also emphasizes on overloading the penalty area when his team moves into the final-third. Not only does this approach provide more targets for crossers, it also helps his team win ‘second balls’ and subsequently, capitalize on the opponent’s disorganised state.

FC Barcelona v Bayern Munchen: Group E - UEFA Champions League Photo by Urbanandsport/NurPhoto via Getty Images

“With personnel in the box, you tie up opponents. The opponent already has less counter-attacking personnel,” Nagelsmann stated. “When we shoot on goal, the probability of scoring is much higher because a rebound bounces to us. When you have five or six players in the sixteen, you get almost every other ball. Your counter-pressing becomes much easier and the probability of scoring easy goals becomes higher.”

Bayern Munich are fortunate to have been managed by two tactical masterminds in the last two years. While Hansi Flick has proved that he has the ‘winning formula’, it will be interesting to see how Nagelsmann’s plan fares against the elite teams in knockout stages of the UEFA Champions League.

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