Let’s take a look at why the match between Bayern Munich and Hoffenheim played out like it did.
In this analysis, we will focus on the following:
- Bayern’s attacking approach against Hoffenheim.
- How Hoffenheim capitalized on Bayern’s “false” wing-backs.
- What changed in the second half.
Bayern Munich’s attacking approach against Hoffenheim
Despite having a 3-4-1-2 on paper, Hoffenheim defended using a 5-4-1 middle-low block as such (A). To combat this, Bayern used a 3-2-2-3 in attack (B), having their wing-backs act as wide wingers, allowing their inside forwards to drop between the lines. Doing so, engaged Hoffenheim’s center-backs with Bayern’s inside forwards, allowing Bayern’s wing-backs to get into favourable 1v1 positions as a result (C).
Since Bayern’s inside forwards were now completely surrounded (D), they opted going long to take advantage of those 1v1 situations created (E). With central progression made difficult, Bayern also created wide overloads to launch attacks. Here, diagonal crosses were often sent (F), with 3-4 players making simultaneous runs into the box. This was another way Bayern threatened in the first half, creating a plethora of chances as a result.
How Hoffenheim capitalized on Bayern’s false wing-backs
As Hoffenheim built play from the back, Bayern set up in a 5-3-2 press. This completely matched Hoffenheim’s central midfield, forcing play to be built from wide areas instead (G). At this point, Bayern’s wingback pressed forward like a wide winger, resulting in a 4-3-3 press as such (H). If you look closely, there is now a plethora of space to be attacked by Hoffenheim. Here, we often saw David Raum get the better of Serge Gnabry, often making runs/third-man runs into that space (I), making Bayern look vulnerable.
At this point, the spotlight goes to Bayern’s opposite wing-back. Due to positional inexperience, Bayern’s opposite wing-back was not able to consistently drop into fullback positions to create a back-4. Creating a back-four is important as it reduces potential gaps for the opposition to attack (J).
Instead, Bayern’s opposite wing-back tracked back into inverted, central midfield positions, resulting in Bayern’s back three spreading themselves thin, becoming more vulnerable (K). This is what caused Hoffenheim’s equalizer, as Gnabry fell into midfield positions instead of covering fullback positions where the goal was eventually scored.
From this point, both teams kept exploiting each other’s weaknesses, making for a thrilling back and forth encounter. That is, until both teams changed their approach in the 2nd half.
What changed in the second half
Recall in the first half, Bayern set up in a 3-2-2-3 in order to counteract Hoffenheim’s 5-4-1. Here, Bayern’s inside forwards were completely surrounded, resulting in a more long-ball approach to chance creation. In the second half, this changed.
Instead of Bayern’s midfield pivot staying deep alongside their center-backs as in the first half (B), they roamed forward as such (L). Here, Bayern isolated their center-backs purposely, in order to draw Hoffenheim’s press forward. Doing so, resulted Hoffenheim pressing with a 5-2-3, allowing more space in midfield for ball progression to occur (M).
At this point, Bayern overloaded Hoffenheim’s midfield 4v2 creating the following shape, allowing attacks to now be progressed centrally (N). This central overload, allowed for quick, one-touch interchanges through Hoffenheim’s midfield, at which Bayern attacked as a unit, still having the option to go wide or be direct. This is why we saw more short-passes into Hoffenheim’s final third in the second half. A change in tactics which added another dimension to Bayern’s attacks, while still allowing them to go long.
In the second half, we also saw Bayern deal with the wide threat Hoffenheim presented in attack. As opposed to defending using a 5-3-2 as in the 1st half, Bayern defending using a 5-2-3 instead (O). What this did, was it allowed Muller to press forward as a winger when Bayern created a 4-3-3 high press. This relieved Bayern’s wingbacks of that responsibility, implementing them in a wide midfield position instead (P). This did two things:
1) it allowed Bayern’s wing-backs to press from deeper positions, resulting in them not being caught out as much as in the first half (Q)
2) it allowed Bayern to press more aggressively up top, forcing Hoffenheim to stop building play through short passes, and instead build play via long balls (R).
All in all, these tactical changes allowed Bayern to threaten more in the second half, but unfortunately, they were not able to capitalize.