Arsenal Bayern analysis

Analysis: Bayern shakes but kills Arsenal’s left flank

Arsenal Bayern analysisArsenal Bayern analysis: if anything has to be remembered from the first leg at Arsenal in the Champions League, it is how lack of confidence could have cost FC Bayern a few goals, while good use of the hosts’ weakness  on the left flank was made profitable. Let’s take a look at the tactics and then the statistics.

Tactical points

Very early on, FCB was nervous. As a result, its defending was poor and the Reds could have been in big trouble, had that Özil penalty been converted. But how was it conceded? You cannot just blame Jérôme Boateng for the mistake. The real culprit was Javi Martinez. Despite having a lot of support in the middle, he was shaky and he conceded possession cheaply.

Javi 1

Boateng made the second individual mistake, missing his coverage.

Double oops

I still give credit for Arsenal for putting together a strong, energetic midfield early on. The next three shots show how they deployed.

Arsenal midfield
Arsenal midfield
5 guys against 10

Arsenal midfield

Bayern progressively improved its reactions to prevent the Arsenal attack. Look at how quickly they reset their positions, in shutdown mode.


We usually see two guys in the middle. As time advanced, Bayern instead went for a third man, putting Kroos, Javi and Thiago in the same zone to have a bit more control.


Javi Martinez wasn’t having a good game in there, though. He lost the ball many times, as he did on the following play.

Javi 2
Tip of the toe, then out of reach.

FCB lost a great number of air battles early on, and unfortunately some important ones. Mario Mandzukic was well covered, not finding solutions against defenders.

Standing up to Luigi

Even before going down to 10 men, Arsenal was already tight at the back while Bayern didn’t produce the runs needed to open things up.

Arsenal defending
Parked bus

Toni Kroos turned the game around. His first important pass was the one that gave FCB a penalty. The timing was perfect and it reminded me of some of Liverpool’s passes last Sunday.

Kroos pass
Over the top

Once red carded, the Gunners tightened up even more!  Sometimes outnumbering the ball carrier to the point where it was difficult to get going.

10 men

The second half was more interesting from a Bavarian standpoint. That’s when they used Arsenal’s weakness on the left flank to create more chances. Look at how Mesut Özil failed to track back when Rafinha was the target of a Kroos pass towards the area.

Rafinha going clear

In my preview, I said that Bayern needed to produce neat throughballs, just as Liverpool did last weekend. They finally did, beating Nacho Monreal’s coverage at left-back and Özil’s lack of effort.

Robben to Rafinha

Being on top of his game, Kroos also wanted to get throughballs going.

Kroos throughball
That was pretty

How Bayern scored

Kroos goal. That’s not complicated. On the flank again, Arsenal failed to cover Kroos as Lahm was carrying the ball and deciding whether he should run down or pass to his left. He went for the assist.

Kroos goal

Müller goal. This one was perfect execution. Lahm saw that Müller was ready for a quick run, outpacing the Arsenal defence. Which was getting tired and usually fails to match pace.

Müller goal

Statistical points

My man of the match
Toni Kroos. 97% passing rate (152 passes), three shots on target out of three attempts, one goal, 4 accurate crosses out of 7, 3 key passes. Wow.
Super accuracy
95% of passes completed! A Champions League record. Although you could say that the second half display was almost risk-free.
Manuel Neuer
One penalty saved, dealt with four shots on target.
Javi Martinez
Struggled early on (3 fouls) but recovered form as central defender. 10 clearances in 10 attempts. Two interceptions. One shot blocked.
Arjen Robben
Great runs and 5 shots on target, although some finishing may have been helpful.
Air battles
Despite some improvements, FCB struggled there. Only 42% of such challenges won.

Statistics from and UEFA.

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