Arsenal 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.
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.
Boateng made the second individual mistake, missing his coverage.
I still give credit for Arsenal for putting together a strong, energetic midfield early on. The next three shots show how they deployed.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Once red carded, the Gunners tightened up even more! Sometimes outnumbering the ball carrier to the point where it was difficult to get going.
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.
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.
Being on top of his game, Kroos also wanted to get throughballs going.
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.
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.
Statistics from whoscored.com and UEFA.