Everyone drew their own conclusions about the lineup Bayern fielded against Hamburger SV. All kinds of shapes were proposed and posted. In the end, Jupp Heynckes kept his tactics simple against a simple team.
Put simply, HSV must hate coming to the Allianz Arena. They have conceded upwards of 50 goals in their last 10 trips to München. A high-scoring defeat has almost become a tradition for them at this point. Saturday brought more of the same.
HSV do all things wrong
I point this out because of a very basic principle. Simple problems rarely demand complex solutions. And while HSV’s prolonged suffering certainly obeys to factors larger than tactics, the fact remains that they did not do themselves any favours.
Let’s start with the basics. The commentators for ESPN Latin América pointed an interesting thing out. HSV’s precarious situation means that they are constantly doing maths. In the grand scheme of their season, a visit to the Allianz Arena is a losable game. This brings a conundrum: should they sit back and defend, or come out for the game? On Saturday, they chose to come out. But they got it all backwards.
High pressure, high inefficiency
If you come out for the game, you press high, right? Put simply, yes. However, it is easier said than done. In the screenshot above, you see HSV pushing upfield on Bayern’s build-up from the back. Six men are committed to the pressure, but they are doing it entirely wrong. The line is not solid and it is irregular. The striker is already behind the ball, rendering his effort useless. And finally, but perhaps more crucially, none of them is pressing on potential receivers. They are simply taking up space that is not being used by Bayern players.
The important thing to see in this screenshot is Franck Ribéry. He is standing all by himself, with acres of space. By now, teams should know that Ribéry loses possession more easily. Not marking him is a bit daft. Indeed, being unmarked is what allowed him to run into space for the first goal.
I did not choose these timestamps to illustrate HSV’s ineptitude randomly. This sequence ended with the second goal. HSV made it excessively easy.
To compound this quick panorama of getting things wrong, the above screenshot shows how HSV generally looked when they had to defend close to their own box. Arturo Vidal is about to cross in. HSV have seven – SEVEN – men inside the box. They are not organised and I frankly cannot tell who is a defender or a midfielder or where they actually should be. Still, three of them decide to run towards Vidal to press him before he makes the cross. That leaves a hole in the box. Müller has identified it and is moving towards it.
Now, this sequence did not yield a goal, but it does show you how bad HSV are. Proper defending does not simply mean crowding the box.
In sum, HSV practically annulled themselves, even before considering Bayern’s own tactical scheme.
Heynckes fooled us all
As I said before, nobody got Bayern’s tactical shape right. On our social media, we posted it as a 4-1-2-2-1 of sorts based on what came out in FC Bayern’s mobile app, with Javi Martínez sitting in the middle and the rest of the midfield creating a sort of diamond with Robert Lewandowski. The Bundesliga’s official broadcast showed a 4-3-3, with Vidal and Thomas Müller flanking Martínez in the midfield.
All Jupp said was lol.
Here is how Bayern really shaped up:
Damn and blast, it’s the 4-2-3-1! Heynckes refrained from doing anything too complicated. Vidal and Martínez sat in the midfield. Ribéry, Müller and Arjen Robben composed the attacking midfield trio. We know by now what kind of implications this 4-2-3-1 brings. The full-backs provide overlapping runs on the wingers. The centre-backs are in charge of the build-up from the back. Jérôme Boateng tries a lot of long balls. In attack, Müller runs about as he pleases, prying for spaces in the defence.
Perhaps the only noteworthy thing was Vidal running a lot vertically, to be present in both phases of play. Here he is doing that:
All of those conventional weapons yielded six goals for Bayern. There is no need to go nuclear on a team that brings knives to a gunfight.