Bayern kicked Eintracht Frankfurt hard in an interesting game. Die Roten’s future manager Niko Kovač tried to use pressure to neutralise the young Bavarian side but had that pressure used against him.
Don’t you like a bit of ghoulish fascination? Before travelling to Madrid for a make-or-break game, Bayern had to play against their incoming manager. To make things that much more interesting, Jupp Heynckes lined four youth players up.
Dynamism from Frankfurt
It’s not uncommon to find that teams playing against Bayern want to find a balance between defensive solidity and the ability to attack. Indeed, Kovač wanted to sort this conundrum out as well. However, the Croatian’s solution was one I’d never seen, and indeed one that is way more interesting than any of the others.
Kovać installed a dynamic lineup, but not one based on midfield mobility. Rather, he used the backline as the basis.
In the above shot, for instance, Frankfurt play on the build-up with three men at the back. Omar Mascarell is aiding by trailing back and presenting himself as a passing option. Indeed, Mascarell ran about the pitch in all places. He is Kovač’s Arturo Vidal equivalent.
The result is that Frankfurt could amass numbers at the back and press high, as we can see here.
Frankfurt players know the motions of a counterattack and were able to initiate those with up to six men. Kovač’s system is indeed noteworthy and intelligent. It is like a 3-6-1 or 4-4-2 or many other things. It can take plenty of shapes. Such numbers in the attacking motions meant that Frankfurt could overwhelm Bayern’s midfield and back line. This forced Mats Hummels to come forward to cut passes, but it did not always work. Sometimes the odd pass came through and troubled Bayern.
Here is where Bayern’s quality shows up. The tremendous amount of mobility in Frankfurt’s system demands a superb inclination for order and conscience from the players. Whenever they fail to concentrate and are found out of position, the pressure is turned against them. This happened in the first goal.
Sandro Wagner received a through ball in the midst of what should have been a four-man backline but ended up having only three players. This allowed Dorsch to come into the box unmarked and in space for the pass.
Conservatism from Bayern
Perhaps due to the fact that there were so many youth players involved, Jupp Heynckes opted to keep things simple. He installed a 4-3-3. There are many reasons for this. Every single one of the youth players was part of a multiple-man line. This gives the youth players some help in all areas of the pitch. It was important for Heynckes that nobody had an excessive responsibility, similar to the one Javi Martínez has in the 4-1-4-1 scheme.
Bayern kept true to this system throughout the game. The only tactical change came with Niklas Süle’s introduction, which saw the team adopt a 4-5-1 of sorts. It is interesting to see that Süle is developing some versatility and can play in midfield if so required. The circumstances of the debutants and the upcoming game against Real Madrid made this game a matter of quality for Bayern, who constantly abused Frankfurt’s dynamism.
The second goal came with a mistake in Frankfurt’s build-up, where we have established that they play with three men at the back. Sebastian Rudy and Wagner teamed up to cash in on the mistake.
No clues for Tuesday
The one thing this game did not provide was clues about Jupp Heynckes changes, if any, for Tuesday. He rested most of the potential starters, yes. However, the fact remains that there is no indication of what Bayern will do to turn things around in Madrid.
Wagner, on his part, continued to present arguments to be considered as a starter at the Santiago Bernabéu. Time will tell.