Bayern Munich – Fortuna Düsseldorf: Brilliant Bayern Dominate Düsseldorf (5-0)
Hansi Flick sent out his side with a mandate to dominate and Bayern Munich did just that in a blistering display against Fortuna Düsseldorf. Uwe Rösler’s side arrived with an intention to compete, but were hammered in a game that was largely an exhibition of Bayern’s credentials as the favourites to win an eighth consecutive Bundesliga title.
Tactical analysis and match report by Manasvin Andra.
Having seized the initiative in the title race with their midweek win over Borussia Dortmund, Bayern faced an altogether easier assignment in the form of relegation candidate Fortuna Düsseldorf. Prior to this game the away side had secured an impressive win over David Wagner’s struggling Schalke 04, but the occupants of the Allianz Arena posed a far superior challenge that Düsseldorf simply could not meet.
The home side made just one change from their win over Eintracht Frankfurt, with Lucas Hernández replacing Jérôme Boateng as David Alaba’s partner in defense. This caused Alaba to switch over as the right-sided center-back. However, the rest of the defense bore a familiar look with Benjamin Pavard and Alphonso Davies retaining their spots as fullbacks. Ahead of them sat the pivot of Leon Goretzka and Joshua Kimmich, who supported attacking midfielder Thomas Müller and wingers Serge Gnabry and Kingsley Coman. As always, Bayern’s focal point remained the outstanding Robert Lewandowski, who took a huge step towards equalling Gerd Müller’s record of forty goals with a brace against the visitors.
The visitors made a handful of changes as they switched from a 3-4-3 formation to a 4-1-4-1 structure, with Niko Gießelmann, Andre Hoffman, Zanka and Matthias Zimmerman making up the defense ahead of goalkeeper Florian Kastenmeir. The midfield was anchored by Adam Bodzek, with Erik Thommy, Kevin Stöger, Alfredo Morales and Steven Skrzybski ahead of him providing support to lone striker Kenan Karaman.
Bayern seize the early initiative
Bayern have made a habit of drawing first blood by scoring in the first fifteen minutes under Hansi Flick, and this game was no different as Pavard forced Düsseldorf defender Zanka into an own goal to open the scoring. However, what was notable was the way Bayern were set up before the opening goal, as they took up residence in Düsseldorf territory for the entirety of the first half.
With Düsseldorf not as adept as Dortmund at running in behind defenses, Bayern held a high line with the central defenders directing play in the first phase. David Alaba was outstanding in this regard, as he orchestrated Bayern’s offensive movements from just inside his own half. With Kimmich dropping into the defense when Bayern had the ball, the fullbacks were given license to push up high, which spread Düsseldorf thin as they attempted to block passing lanes into the widely positioned fullbacks.
Rather than attempting to sit in their own half, Düsseldorf decided to go with a 4-1-4-1 shape with no less than four midfielders pressing Bayern in the buildup phase. This quickly became a 4-5-1 medium block A medium block refers to a team that retreats in their own half out of possession, generally only disrupting their opponents some way into their own half. when Bayern progressed the ball beyond the first line of pressure. However, the away side faced immense problems in transitioning to this defensive structure due to the speed with which Bayern moved the ball between the lines.
Snapshot of Bayern’s offensive movements. Alaba was instrumental in helping Bayern build from the back, routinely striding into midfield to supplement the home side’s numbers in the middle.
The result of Düsseldorf’s curious formation was that their wingers had to constantly track Bayern’s advanced fullbacks, which allowed the interior players to present themselves as passing options for Kimmich and Alaba. With Goretzka sticking to his position as a holding midfielder, Bayern ensured the presence of a safe outlet in the middle, allowing Gnabry and Müller to offer themselves as passing outlets with Bayern launching wave after wave of attacks against a beleaguered Düsseldorf defense.
Positional rotation leaves Düsseldorf disoriented
Bayern constantly made movements to overload When one team has more players in a certain area or zone than the other team. the right wing and halfspace, with Pavard, Müller and Coman rapidly switching positions to disorient the Düsseldorf defense. Pavard in particular played a key role in ensuring this overload, as he often moved inside to establish the base of the passing triangles. With Davies given free rein over the left wing, the overload liberated Gnabry to play a free role in the middle, and the winger floated around the pitch as he alternated between partnering Lewandowski in the box and linking up with Davies on the left.
With Bayern making sharp movements to create options in advanced areas and engaging in one-touch passing to escape pressure, the goals flowed thick and fast. The first arrived in the fifteenth minute as Müller pounced on a loose ball in the middle, and put the ball in the box for Gnabry. The winger then cut the ball back to Pavard, who failed to make clean contact with the ball. Zanka made a mistake as he attempted to clear the ball before Kimmich’s arrival at the far post, and he ended up putting the ball into his own goal. However, Pavard was not to be denied, as he powered home his first – and Bayern’s second – in the 29th minute from a Kimmich corner.
Lewandowski was up next, as the striker began and finished a move in the 43rd minute which earned him the honour of having scored against every single team in the Bundesliga. There was one more in store for the brilliant striker after the break, as an improvised flick through Kastenmeir’s legs saw him complete a brace against the visitors.
Bayern counterpress snuffs out Düsseldorf resistance
With the game all but won going into half-time, Flick introduced Mickaël Cuisance in place of Hernandez. This saw Kimmich move to center-back, with Alaba returning to his position as the left-sided center-back. The switch underlined the ‘position-less’ nature of this Bayern side, with nearly every player capable of playing at an exceptionally high level in a variety of roles.
Kimmich was moved to the center-back position after Cuisance was introduced. With Goretzka moving into advanced areas, the second half was all about offense and was a good advertisement for Cuisance’s quality in the middle.
In any case, Bayern adjusted seamlessly to the half-time substitution, which also saw Gnabry and Coman change flanks. Neither move lessened the extent of Bayern’s domination, as they overwhelmed Düsseldorf whose defensive disorganisation was ensured by the intelligent movement of Bayern’s attackers.
Still, the away side had a couple of opportunities to dent the score, as Bayern’s eager pressing in midfield and lack of defensive cover left gaps in behind which could be exploited by the Düsseldorf runners. There were a couple of instances – in the 32nd and 61st minute – when Rösler’s side should have cut the lead, but Karaman’s inability to get clean contact and the general lack of a proper final ball killed their chances of getting back into the game.
Additionally, the intensity of Bayern’s press was such that Düsseldorf were often left confounded by the speed with which the home side stopped their breakaways and stripped them of the ball, and the away side’s inability to get back into position quickly meant that Müller and Coman often found themselves in oceans of space. This exacerbated Düsseldorf’s already serious problem with regard to defensive transitions, and the away side was perhaps lucky not to concede in the closing stages as the ball failed to drop for Bayern’s ravenous attackers.
A Bundesliga campaign that promised a lot is likely coming to a familiar end, though no one can begrudge Bayern for lifting the Meisterschale this season. Since Flick’s appointment, their level of play has reached heights not seen since Guardiola commanded the Allianz Arena, and Bayern will rightfully be regarded as favourites if – and when – the Champions League resumes.
For Düsseldorf, the fight to stay in the league continues and it would be harsh to judge Uwe Rösler based on this single match result. The German has managed to turn Düsseldorf’s fortunes around having gone unbeaten in six straight games before this meeting, and a defeat to Bayern ought not to be a stain on what is otherwise shaping up to be an impressive CV.
Use the arrows to scroll through all available match plots. Click to enlarge.
Check the match plots page for plots of other matches.