Bayern Munich – RasenBallsport Leipzig: Kane Has Another Team To Keep Competitive (2-1)

Harry Kane moved to the Bundesliga to fulfil domestic and European success, but he has become acclimatized to keeping underperforming and disinterested teams from sinking further. To keep Bayern Munich in the title talk, Kane delivered two goals to skip past a tough RasenBallsport Leipzig side.

Tactical analysis and match report by Joel Parker.

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The wider football world has revered Bayern as the smart, dominating superpower that is always competing on all fronts; so when it is not, it is a pretty significant deal.

Three defeats in a row have drastically altered their season. Bayer Leverkusen comfortably ruled over them to add points to their top spot, followed by a poor performance away to Lazio. Things appeared normal at Vfl Bochum until three goals were shifted in. Bayern’s long title reign has never been under more threat, Thomas Tuchel has already announced he is to depart at the end of the season and Bayern were in desperate need to get back into winning ways.

Perhaps the best time to travel to the Allianz Arena, but RB Leipzig were not in the greatest of shapes themselves. With just two wins since the return from the winter break, Marco Rose’s team was facing pressure from Borussia Dortmund for the fourth spot, who have found some solid ground.

Three changes were made from the defeat at Bochum. Noussair Mazraoui was forced off in that game, replaced by Alexander Pavlović as Joshua Kimmich was moved to right-back. Eric Dier also came into the defense for Min-jae Kim and Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting was replaced by Leroy Sané.

Rose made two changes from the team that beat Borussia Möchengladbach. Lukas Klostermann was changed for Mohamed Simakan and Yussuf Poulsen was replaced by Benjamin Šeško.

Bayern struggle to build a beat

Regardless of the coach, Bayern have usually identified the 4-2-3-1 formation as one of their traditional set-ups, but under Tuchel, their possession play has not sparked into life like some of the other coaches have been able to ignite. This is a team loaded with attacking talent, able to fashion chances in scrappier circumstances. Harry Kane almost had the ball in the net after four minutes, after Aleksandar Pavlović picked a long ball out for Thomas Müller, sparked by a failed Leipzig attack. Kane enabled the ball to move from right to left before Raphaël Guerreiro picked out the striker at the center of the goal, but a phenomenal save from Janis Blaswich tipped the ball onto the post.

Fast breaks, like this one, would not be the common method that Bayern could attack from, as Leipzig arranged themselves in a 4-4-2 medium block. Leipzig’s midfield line was flat, covering the narrow spaces that Bayern where trying to exploit and not engaging with Bayern centrally. Two variables denied Bayern the ability to circulate effectively. Firstly, the distance between Eric Dier and Matthijs de Ligt was close and passes between the two were not only slow but failed to open up more progressive angles outward. Leon Goretzka tried to alleviate such issues by joining the first line of the buildup, but Dani Olmo’s inward presses denied Bayern’s ability to move the ball out towards Guerreiro and keep the circulation clean.

9th minute: A long ball from Eric Dier connected with Müller, but was indicative of their buildup issues. Goretzka had stepped between the center-backs to circulate, but distances between them failed to open up better angles to progress through the lines. Bayern attackers were not in golden positions to attack, nor could move behind Leipzig’s fullbacks.

Bayern’s ability in the buildup was also affected by the lack of wide pinning against Leipzig’s defensive line. Both Jamal Musiala and Leroy Sané were charged with receiving the ball in the halfspace, whilst Müller bounced between each channel, often higher and wider. Without the pinning on the far side, it was difficult for Bayern to keep momentum in their attacks and ultimately, their front four was very disconnected as a result.

Musiala was the most comfortable picking up the ball in narrow pockets and receiving on the half turn. Bayern were a lot more dangerous when they were able to find Musiala earlier in the buildup, against a Leipzig block that defended further up in the opposition half. Amadou Haidara struggled to deal with these engagements, but Bayern struggled to build upon these moments because no runs would be triggered towards Musiala’s right side. Kane made his runs across Musiala as he dribbled towards the center, curving his run around Simakan as Benjamin Henrichs stepped inward to stop the pass. Without another runner, Leipzig could focus more on dropping towards the center of their box and closing more spaces from opening.

24th minute: Bayern’s only buildup method towards the Leipzig goal. As Musiala slalomed around Haidara, he dribbled the ball more towards the center and Kane moved into Simakan’s blind side. The pass to Kane was intercepted by Simakan before reaching the penalty area.

When Sané was in a position to support this move, it created a lot more problems for Willi Orbán, but Bayern still could not find a shot. On the thirty-third minute, Musiala slid the ball perfectly for Sané to sprint onto. Rather than shooting with the goal at his mercy, the extra touch completley closed the angle as Blaswich scrambled and defenders recovered in the six yard box.

After zero shots in half an hour of football, Bayern finished the first half with more frantic efforts being taken, but to very little success. A Kane overhead kick would have papered over cracks, but Bayern had remained unproductive and Leipzig where hardly threatened.

Central Leipzig find more fluency

Bayern eventually found one of their patterns to work as Kane struck early in the second half. Dier was able to find Guerreiro, positioned behind Olmo, and Musiala was positioned in the halfspace ready to drive the ball towards goal. As he skipped past Xaver Schlager, Kane got into Simakan’s blindside again and Musiala poked the ball into the striker’s path. A powerful shot into the bottom corner, a valuable goal for Bayern, but the game state had started to change from the start of the second period.

Leipzig started to hold more of the ball and where arranged in a very aggressive manner. Schlager dropped to the left of Orbán to create a back three, which pushed Simakan further out on the right side and had Haidara taking up different positions around the center, which not only disrupted Kane and Müller’s staggered positions but could also see Pavlović move out of the midfield line to engage with Haidara.

62nd minute: Buildup to Šeško chance. Haidara’s position took Pavlović out of the midfield and space opened for Simons to connect. With the center-backs split, and behind the midfield line, Simons was able to take the ball to the edge of the box and Šeško found space as Dier was forced to engage.

This had consequences for Bayern, as both Xavi Simons and Olmo were in positions to receive on the turn and with two strikers in the box, making runs. After the Bayern goal, Šeško got into positions to take a number of good opportunities. The first came more fortuitously, as Müller’s attempted switch was hacked away from Henrichs and put Šeško through after his touch took the ball away from De Ligt. Manuel Neuer’s strong hand denied him close to goal.

The next came from the aforementioned scenario that Leipzig built, with Pavlović high to interact with Haidara, Schlager was in a position to receive and had the angle to connect with Simons, positioned between Kimmich and Goretzka. Simons found Šeško, but his first touch made his attempt more difficult to execute in such a short time span. Neuer collected more comfortably.

Tuchel attempted to plug such gaps, Konrad Laimer replaced Müller and Mathys Tel came on for Sané. This saw Laimer take up a defensive position that was a lot closer to the inside ten, which was now Olmo who had situationally switched with Simons. However, Orbán dribbling into the final third unravelled the defensive arrangement and Olmo had enough space to turn and take Dier out of the equation. Šeško attempted the near post, but a deflection off Goretzka took the ball past Neuer and Leipzig equalized with twenty minutes left.

Kane denies further Bayern blushes

Despite good central combinations, Leipzig’s attacking capabilities were gone after they had scored. Leipzig no longer had settled spells on the ball, against a more passive Bayern block now that Bayern had to search for another goal. In possession, Bayern still struggled to effectively progress, but with strikers as good as Kane on the field, you are going to fashion something for him to latch onto. Kimmich’s cross was almost that moment, dinking the ball into Goretzka’s path, who flicked on for Kane to have a header close to goal, but this time it sailed over the crossbar.

Tuchel rolled the dice again, this time changing into a back three, with the introduction of Kim, and opted for more directness as opposed to creative forwards driving the ball in the halfspaces: off came Musiala, on came Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting.

Although the addition of the extra striker was made, it was Leipzig who where holding possession more in the last ten minutes but more aggressive interactions, higher up the field from Bayern, made it more difficult for Leipzig to build through the lines.

Time was running out for Bayern but directness can sometimes fall into your favor. Dier’s long ball from the center circle reached Choupo-Moting, who controlled and hooked the ball back into the path of Kane. Kane struck on the half-volley for a crucial winner.


Leipzig left Munich safe in the knowledge that their strikers are still potent, but a limited attack of their own should have threatened a Bayern team that is in a more vulnerable state than usual.

No team has recovered a eight-point deficit, this late in the season, to win the Bundesliga title. Signs point towards Bayern losing its crown, and the lack of methods on the ball describes the short-termism that Bayern have leaned towards in recent months – something that Kane joined the Bavarian giants to move away from. But if there is one player, whose career has had this element bestowed upon them, and who has carried his team into competitive territory, it is Kane.

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Joel Parker (21) is an Everton fan. Whenever he’s not watching his beloved Everton, Joel spends his time analyzing all sorts of football. Chief editor and Founder of Toffee Analysis. [ View all posts ]


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