Bayern Munich – Sevilla: Bayern Battle To Extra Time Victory Against Stubborn Sevilla (2-1 A.E.T.)

Ahead of this year’s edition of the Super Cup, many wondered how close Sevilla would come to Bayern Munich as second best. But their status as favorites counted for little, as Sevilla’s hybrid pressing system created many issues, leaving an unlikely hero to take the stage in extra time.

Tactical analysis by Emmanuel Adeyemi-Abere.


Under the guidance of Hansi Flick, Bayern Munich have morphed into a ruthless unit. Storming to domestic dominance, the Bavarian giants crowned a majestic second half of the 2019/20 season with Champions League victory. But the 8-0 rout of Schalke suggests that this team has no intention of basking in the glory of their success, as they now aim to win their fourth piece of silverware in 2020.

Flick sent out the Bavarians in their usual 4-2-3-1 formation. He also made one change to the side that thrashed Schalke, as David Alaba stepped in for Jérôme Boateng at left center-back. Elsewhere, Leroy Sané and Serge Gnabry, who scored four of the eight goals from the imperious display on Friday, retained their places in the team.

If Bayern Munich’s feats reflect the revival of a club, Sevilla’s latest Europa League triumph has restored the fortunes of its manager. Julen Lopetegui has molded a wily outfit, both firm in defense and able to exude calm on the ball. Yet to start their LaLiga campaign, this duel against the treble winners gave them the chance to make a signal of intent.

Lopetegui set up the Andalusian outfit in a 4-3-3 shape. The most notable inclusion was Ivan Rakitić in midfield, who came back to the club after six years in Barcelona. Meanwhile, Luuk de Jong, who starred in the final, began the game upfront.


Sevilla expose major structural issues 

In the opening stages of the game, Bayern looked nervy in possession. Their problems emerged from an inability to progress the ball through Sevilla’s pressure, revealing structural issues in the buildup.

Sevilla pressed in a hybrid defensive system that shifted between a 4-2-3-1 and 4-1-4-1 shape. Rakitić closed down the defensive midfielder on the near side of the ball, leaving de Jong higher between the center-backs. The striker then made sideway runs to isolate the buildup by cutting off access to the open side away from the ball.


Sevilla’s hybrid pressing system.


Lopetegui’s men were able to generate several turnovers in wide zones by luring the ball there with their narrow midfield shape, since they had identified the fullbacks as the target to hinder any ball progression without Alphonso Davies present. As such, the midfield-setup was asymmetrical. Whereas Lucas Ocampos remained deeper, Suso pressed higher in a curved angle towards Lucas Hernández. This run forced the left back to drop deep and receive the ball, making his first touch backward to escape pressure from Jesús Navas.

Given that Sevilla’s right back typically advanced to create access to the ball, Fernando had to drop deeper towards the center-backs to offer cover next to Jules Koundé. As a result, they could control the influence of Sané in the left halfspace. If you divide the field in five vertical lanes, the halfspaces are the lanes that are not on the wing and not in the center. Because there is no touchline like on the wing, players have the freedom to go everywhere. But this zone often is not as well-defended as the very center. This makes it a very valuable offensive zone to play in and a lot of chances are created by passes or dribbles from the halfspace. Finally, Joan Jordán had a variable role. He generally stayed deeper next to the defensive midfielder but was tasked with jumping forward to press Joshua Kimmich if necessary. 

Sevilla’s pressing strategy also worked because of the problems in Bayern’s buildup phase. Through the double pivot Two central midfielders next to each other. of Leon Goretzka and Kimmich, the Bavarians could have doubled up on Rakitić and created access in the center. However, the two center-backs positioned themselves too far from one another to circulate the ball. As a result, de Jong’s angled pressure allowed his team to trap the fullbacks more easily.



And get the small details right

On the other hand, Sevilla executed their buildup smoothly. Both center-backs constantly adjusted their positioning to maintain connections with each other and the fullbacks, resisting Bayern Munich’s pressure. The center-back on the near side of the ball particularly looked to offer a deep option for the fullback, opening access to the far side if Robert Lewandowski lurked on the backpass. These small details became apparent in the 11th minute, where Sevilla used a classic switch of play towards Suso to break into their opponents’ half. 

Receiving from the right winger, Navas whipped a cross and found de Jong, threatening to wreak havoc again in the air. Rakitić then raced onto the striker’s cushioned header, forcing Alaba to impede his stride in the box. The debutant had made an immediate impact to give his team a golden opportunity. Lucas Ocampos then stepped forward to take the penalty. His composed effort rolled past Manuel Neuer, putting Sevilla in the lead.


Issues persist into the final third and transition

After an erratic quarter of an hour, Bayern managed to establish longer phases of possession in Sevilla’s half. Their structure on the ball was flexible, with the four attackers rotating between the halfspaces and the wings. Benjamin Pavard alternated between a deep position on the right and underlapping Underlap means that the full-back joins the offensive play by playing on the inside of the winger he supports. This is the reverse of an overlap, where the full-back plays on the outside and the winger moves inside. through the halfspace, while Hernández mainly held the width on the left flank.



After an erratic quarter of an hour, Bayern managed to establish longer phases of possession in Sevilla’s half. Their structure on the ball was flexible, with the four attackers rotating between the halfspaces and the wings. Benjamin Pavard alternated between a deep position on the right and underlapping through the halfspace, while Hernández mainly held the width on the left flank.

However, their issues with the spacing at the back persisted. Once in the final third, The one-third of the pitch that is closest to the opposition’s goal. a trigger for multiple runs in behind Sevilla’s defense was a backpass to one of the center-backs or Joshua Kimmich. Since Goretzka and Hernández pushed on to penetrate the box, the halfspace on the open side became extremely exposed in transition. Furthermore, the distances between the center-backs were still not ideal for circulating the ball. As a result, several attacks broke down and could have led to dangerous chances were it not for the intensity of Bayern’s counterpressing. After losing possession, a team immediately moves towards the ball as a unit to regain possession, or at least slow down the pace of the counterattack.


19th minute: Bayern’s structural issues at the back become apparent in ball-retention phase as distances between CBs + emphasis on depth runs leave Alaba exposed.


Yet despite these problems, Bayern managed to bag themselves an equalizer. Thomas Müller swung a cross towards the far post, where Lewandowski drifted off the back of Jules Koundé, before laying off the ball. Goretzka arrived onto the striker’s delicate touch, slamming the ball into the net, and leveling the scoreline. 


Second half developments

Though Bayern did not solve their structural issues fully, they made some adjustments in the second half to help reduce their impact. In buildup, Müller began offering himself as a passing option in deeper and wider zones. Additionally, the final third attack became more balanced as wide triangles became more common on the left flank and Hernández occupied the deeper zones on the open side more frequently. 

Meanwhile, Sevilla continued to manipulate their way through Bayern’s aggressive pressing. However, they encountered a familiar issue of struggling to penetrate in the final third from the flanks, as Bayern defended the box well. As a result, the scoreline remained level and seemed bound for extra time.

But as normal time ebbed to a conclusion, En-Nesyri pounced on a miscued clearance from Alaba to race in on goal. Fortunately, Manuel Neuer managed to spare the defender his blushes by palming the striker’s effort away from goal. Cue another 30 minutes of action.



A magical storyline

The first period of extra time threatened to go in a similar fashion to the beginning of the game. Sevilla’s pressing structure again managed to isolate Hernández, forcing turnovers on the left flank. 

Flick reacted with a double substitution, bringing on Davies and Javi Martínez. The changes made the difference, but not in the way one would have expected. Just before the end of the first period of extra time, Bono palmed away a strike from Alaba on the edge of the box. But Martínez rose highest, nodding home the rebound and restoring Bayern’s lead. On the edge of an exit from the club, the defensive midfielder had made a decisive impact.

The German giants then managed to see out the final fifteen minutes, never dropping too deep into their half and claimed a hard-fought win.


Takeaways

Bayern Munich were able to labor to victory, adding the Super Cup to their trophy haul under Flick. However, the departure of Thiago was telling in a game where control of the buildup structure was lacking. As they return to action against TSG Hoffenheim on Sunday, it will be interesting to see how the Bavarians’ game model evolves with their conductor no longer present.

Though the final result was disappointing, Sevilla equipped themselves well to face off against the Champions League holders. The performance affirms their credentials as dark horses for a LaLiga title bid and should leave rivals wary of the multiple challenges they can pose for the season ahead.



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