FC Bayern Munich – Eintracht Frankfurt: Bayern celebrate title-winning victory over Frankfurt’s fragile defense (5-1)
Bayern Munich could win the Bundesliga title for the seventh time in a row. In a game full of Bayern domination against the challenged defensive department of Eintracht Frankfurt, the home side made efficient use of their abundance of scoring opportunities. Frankfurt could not cope with Bayern’s fast and skillful attackers and only scored a consolation goal.
Tactical analysis and match report by Max Bergmann.
Nearly one year since departing Frankfurt, Niko Kovač played his former side with the chance to win the Bundesliga title with Bayern. Eintracht Frankfurt on the other hand were in need of points to stay on the Europa League ranks despite a sensational season under manager Adi Hütter.
Eintracht Frankfurt deployed a 3-5-2 formation as usual, with a double pivot and a playmaker in midfield. Makoto Hasebe played in the center of their back three while wing-backs Danny da Costa and Filip Kostić were supposed to defend and attack down the flanks. In midfield, Jonathan de Guzmán replaced the injured Sebastian Rode. Since Mijat Gaćinović took over the role of the offensive midfielder, usual playmaker Ante Rebić played as an attacker alongside Luka Jović.
Bayern Munich stuck to their typical 4-2-3-1 formation and also played with the same starting lineup as in their previous match against Leipzig. Leon Goretzka paired up with Thiago Alcántara forming the double pivot in midfield. Wide attackers Serge Gnabry and Kingsley Coman went on to play an important role in this match.
Bayern exploit space behind Frankfurt’s wing-backs
One of Frankfurt’s main occurring problems this season is to defend the space behind their high pressing wing-backs. As most teams struggle to outplay Frankfurt’s press, the risk is usually rather low. However, against Bayer Leverkusen (1-6) as well as in this game, Frankfurt faced opposition teams capable of penalizing this offensive approach.
To press Bayern’s buildup, Frankfurt used a man-oriented approach in midfield. With defensive midfielder De Guzmán moving forward to press midfielder Goretzka and Gaćinović marking Thiago Alcántara, Frankfurt used a 3-1-4-2 shape when actively pressing Bayern. Wing-backs Da Costa and Kostić defended the opposition fullbacks which left their back three in a three-versus-three situation at the back.
Bayern can attack three-versus-three up front due to Frankfurt’s high wing-backs and man-oriented approach in the center.
Bayern were able to outplay the press by playing towards their wide attackers who tucked inside. That way, the German record champion did not have to take the risk of losing possession in defensive midfield and Coman as well as Gnabry were superior to their direct opponents. As this approach required them to play long balls at times, Bayern could not deploy a short passing style of game. However, since their midfielders were faster in anticipating second balls, playmaker Müller as well as defensive midfielders Goretzka and Thiago often received balls with the opportunity to start dangerous attacks. Frankfurt then struggled to defend within their own half. As their wing-backs still aimed at defending the opposition fullbacks, Bayern’s wide forwards were given plenty of space. And it took left winger Coman only four minutes to receive the ball between Frankfurt’s right center-back and wing-back and to open the score.
After twelve minutes played, Bayern could have already decided the match. However, striker Robert Lewandowski could not overcome Eintracht goalkeeper Kevin Trapp. For the moment Bayern kept Frankfurt in the game being just one goal up.
Eintracht Frankfurt’s change to a 3-1-4-2 shape
In the first half, Frankfurt was rarely able to progress up the field in possession. Like in their recent games, Frankfurt often utilised long balls towards their attackers. But with striker Sébastian Haller missing up front in the first half, no Frankfurt attacker could keep the ball against Bayern’s central defense.
During half-time, Frankfurt manager Adi Hütter substituted Haller for De Guzmán and switched to a 3-1-4-2 system. With Gaćinović and Rebić both playing as advanced midfielders behind the striking duo comprising of Haller and Jović, Hütter aimed at creating more penetrating power up front. In addition to that, the 3-1-4-2 system simply mirrored Bayern’s midfield formation and allowed for quick allocations of direct opponents.
It did not take long for Frankfurt to score the equaliser. Although the goal was scored from a corner-kick, Frankfurt won the corner after progressing up into Bayern’s half with all of their players. Something which they were rarely capable of in the first half.
Bayern’s endless attacking opportunities
Despite Frankfurt’s increased attacking power with a changed setup, Hütter’s side still struggled to defend Bayern’s attacks. Especially when single pivot Gelson Fernandes had to support the back line, Frankfurt missed presence in defensive midfield due to a lack of defensive contribution of their advanced midfielders. As a consequence, playmaker Müller could take a shot from outside of the penalty area. Despite a save of goalkeeper Trapp, left-back David Alaba converted the rebound and scored Bayern’s second goal of the day.
Furthermore, Frankfurt’s back line could not cope with the pace of winger Coman and his dribbling qualities. The French attacker used many counterattacks to carry the ball up the field and allow his teammates to get into higher positions. In one of these attacks, midfielder Renato Sanches who was being substituted for Goretzka used an overlapping run to receive the ball. After a quick flick, the Portuguese scored a goal and created the preliminary decision.
As a consequence, the intensity of the match decreased. And while Frankfurt tried to avoid a debacle, Bayern’s wingers Arjen Robben and Franck Ribéry celebrated their last match for the German champion with one goal each.
All in all, Frankfurt showed severe struggles to defend the pacy wingers of Bayern with a back three. In this game, the defensive risks of Frankfurt’s proactive defending failed to be compensated for by offensive chances. As a result, Frankfurt allowed too many scoring opportunities with only little chance creation of their own attacking department.
In the first season under Hütter, Frankfurt established a high pressing style which only failed against very few opponents. Bayern Munich was one of them. But due to Hoffenheim’s defeat against Mainz, Frankfurt still reached the Europa League qualification despite this defeat. Therefore, Frankfurt keep their chance on another magical Europa League season alive.
Bayern on the other hand started the game furiously and kept the tempo high for most of the time. Thanks to an abundance of fast and dangerous attacks, Bayern could beat Frankfurt with a notable high result.
To conclude, Bayern are crowned as the champions after a chequered season. But in the end, manager Niko Kovač could lend his side the much needed defensive stability which they often missed in the beginning of the campaign. After a lot of rotations in the starting lineups, the Croatian manager had found the best lineup just in time. On the back of another Bundesliga title, Bayern can now continue their generational upheaval within their squad.
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