Hansi Flick could barely have dreamt of a better way to mark his first game coaching Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga, as his team dismantled title rivals Borussia Dortmund 4-0 in the first Klassiker of the season, but how did he get the win?
bundesliga.com takes a closer look…
In a match where Robert Lewandowski scored his 15th and 16th league goals of the season and kept up his sensational streak of scoring in each of Bayern's first 11 Bundesliga games, the Bavarians certainly looked rejuvenated.
Restricting Dortmund to a paltry Expected Goals (xG) reading of 0.6 whilst registering an impressive 3.6 themselves, there was plenty for Flick to be satisfied with. Winning the tactical battle while playing some brilliant football on both sides of the ball, Flick, understandably, cut a delighted figure after the match. "I'm very happy because we did exactly what we had to do. We played the football that fans here are used to and want to see," he said.
Watch: Highlights of Bayern's 4-0 win over Dortmund
Deploying his team in what was ostensibly a 4-3-3 that also took on variants of a 4-1-4-1 or a 4-2-3-1 depending on the positioning of Thomas Müller and Leon Goretzka, Bayern constantly found ways to unlock their opposition.
To start with, the complementary movement of Bayern's frontline was a joy to behold, as they constantly asked questions of Dortmund's backline and opened up spaces. Executing their runs in behind to perfection, the Bayern attackers targeted the gaps in Dortmund's rearguard superbly. The way they exploited the blindside of markers also warranted mention, for this gave them a dynamic advantage over their awkwardly oriented adversaries.
Muller's superb blindside run into the box
Key to Bayern's success in bursting in behind was how they'd generate space for each other by strategically drawing or pinning one or more markers, so openings arose. The best examples of this arrived when Bayern hit switches of play to find a free winger on the far side, as the infield run of a fellow attacker would draw the opposition fullback inside to produce the space.
Gnabry drawing his man to create space for Lewandowski's run
Lewandowski pinning his man to free up Gnabry to receive the switch
Muller pinning his man to free up space for Gnabry's run
This principle of occupying the attention of one or more defenders also ensured Goretzka could surge forward from midfield to pose an additional threat.
Bayern's second goal was testament to their work here, with Lewandowski, Kingsley Coman and Serge Gnabry pinning four BVB defenders to unleash Muller down the left to instigate the move that culminated in Gnabry scoring.
Bayern's frontline drawing the BVB backline which ensures Muller can surge in behind untracked
The fact the Reds' front four of Lewandowski, Coman, Gnabry and Muller regularly rotated positions further compounded BVB's issues. In doing so, they didn't allow the away side to settle into a rhythm, with Bayern persistently altering their reference points. This sewed doubt as to who should mark whom, with Bayern poised to take advantage of any indecision.
Crisp rotation frees up Lewandowski
Another contributing factor to Bayern's effectiveness was how they almost always had at least four and sometimes five players attacking the box to give their teammates options with their deliveries into the box. Unbalancing their opponents and causing marking dilemmas due to their presence and coordinated movement, Bayern's first, third and fourth goals highlighted the success of this tactic.
Lewandowski's nous and Bayern's numbers in the box key to their opener
Bayern attacking the box with four players crucial to Bayern's third
Bayern attacking the box with five players prior to their fourth goal
There were also many positive signs in Bayern's build up play, with the Bavarians doing a neat job of beating the Dortmund press to progress through the thirds. With Joshua Kimmich typically dropping deep to help form a 3v2 against Dortmund's front two with central defenders David Alaba and Javi Martinez, this foundation served them well.
Bayern using their 3v2 advantage to access Kimmich cleanly to progress the attack
Using their numerical superiority wisely to feed Kimmich or work the ball to allow the central defenders to dribble upfield in the half spaces, Bayern consistently overcame BVB's first line of pressure.
Bayern using their 3v2 to allow Alaba to dribble upfield
The lead up to their second goal depicted their quality here, as Kimmich served as the free man, which granted him the time to pinpoint Müller with a sensational through ball, who subsequently set up Gnabry's simple finish.
Kimmich helping form a 4v3 which served as the catalyst for Bayern's second
A key follow-on effect was Jadon Sancho getting caught between two minds whether to mark a central defender or his nearby fullback, which meant that Bayern could regularly access Coman with a simple vertical pass to put him 1v1 with his marker.
Bayern directly accessing Coman with a clean pass from Alaba
Müller's impact proved crucial too, for his intelligent movement helped connect play, produce overloads in midfield, open passing lanes and support wide attacks.
Muller receiving smartly receiving between the lines
Muller dropping deep to break the press
Dominating the contest and dictating play, the Reds enjoyed 62 percent of possession, in a match where they worked together as a collective to frequently break down their opponents.
As well as winning many duels all over the pitch, Bayern's pressing was an integral element of their defensive efforts. When Dortmund would look to build out from the back, Bayern's pressing worked a treat, as Lewandowski and the winger nearer the ball would monitor the two opposing central defenders.
Pressing smartly, said winger would look to block the passing lane to the fullback behind them, ushering BVB towards the well-covered centre. Lewandowski, if not pressing a central defender, would cut off Mats Hummels' pass to fellow centre-back Manuel Akanji and vice versa, ready to pounce on a pass back to the keeper, Roman Bürki.
Furthermore, Goretzka and Muller would then mark Dortmund's midfield pivots Julian Weigl and Axel Witsel respectively. The winger further away from the ball would then be positioned to press the corresponding central defender or fullback, plus also supporting the tracking of a central midfielder, if need be.
Quality pressing to get at Dortmund
To round things out, Kimmich would usually track the dropping movements of Julian Brandt, Mario Gotze would be looked after by one of Bayern's central defenders and the fullbacks - Alphonso Davies and Benjamin Pavard - would monitor the opposition wingers in Sancho and Thorgan Hazard or push onto the BVB fullbacks if needed.
Excellent pressing structure by Bayern
Bayern pressing structure to make life difficult for BVB to pass out
By timing and directing their harrying intelligently, cutting off options to their adversaries, Flick's side did a fantastic job of forcing BVB into sloppy turnovers, low percentage long balls or into predictable passes that they could then intercept swiftly.
Bayern pressing nicely, which is highlighted by them using their cover shadows to block pass lanes
Full of aggression and intensity, the fact Bayern only allowed Lucien Favre's team 8.8 passes per defensive action and restricted BVB to just two shots (zero on target), demonstrated the effectiveness of their pressing. It also served as a handy chance creator that allowed the hosts to recover possession high up to attack against an unset backline.
Further reason for positivity was their ability to counterpress doggedly, win second balls, surge forward on some superb counter attacks, and also the way their attackers' movement often opened up passing lanes.
Strong 4v3 second ball structure
"We're satisfied with the way we presented ourselves today," said club CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge. "Everyone had a ton of fun at the game and deservedly gave the team a standing ovation on their way to the locker room."
Having vanquished Dortmund so comprehensively in the first Klassiker can Flick dop it once again on Tuesday?
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