Tactical Analysis: Juventus 2 – 2 Bayern Munich

Allegri’s Approach for Juventus

Massimiliano Allegri played his 4-4-2 basic formation. As usual, when his side settled into low-block defense, the shape would be transpositioned into a 4-4-1-1 / 4-4-2-0. Early in the first-half, in their initial defensive shape, Juventus tended to let their forward-duo press without always establishing strong support-shape behind them. This pressing, in turn, allowed Bayern to bypass and progress forward. Juve’s zonal marking strongly focused on the central area, which provided space on the flank for Bayern, but Juventus was happy to push Bayern wide and trap them on the flanks.

Against Costa, in the wide area, for example, when possible Juventus was more than happy to press the lightning-speed winger with 2-3 players, mindful of the potential threat of Costa’s skill in 1v1 situations.

Sami Khedira and Cladio Marchisio were Juve’s pivot-duo and were flanked by Paul Pogba on the left and Juan Cuadrado on the right. There was a different refrence movement between Paul Pogba and Cuadrado, both defensively and offensively. Pogba’s orientation was more to the central area than Cuadrado’s.

In build-up play, Pogba dropped-deep situationally, either to back to the side or into half-space in order to help with progress forward. His individual skill and physical strength were used to beat Bayern’s pressure. Cuadrado, during the attacking-phase, played as a classic-winger.

In the defensive-phase, Pogba moved to the central area, if necessary, or even to the far half-space helping to keep Juve’s shape extremely compact. A different job was given to Cuadrado. The right winger applied more intense man-marking to Bayern’s wide-man as he had to keep the far flank to be under-control to avoid Bayern to make side-to-side switch, for example.

From the forward-line, Paulo Dybala, as always, played in a deep-lying position. He occupied a deeper space than Mandzukic. The Argentine moved wide or deeper to the #10 or #8 to create access and dropped very deep to squeeze the space, which positively impacted Juve’s compactness.

Pep’s Positional Play

On the other side of the pitch, Pep once again set his side up for fluid and tidy positional play. Some will say Bayern played with 4-2-3-1 / 4-3-3, while others will say it was a 3-4-3 asymmetric one.

This dynamic positional structure can be observed on Bayern first-phase of attack. It was Arturo Vidal who dropped to the back line, in-between Joshua Kimmich and David Alaba position, continuously creating strong circulation to beat Juventus’ first line press that established by Dybala and Mandzukic.

Philip Lahm and Juan Bernat were tasked with slightly different roles and duties. Lahm acted deeper and occupied the #6 space, more than Bernat, and was often seen moving around the right half-space. On the other hand, Bernat was more adventurous as the left wing back sometimes caught moving wide combining with Douglas Costa on the left flank. He also took the 6 job as the left half-space was his working-space.

Further up the pitch, Arjen Robben and Thomas Müller occasionally swapped positions. Thomas Müller would stay wide letting Robben to cut inside and made quick combination with, either Thiago Alcantara or Robert Lewandowski.

In their circulation and final-third penetration, Thiago moved far from the left to the right side as it would support them to create local overload which also being the initial-preparation for any needed gegenpressing.

juventus-bayern-line-up
Juventus’ static 4-4-2 shape vs. Bayern’s dynamic shape.

Bayern’s Strong Ball-circulation

The combination of the inverted full back, Thiago, and continuously movement from the front players in the central area and half-space were the reason why Bayern played won much valuable possession and frequently progressed forward. In short, this combination ensured there would always be a triangle or diamond-shape somewhere on the pitch.

For example, when the back line built-up the play in the central line (Bayern displayed an extremely high-block), Thiago had just the right timing to drop slightly deep to the center of zone 11 to receive a pass and made a one-touch pass to the half-space to Lewandowski. In this moment, Lahm kept his positioning onto the right half-space of 6, right in front of the back line, which dragged the focus from Juventus’ middle line to the center. This opened some space for Lewandowski on the upper half-space. Bayern’s first goal was started from such scheme.

In their final-third penetration, Pep assigned his players (4-5 players) to get into Juventus’structural block trying to exploit the vertical space. Combined with the overload on the ball-side half-space and flank, Bayern managed to create space in the center of zone 5.

Another positive aspect that supported Bayern’s progression was the off-the-ball vertical movement by either Lahm or Bernat. For example, when Bayern circulated the ball on the flank, sometimes the inverted full-back got further forward toward the penalty area on the half-space. this opened the chance for the diagonal passing to the central space, as it reduced the cover of the center.

lahm-vertical-movement
Bayern players penetrating Juventus’ structural block.

Overloading the half-space and flank (by Lahm, Lewandowski and Robben) opened up the central area. There was also a vertical movement by Lahm from the #8 to the final-third that created a space for Kimmich to pass the ball diagonally to Müller.

Bayern Pressing-shape against Juventus’ Build-up

High-block press. The marking assignment was a standard one. The winger picked-up the opposition’s full back and the full back to go against opposition’s winger. Thiago and Vidal to take Juventus’ central midfielders. Thomas Muller and Lewandowski acted as the first-line of press. when Muller pressed the ball-carrying central defender, Lewandowski would act as the wedge the far side central defender and vice versa.

Juventus were struggle to beat such discipline shape. They occasionally managed to pass through the press by utilizing Pogba’s physical strength. Or sometimes they played a long passing football directly to Mandzukic, relying on his aerial ability to play some flick-ons.

Juventus’ 2nd Half Improvements

Right after the kick-off and Bayern tried to build-up, Juventus seemed to play more aggressive press. Mandzukic and Dybala to go against the central defenders, the wide-men went for both Bayern full-backs, and Khedira-Hernanes stayed centrally keeping their eyes on Bayern’s central players. This high-block press eventually played its part in the equalizer.

With Juventus kept their high-block play, Bayern’s manner in build-up was also gradually influenced and changed. They approached with more vertical play. Juventus, slowly but sure, gained the rhythm they needed and looked to be more comfortable on possession.

In their build-up, the positioning combination of Hernanes-Khedira and Dybala around 6, in many occasions, helped them to keep the passing-lane alive because they positioned themselves properly in their ball-oriented positioning. Which, in turn, eased Juve to bypass the pressure nad progressed. Dybala’s goal was the evident.

The goalwas started from a Juventus’ deep circulation. Hernanes dropped very deep to the back line whilst Khedira took the right flank and Dybala stayed at 6 on the right half-space. Khedirawide-positioning enabled Lichtsteiner to feed him. Khedira’s flick-on to Dybala was not-perfectly-intercepted by Vidal. The ball was recovered by Cuadrado. A very quick attack ended-up with Dybala slotted the ball. Juventus 1-2 Bayern.

Many people blame Joshua Kimmich for both goals which is absolutely unfair, as it did underestimate Juventus tactical improvement in the second-half. Kimmich, for sure, took part on those goals but blaming him as the only reason for those goals is just compeletely wrong.

Conclusion

An enjoyable tactical-game. In the first half and more than 20 minutes in the second-half, Bayern were superior to Juventus. Their build-up, structural play and pressing were impressive. In the second-half, Juventus improved. Allegri displayed a constant high-block press and his players managed to play some quick attack which brought the rhythm back.

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Ryan Tank is crazy about football tactics and crazy insightful when writing about them. Check out Ryan's site, ryantank100.wordpress.com. You can also follow him on Twitter at @ryantank100.

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