October 24, 2017

Bundesliga Match of the Week 7: Hertha Berlin vs FC Bayern München

Match: Hertha Berlin (Duda, Kalou) 2-2 FC Bayern München (Hummels, Lewandowski)

Description:

The sacking of Carlo Ancelotti signalled a change in affairs at the Bavarian club. Losing 3-0 to PSG in the Champions League was the final straw in what was becoming difficult tenure for the Italian. A lot of frustration led to this moment. Bayern were entering a period of uncertainty.

With Willy Sagnol temporarily in charge, the Bavarians were hoping they could put the previous frustrations behind them. Unfortunately for Bayern that wasn’t the case. Frustration continued. With Arjen Robben and Franck Ribéry starting for the Bavarians, the style of play was surely going to be one of an upbeat tempo that would challenge the opponents. The opening stages of the game provided just that. Primarily favouring the wings, Bayern were attacking with relative ease. Taking the attack to the opponents, Hertha Berlin were left struggling to keep up with the pressure. Winning the possession and passing battle, the away side were left with the task of creating chances and scoring.

Opportunities came in the early stages with an attempt from Ribéry being saved by Rune Jarstein. Bayern’s first game without Ancelotti looked to be a positive one. The visitors were rewarded for the positive start to the game when Mats Hummels connected with a Jerome Boateng cross to put the Bavarians in the lead. So far so good for the away side. As the game progressed so did Bayern’s performance. Limiting Berlin’s time on the ball, Bayern were able to attack down the favoured flanks. Finding space and creating opportunities, the visitors were on the front foot. Defensively the Bavarians were solid, winning battles in key areas. The midfield looked strong and were providing the opportunities needed going forward.

With battles being won by the visitors, Berlin struggled to establish a foothold in the game. They needed to make of the most of what came to them. The home side’s best chance of the first half came in the 33rd minute when Vladimir Darida’s shot inside the box was saved by Sven Ulreich. Apart from that, the majority of Berlin’s shots were off target. Credit has to be given to Bayern in this case. When the hosts had the ball, the Bavarians applied pressure and worked to get the ball, limiting Berlin’s avenue’s going forward. Despite the solid first half, creating opportunities and scoring, Bayern were lacking the final strike needed to increase the lead. The majority of the away side’s shots came from inside the box, with many being off target apart from two shots that had to be saved by Jarstein. Former Bayern right back Sagnol had his team in good form, and there was hope the second half would continue the style of play which produced a goal in the first half.

Things were looking good for the Bavarians.  Apart from a more deadly attack, the visitors had something positive to bounce off in the second half. It worked. Four minutes into the second half and Bayern were further ahead. Beating Niklas Stark to the header, Robert Lewandowski was left in space to work his magic. The Pole does what he does best, score. Bayern were in a strong position, 2-0 up and looking to get more. But that wasn’t the case for the visitors. After their second goal it seemed like everything changed. Comfortable with their lead, the away side lost focus, allowing for Berlin to get back into the game. This would prove to be a crucial mistake. The Bavarians were punished.

Responding to their situation, the home side took advantage of Bayern’s lax style of play. Working his way through the Bayern defence, Genki Haraguchi drove the ball into the box, crossing the ball to find Ondrej Duda who put the ball in the back of the net. Poor defending from Bayern made it easy for the home side to get one back. Full of confidence, the home side looked a different team. Upping their intensity and pressure, Berlin were on course for a second goal. They got that in the 56th minute when Marvin Plattenhardt delivered a dangerous into Bayern’s box from a free kick. Finding Karim Rekik, the Bayern defence were caught out, allowing for Salomon Kalou who pounced the ball that fell behind the opponents defence. Kalou beat Ulreich to make it 2-2. Bayern were quickly falling apart.

From then onwards the situation didn’t really improve for Bayern. Berlin pressured Bayern when they had the ball, allowing limited opportunities going forward. Despite the Bavarians having the upper hand in terms of possession, they couldn’t do much with it. The home side were able suppress Bayern’s style of play that had been positive in the first half. When it came to defence, Berlin sat back and withstood Bayern’s attack. The visitors struggled to create threatening opportunities. Unfortunately Ribéry suffered an injury which resulted in him having to be taken off. As time progressed so did Bayern’s frustration. But much of this was of their own doing for allowing Berlin back into the game. The home will be happy walking away with a comeback draw, while the Bavarians will be walking away with more frustration.

Statistics:

Hertha BSC:

  • 32.7% Possession
  • 2 Goals
  • 10 Shots (5 On Target)
  • 45.4% Duels Won
  • 322 Passes (251 Short Passes, 61 Long Balls, 10 Crosses, Average Pass Streak 3)
  • 69.1% Pass Accuracy
  • 472 Touches
  • 7 Chances Created
  • 10 Crosses
  • 6 Take Ons
  • 9 Interceptions
  • 33 Clearances
  • 17 Blocks

FC Bayern München:

  • 67.3% Possession
  • 2 Goals
  • 16 Shots (5 On Target)
  • 54.6% Duels Won
  • 663 Passes (559 Short Passes, 78 Long Balls, 26 Crosses, Average Pass Streak 6)
  • 85.7% Pass Accuracy
  • 799 Touches
  • 13 Chances Created
  • 26 Crosses
  • 15 Take Ons
  • 9 Interceptions
  • 6 Clearances
  • 9 Blocks

Winless in the last three competitive games

Worst start to the Bundesliga in seven years

First time in Bayern’s history they have thrown away a two goal lead in successive Bundesliga games

Salomon Kalou has scored 10 of his last 12 Bundesliga goals in home games

(Statistics provided by Bundesliga.com, DW, Squawka, Onefootball, WhoScored, Opta, etc.)

Analysis:

The frustration at Bayern München continues. Willy Sagnol’s men threw away a two goal advantage to come away with a draw against Hertha Berlin. The sacking of Carlo Ancelotti signalled new times at the Bavarian club. Coming off a disappointing display against PSG, the visitors were hoping to bounce back with a win. It looked like that was going to be the case in the first half. Lining up in 4-2-3-1 with Javi Martínez and Corentin Tolisso in midfield and an attack consisting of Arjen Robben, Thomas Müller, Frank Ribéry and Robert Lewandowski, it was almost reminiscent of previous times. The opening stages were positive for the visitors. Winning battles in passing, possession and the physical side of the game, Bayern were able to quickly establish their style of play on the game. The 4-2-3-1 formation allowed for the visitors to generate play through the spine of the team.

 

With Martínez as the more defensive midfielder, a position he has played previously, Bayern were able to control Berlin’s attack. This was proved to beneficial when dispossessing the opposing team and going on the attack. It didn’t take long for this to occur. Swarming and limiting the space of the opposing player, the defence and midfield of Bayern were able to work in unity in obtaining the ball. Upon getting the ball, in this case, Martínez in his defensive duties is able to put on the attack and drive up the field, opening up the attacking options.

 

The image above shows Martínez on the break with Ribéry to his left, Müller to his right and Lewandowski in front. With the Bavarians on the counterattack, the Berlin midfield and defence are out of position and caught off guard, allowing for Bayern to exploit their vulnerability and create a scoring opportunity. Martínez offloading a pass to Lewandowski allowed the Pole to find space down the left, with Ribéry and Müller continuing their run from midfield into the box. Unfortunately for Bayern, Müller was unable to establish a proper connection with the ball. Despite this not leading to a goal, it is an example of the versatility of the formation and tactics being used. The visitors were looking dangerous and it was only a matter of time before they were awarded for their efforts.

Receiving the ball from a clearance, Boateng is left in acres of space. The defender is given enough time to prepare and size up a cross into the box. With the Berlin players pushing up in the box, many of them are caught off guard by the imminent cross coming from Boateng. As a result, the Bayern players in the box, especially Hummels, are able to prepare for the incoming cross and create a separation of space. With the space being created, Hummels is able to leap up in the air and produce the perfect header.

 

The Bavarians were looking good. Winning battles in key areas and limiting Berlin’s attack, it felt like Bayern fans were in for a treat. The controlling nature of Bayern’s style of play in their clash with Hertha Berlin produce multiple opportunities, especially in the first half where they had 11 shots and created 9 chances. Six of those shots were off target, something that would punish them later in the game. Apart from a Vladimir Darida shot that had to be saved by Sven Ulreich, Bayern largely spent the first half unthreatened.

 

An example of the chances that the Bavarians had can be seen in the image above. Receiving a long ball from Boateng, Lewandowski heads the ball to Ribéry who passes back to the Pole who has a shot on goal, only for it to go just wide. Bayern were versatile going forward in the first half and it showed. 69.3% possession, 11 shots, 9 chances created, 87% pass accuracy and 7 take ons, the Bavarians were controlling the game. The hosts were limited to 30.7% possession, 5 shots (4 off target) and 4 chances created. Apart from not being more clinical in front of goal, the away side looked to be setting up the second half for a dominating performance.

The second half was the catalyst in Bayern’s downfall. Scoring in the early stages in the second half would propel most teams to victory, not Bayern München. The 49th minute saw the Bavarians score the second goal of the game after Lewandowski received a long ball from Tolisso. Winning the header in the air, the Pole controlled the ball into the box where he put it past Jarstein.

 

From then onwards it was bad news for the visitors. For whatever reason they started to relax and get too comfortable with their lead. Losing focus, Bayern were punished. Two minutes after the Lewandowski goal, Ondrej Duda scored for the home side. Caught out by Berlin’s attack down the right, Bayern were left chasing the home side. Receiving a pass from Mathew Leckie, Genki Haraguchi brings the ball across the Bayern box. After getting past Boateng’s poor attempt of a tackle, blocking Joshua Kimmich in the process, Haraguchi carries the ball into the box, leaving the Bavarians in his wake. Getting past an attempted tackle from Hummels, Haraguchi was left with the easy option of passing it in the direct of Kalou and Duda who were left in open space. Leaving players in open space inside the box is deadly, and Duda made sure to prove that.

 

Poor defending and sloppy play from Bayern was costly. Hertha Berlin made the most of it. Five minutes later and Berlin came back with their second goal. Another instance of a lapse of concentration and thinking allowed for the home side to draw level. Coming from a free kick, Marvin Plattenhardt whipped the ball into the box, hoping to find a teammate. Looking to clear the ball, Tolisso goes up for the header, leaving two Hertha Berlin players, Rekik and Kalou, open for the ball. Rekik is able to pass the ball forward further into the box where Kalou then puts in the back of the net. Another mistake proved costly for the Bavarians. From the performance in the first half to this in the second half, Willy Sagnol will be left frustrated with his team.

 

The rest of the second half saw Berlin look to suppress and essentially cut off the Bayern attack. Upping the pressure and closing down spaces, the home were cutting off avenues where the Bavarians could attack. As a result, Bayern were resorting to crossing and shooting outside the box. Five shots came in the second half, one being the goal and the rest being shots off target. Three of the off target shots were outside the box. Added to that, Bayern had a total of 11 crosses in the second half, with only two being successful. With the home side heavily defending, Bayern were left with no other option but to shoot from distance and crossing, hoping to find a head in the box.

 

Bayern’s collapse in the second half was dramatic. Two mistakes were costly in throwing away a two goal lead. The frustration that has been surrounding Bayern München is recent times is growing, and that was epitomised in the sacking of Ancelotti. But Bayern’s clash with Berlin wasn’t about Ancelotti, it was costly mistakes and getting too comfortable in the lead. In losing focus on the task in hand, Bayern allowed for the home side to get back in the game and end it with a draw. If they had kept up their performance in the first half this would be a totally different story. Bayer München will be going into the international break searching for a new manager, identity, and a plan where they can bounce back from the recent disappointments.

Honourable Mention:

SC Freiburg 3-2 TSG 1899 Hoffenheim

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From Yorkshire, Callum fell for the beautiful game at an early age. The Bundesliga first caught his attention in 2014. Since then, his admiration and interest for the Bundesliga has developed greatly. Falling in love with what the Bundesliga and Germany has to offer was easy. So Callum, decided to put his passion into words. You can find him on Twitter @CallumSeniuk

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