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Yesterday, on Saturday 18th of February, Bayern only tied against Freiburg in an awful and disgraceful way. The 0-0 meant that Bayern is two more points behind the leader, Borussia Dortmund. 4 points are actually quite a lot but there are still 12 match days left so nobody should give up hope on the title.
But that’s not what I want to talk about in this article. One of the reasons why Bayern dropped those two precious points is that they weren’t able to find a solution against Freiburg’s defense who kept it really tight. They completely killed Kroos’ abilities, Gomez didn’t get much passes and Robbery was pretty helpless as well. Kroos and Luiz Gustavo didn’t even try anymore to break through the two back fours of the bottom club so that the full-backs had to bring the ball to the forward line what actually didn’t work at all. Freiburg was attacking the ball carrier with two or three men.
The main problem is the defensive midfield. Of course you all know what I am talking about: Bastian Schweinsteiger, the heart of the team is missing and no-one has been able to replace him yet. Toni Kroos and David Alaba have tried it many times but no-one of them could convince the staff and the fans. They aren’t by far as creative as Schweinsteiger and don’t harmonize as well with Luiz Gustavo or Anatolyi Tymoshchuk as the vice-captain does. Unlike Schweinsteiger, Alaba or Kroos aren’t marked closely because the opponents do know that they are too weak. Both of them weren’t able to profit of that either. That’s not only their fault though. Jupp Heynckes must have noticed that earlier and found another solution. I have actually found a solution which I’ll present you later in this article…
The second big problem Bayern has to face during every match without Schweinsteiger is their lack of creativity to break through the opponents’ defense. Every team Bayern has been playing so far in 2012 could parry Bayern’s attack off in a simple 4-4-2 formation. Two back fours are effective enough to trouble Bayern’s build-up play that depends on combinations and many passes. Those couldn’t happen because every team’s back fours didn’t give the Bavarians lots of space between each other so that the German record champion was helpless. I have found a solution for this problem as well…
Obviously, kind of a tactical revolution is needed. The 4-2-3-1 that Bayern has been using since Louis van Gaal took them over has become too common, too predictable. Great manager aren’t only characterized by improving tactics but also by founding “new” tactics. Pep Guardiola is doing that in Barcelona at the moment, his team is slowly but surely changing from a 4-3-3 into a 3-4-3. Of course he wasn’t the first one to do that, some Italian teams such as Udinese Calcio are playing with those tactics since some seasons but Barca’s manager is perfecting that system. Jupp Heynckes could (should?) help Joachim Löw, the manager of the German national team, to start a new trend: a 4-2-4.
From a 4-2-3-1 to a 4-2-4:
The basic formation is quite simple but already pretty difficult to a 4-2-3-1. On the drawing I’ve added you can see a 4-2-4 that Bayern would be supposed to play and a 4-2-3-1 such as Dortmund, Bayern’s major opponent is using it. Since Bayern is playing in a 4-2-4, there is no place for Mario Gomez anymore. He is their most prolific scorer but even though he has actually improved his playing abilities, he isn’t good enough to be part of a forward line composed of 4 players who are constantly rotating and who must be able to play on any position. In the drawing I’ve placed Thomas Müller as a “false nine” to show you that he’d be the one to replace Mario Gomez and who’s supposed to score most of the goals. Of course Müller, Kroos, Ribery and Robben would be rotating and changing positions all the time what’d confuse the opponent’s defense a lot and create lots of space.
In my opinion Anatolyi Tymoshchuk is the most accurate replacement for Bastian Schweinsteiger because he is a very smart player and offensively as strong as defensively. He would be the organizer of Bayern’s play and perfectly replace Bastian Schweinsteiger who would have no problem to play that role again after his comeback.
David Alaba would be acting more defensively but not as a total defensively-minded midfielder. He would be backing Tymoshchuk in the build-up play and profit of the spaces created by the all-time-rotating forward line by pushing forward fast and become another disturbing factor for an already completely disorganized opponent. Furthermore the full-backs would push forward as well to support the wingers.
Actually David Alaba could be replaced by Emre Can, a 17-years-young rather defensive midfielder who is very dynamic and perhaps more able to play on the position I have placed Alaba on… Emre Can, a Turkish-German, is said to be the best player that has ever gone through Bayern’s youth academy and I’m sure that he’s ready to play in the Bundesliga since he’s already training regularly with the seniors. I can’t wait for his debut!
The offensive 4-2-4; a 2-1-3-4:
After Bayern is in possession of the ball and has conquered the opponent’s half, the formation as changed into a 2-1-3-4. The two central backs are standing pretty high, on the halfway line to act as last resort in case of a counter attack that is quite unlikely because of the rotation and fast passes of the forward line(s). David Alaba (or Emre Can) would step back, after having disturbed the opponent’s defense and creating enough space to keep the ball, and mainly back Tymoshchuk up. But he could still push forward sometimes in case there is lots of space or the adverse defense needs some trouble again.
The first “forward line” would be composed of three players: the two full-backs and Anatolyi Tymoshchuk (or Bastian Schweinsteiger) who are mainly responsible to organize the game and support the actual forward line. Especially “Tymo” would be acting horizontally and be the dynamo of the close-nit Bayern game. The full-backs would help him and sometimes overrun the wingers to confuse the defense and support them as they are already doing it in the current 4-2-3-1. I do think Philipp Lahm would perfectly fit into that system, I still have some doubts about Rafinha though…
I can’t tell much new about the role I would like to see the actual forward line in: they are rotating constantly and disturbing the defense. To be totally successful in that, they should cross each other over. That would always work for sure. I haven’t sketched in horizontal arrows because it’s naturally and there wasn’t much space left. Robben and Ribéry could also dribble down to the baseline and cross. Thomas Müller and Bastian Schweinsteiger could convert those crosses.
The defensive 4-2-4; kind of a 4-5-1:
The defense 4-2-4 manifests another advantage of that system, especially for Bayern. Since Gomez, a pure striker who can’t and doesn’t like defending that much, isn’t playing Thomas Müller, used to defend, can defend instead of Robben or Ribery who can “rest” on the halfway line and wait for opportunities for counter-attacks. The remaining players of the forward line and the two-part midfield are defending tightly and allowing as little space as possible by keeping it tight with the back four. The back four is defending on a line what is the best way to avoid goals against in my opinion.
Alaba (or Emre Can) isn’t defending as deeply as Tymoshchuk (or Schweinsteiger) because they are faster in case of a counter-attack what means that they can create more danger over a short period.
As everything that has advantages – this 4-2-4 system has many! -, there are also some disadvantages. One of them is the intense way of playing. Especially the forward line has to run a lot and it can’t be practiced every 3 days during the “English weeks”. But that isn’t even necessary. In the Champions League most teams aren’t defending such as the ones in the Bundesliga so Heynckes could play in a 4-2-3-1. He could also do easily that in the Bundesliga to rest his team after they are leading. Another disadvantage is the defense… In possession, tops 3 players can actively defend counter attacks which might not be enough… But I do think that this system might work pretty well after having practiced it a bit because it’s a lot about joy of playing what should please every player.
Thank you a lot for reading this article!🙂 I hope you enjoyed and will rate it!😉