Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

Created via our very own Tactics Creator App. Click here to make your own!

Tactical Analysis

Leverkusen 1-1 Bayern Munich: Tactical Analysis

The German Bundesliga is fast gaining recognition as one of the best leagues in the world, and this game was a perfect advert for the league. With Borussia Dortmund slipping up at Gladbach earlier in the day, both these teams had the chance to scale the summit. The champions only needed a point to go top, but Leverkusen needed all three. The electric atmosphere at the Bay Arena only added to the spice, with both sets of fans contributing with a lot of singing from the stands.

Leverkusen started in their customary 4-3-3 formation, set up to hit Bayern on the counter. In attack, Heung Min Son was left on the bench, and former Bayern starlet Emre Can made his first start for his new club. Toprak and Spahic were the centre backs, with Donati and Boenisch on their right and left respectively. Bender, Rolfes and Reinartz were the midfielders, and the strikers, aside from Can, were Sam and Kieβling.

Bayern Munich also began in their usual shapes, the 3-3-1-3 in attack, and the 4-2-3-1 in defence. Again, Muller started as the striker, with Ribery and Shaqiri on the flanks. Kroos, Schweinsteiger and Lahm were in midfield. At the back, Rafinha, Dante, Boateng and Alaba started, with Neuer in goal.

Created via our very own Tactics Creator App. Click here to make your own!

Created via our very own Tactics Creator App. Click here to make your own!

Leverkusen Attacking Through Full Backs

Leverkusen average about 46% possession in their games. They’re a side that strikes mainly on the counter. Bayern are also a team that gets their full backs forward, and these players have to transition quickly, because the likes of Ribery also aren’t expected to come very deep when tracking back. Therefore, it made perfect sense for Hyppia to make his full backs the main source of attack. The two full backs sprinted forward at every opportunity, and also played a good role in creating chances. The rationale was to attack using wide positions. The goal came from the confusion created after a cross.

Bayern Pressing

In midweek, against Manchester City, we saw some ferocious pressing from Bayern Munich. They pressured City into a lot of errors, and basically kept the ball. However, there was a slight change of tactics against Leverkusen. The home side is one that thrives on the counter, and pressing them early would play into their hands. Therefore Bayern allowed to play their first ball out, but had men back to win it back. As a result, Leverkusen hardly managed to get the ball forward very often, or launch effective counter attacks.

Bayern Munich tackles in the match. via

Bayern Munich tackles in the match.

As you can see in the graph above, most of the Bayern tackles were executed in a certain region of the field. This was when someone like Kieβling or Sam was tackled, as they tried to move with the ball and get forward. The fact that Leverkusen only managed 5 attempts says all you need to know about the Bayern defensive tactic.

Muller’s Role

Thomas Muller has made his name playing just behind the main striker for the last few years, but Guardiola has tried him out in Mandzukic’s position in the last few games. Muller is a player who manipulates space very well, and makes very intelligent runs on and off the ball, to create space for his team-mates. Personally too, he does well to find himself in space. This is why Pep has tried him out in the forward zone. Today, his role was to make the runs and create the space that suited the Bayern attacking mode, namely cut-backs. He made a number of selfless dashes towards the near post to attract the defenders, and create space for the onrushing players behind him. The weakness is, that unlike someone like Mandzukic, Muller isn’t as good in the air. With Mandzukic in the side, Bayern have a lot of variety, and an air of unpredictability.

Bayern Wide Play

Leverkusen are a team that line up their three midfielders very narrow, and even the three forwards are quite narrow. This leaves a lot of room on the wings, as it’s almost always only the one defender who is protecting it. Guardiola decided to use this as the avenue for Bayern’s attacking play today. A large number of passes were played out wide from the centre of the field by the likes of Kroos and Schweinsteiger, who then moved forward into the box to provide bodies. The full backs moved forward into the central midfield to keep the ball in the opponents half in case they manage to clear the cross. The wide players, like Shaqiri and Ribery attempted to dribble into the area, get to the by-line and cut back. Muller made a dart towards the near post, with the opposite winger standing near the far post. The central midfielder on the crossing side generally stood in the wide area behind the crosser to provide a passing option other than the full back, turned central midfielder, while the other central midfielder ran into the space behind Muller to meet the cut back. Kroos scored his goal in this way. This is generally a very efficient strategy, as Rafael Benitez pointed out recently, and worked quite well for Bayern.

Football Blogging Awards: Click here and vote for us in the “Best New Football Blog” Category

They should have scored a lot more goals, but were let down by their finishing. All in all, they attempted a massive 40 crosses during the game. Bayern were able to create an effective overload in the wide areas, and this worked very well for them, as they kept Leverkusen inside their own area for large periods.

Bayern Crosses via

Bayern Crosses

Leverkusen were stuck in their own defensive third for large periods via

Leverkusen were stuck in their own defensive third for large periods

Leverkusen’s Defensive Reaction

As a result of being overpowered in the wide areas, Hyppia’s team suffered in the first half. In response, the manager instructed his midfielders to get back and help out the full backs. This would allow the centre backs to stick to their positions, and hopefully stem the flow of crosses into the box. However, this did take away a lot of the attacking potency Lverkusen had, and they struggled to put moves together in the second half, because the midfielders were too deep. It led to the team staying a lot deeper, and hanging in their own half. This is illustrated in the heat map provided above.


If one is to look at the numbers, Bayern Munich had 78% possession and 27 shots. They should have won this game easily. their tactics too, kept Leverkusen caged in. The Bavarians however, can only blame themselves. A conversion rate of 3% highlights the weakness today. Leverkusen were well organised, but frankly, they were blown away by the Bayern passing machine. The home side should consider themselves very lucky to be getting out of this game with a point.

Over to you! That was our analysis of the game, was there anything particular that you (tactically) noticed? Let us know by dropping a comment below.

Make sure you follow us on Twitter @OOTB_football and like us on Facebook. We’re on Google+ and Tumblr as well for those interested.


Vishal Patel


Talent Radar

Tom Robinson profiles 10 of the best young players to watch in the Argentinian Primera  for the 2020 season. After over 7 months without...

Talent Radar

A look at the best U-22 Young Players this week, looking at the La Liga, Bundesliga, Premier League, Serie A, Ligue 1, Eredivisie &...


Richard Pike writes about the increasing divide between Europe’s Big 5 Leagues and the rest. 13th of December 1954, a date where an event...

Talent Radar

Mateus Carvalho profiles 20 of the best young players to watch in the Liga NOS  for the 2020-21 season, one from each club! In...

Scout Report

Tom Robinson writes a detailed scout report about the Argentina and Banfield attacking midfielder, Agustin Urzi. With no confirmed date for football to return...


Mateus Carvalho casts a discerning eye over Leeds United to assess their prospects in the Premier League. I still remember being a little kid,...

Tactical Analysis

Vishal Patel takes a close look at Chelsea’s defence to understand why the club conceded so many goals in the 2019-20 Premier League. Frank...

Talent Radar

Richard Pike profiles 20 of the best Under-20 players to watch in the Serie A for the 2020-21 season, one from each club! As...

Young Players

Richard Pike profiles 20 of the best Under-20 players to watch in the La Liga for the 2020-21 season, one from each club! As...

Young Players

Rahul Warrier profiles 20 Young Players to watch in the 2020/21 Premier League season, one from each club! The return of Premier League football...

You May Also Like

Tactical Analysis

Charles Onwuakpa writes a detailed Tactical Analysis of the UEFA Champions League Final that ended PSG 0-1 Bayern Munich. Despite months of uncertainty throughout...

Young Players

As the end of the season beckons across Europe, in some form, it is time for us at Outside of the Boot to recognize...


Is Germany Ready to cope with the pressure of the world’s collective eyes on them? What does this mean for the fans of the...

How to Play Like

Charles Onwuakpa analyses Bayern Munich’s Thiago Alcantara, and how one can pick-up the traits exhibited by him. “Thiago or nothing.” – Pep Guardiola This...

Previous Next
Test Caption
Test Description goes like this