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Tactical Analysis

Tactical Analysis: Bayer Leverkusen 0-0 Bayern Munich | Resilient Leverkusen frustrate Bayern

Hrishi Anand provides a detailed tactical analysis about the Bundesliga game that finished Bayer Leverkusen 0-0 Bayern Munich.

Bayer Leverkusen and Bayern Munich played out to a 0-0 draw at the Bayer Arena. The hosts have had a dismal season following a poor start and Roger Schmidt’s sacking. New manager Tayfun Korkut has had a difficult start to life as well. Bayern on the other hand look set for another Bundesliga title. However, the Bavarians were depleted after a home loss to Real Madrid in the Champions League and faced injury problems.


Leverkusen- 1.Leno 13.Hilbert 16.Jedvaj 21.Toprak 18.Wendell 29.Havertz 15.Baumgartlinger 20.Aránguiz 19.Brandt 44.Kampl 31.Volland

Bayern- 1.Neuer 13.Rafinha 8.Javi Martínez 27.Alaba 18.Bernat 32.Kimmich 23.Vidal 29.Coman 6.Thiago Alcántara 11.Douglas Costa 25.Müller

The home side were without Javier Hernandez leading the attack. On the wings were exciting youngsters Kai Havertz and Julian Brandt. Kevin Kampl played behind Kevin Volland. Charles Aranguiz and Julian Baumgartlinger played in central midfield while Oscar Wendell and Tony Hilbert were the wing-backs on either side of Omer Toprak and Tin Jedvaj. Bernd Leno was in goal for Die Werkself.

Bayern Munich faced injury problems of their own. Jerome Boateng and Mats Hummels were both unavailable forcing David Alaba to play in central defense alongside Javi Martinez. Ancelotti clearly had an eye on the midweek Champions League leg away to Madrid as he fielded Douglas Costa and Kingsley Coman, in place of Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery. Thiago played in the no. 10 role in front of the duo of Joshua Kimmich and Arturo Vidal. Thomas Muller continued up-front in Lewandowski’s absence.

First Half

Both teams were cautious from the first whistle. Leverkusen opted for a counter-attacking set-up. Bayern on the other hand were happy just to keep possession and opt for a patient build-up. Leverkusen were the better team for the first 20 minutes as they pressed well to force mistakes from a tired and depleted Bayern side.

Thiago was tasked with creating the chances for Bayern as Kimmich and Vidal were both involved in passing from deeper positions.

Kevin Kampl was particularly good for the hosts as the Slovenian pressed incessantly and won the ball in good areas. Most impressive about Leverkusen’s start was the involvement of the two wide-men Julian Brandt and Kai Havertz. 20 and 17 respectively, both the German wingers were very impressive beating Rafinha and Bernat, the Bayern wing-backs, on multiple occasions. Leverkusen’s tactic was basically to circulate the ball out wide for the wingers to deliver for Kevin Volland in the middle.

Bayern on the other hand were far from convincing in attack. The Bavarians were unable to open up a steady Leverkusen defense and Thiago was frequently harried or marked by either Julian Baumgartlinger or Charles Aranguiz. Douglas Costa and Kingsley Coman were also anonymous for large periods of the game barring one chance Coman had which was saved brilliantly by Bernd Leno. Thomas Muller playing as a No.9 was also problematic for Bayern who are used to Robert Lewandowski’s movement off the ball. Muller who specializes as a ramdeuter was unable to offer the same attacking prowess as Lewandowski and kept moving back into the role he was comfortable with leaving Bayern without a focal point.

Thiago was forced to drop deep and receive the ball as a result of Kimmich and Vidal’s inability to find passes and transition from defense to attack. This left the half-spaces in the Leverkusen defense virtually untroubled.

Bayern’s best chance of the game came in the 37th minute when the ball was played to Thomas Muller who ran in behind the defense. Omer Toprak was caught out of position and Tony Hilbert failed to track Kingsley Coman’s run into the box. The young Frenchman definitely should have scored but his shot was saved brilliantly by Bernd Leno. Alaba had the chance to score on the follow-up but Leverkusen’s strength in the box and some fantastic goal line defending from Toprak kept the scores level.

Second Half

Leverkusen put in a solid second half performance which was forced by a red card for Tin Jedvaj. The Croatian who was on a yellow, hacked down Thomas Muller and was given his marching orders. Korkut brought on Aleksandar Dragovic in place of Aranguiz in an attempt to keep Bayern from scoring. Luckily for the hosts, Bayern were barely able to fashion chances and never looked like scoring. Sideways passing and stagnant play frustrated Carlo Ancelotti and the Italian soon brought on Arjen Robben for a poor Douglas Costa. Bayern had 72% possession for the game but rarely took a shot on goal. Leverkusen on the other hand defended well and looked dangerous on the break. The introduction of Karim Bellarabi for Julian Brandt kept the Bayern defense wary of the threat posed. Kevin Volland had a half chance when Manuel Neuer’s throw fell straight to him but the forward snatched at the chance and saw it go wide. Philipp Lahm and Xabi Alonso were brought on for Javi Martinez and Kingsley Coman, both of whom limped off the pitch.

The move nearly paid off as Lahm was centimeters off scoring. With Rafinha on the right wing, Lahm operated as a No.8 and was present in the box to connect with a cross from the right wing. His shot beat Leno in the Leverkusen goal but drifted centimeters wide of the far post. This was Bayern’s most notable chance of the second half. Ancelotti didn’t have options on the bench either to look for the winner and Leverkusen held on to hold the league leaders to a draw.

Bayern were far from convincing in a game they would have hoped to win. With the Champions League on Carlo Ancelotti’s mind, Bayern fielded a depleted side and were unable to break down 10-man Leverkusen. On the other hand, the result is a good one for Tayfun Korkut’s men who will take encouragement from holding the league leaders to a draw after being a man down. The result does not really impact the table much but Bayern fans will be hoping their side don’t put up such a limp performance against Real Madrid.

Read all our tactical analyses here

Hrishi Anand

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