Bayern Munich overcame a resilient SC Paderborn late on thanks to a brace from Robert Lewandowski to win 3-2 at the Allianz Arena and extend their lead atop the Bundesliga table by four points. The defeat leaves Steffen Baumgart’s side at the bottom of the table, four points away from the automatic relegation zone.
This tactical analysis will shine a light on the tactics that Hansi Flick’s squad displayed to defeat Paderborn. It will also provide some analysis on what Paderborn did to peg back the reigning Bundesliga champions twice in the game. Paderborn once again caused trouble for a top team in the league, but Die Roten’s star quality proved to be the difference.
The Bavarians opted to start with a 3-4-2-1 due to some personnel changes. As usual, Manuel Neuer started in goal. In front of the captain was a makeshift defence that consisted of Lucas Hernandez, David Alaba, and Joshua Kimmich. Alphonso Davies started as the left wing-back with Real Madrid loanee Alvaro Odriozola starting on the right-hand side with Benjamin Pavard suspended. Corentin Tolisso replaced an injured Leon Goretzka and played alongside Thiago Alcantara. Serge Gnabry and Philippe Coutinho started just behind Robert Lewandowski.
Paderborn lined up in a familiar 4-2-3-1 with only one change in the backline and goalkeeper as Gerrit Holtmann replaced Jamilu Collins. The defensive midfielders consisted of Sebastian Vasiliadis and Klaus Gjasula, with Christopher Antwi-Adjei, Kai Proger, and Dennis Srbeny playing as attacking midfielders. Streli Mamba once again started up front for Steffen Baumgart’s team.
Bayern’s aggressive pressing and high line
Since Hansi Flick’s arrival, Bayern have liked to press extremely high and suffocate the opposition in their half. Against Paderborn, it was on show once again. Their press is usually extremely effective as it allows them to regain possession quicker since the opposition usually struggle to beat the press with either intricate passing or direct balls into their forwards. The success in their pressing is identified by their extremely low PPDA of 6.5 in the game, a statistic that means that Bayern only allowed nearly 7 passes per defensive action. It was also an important factor as to why Paderborn were only able to keep possession for 30% of the match.
The image above encapsulates everything about how Bayern like to press. Each Bayern player is marking a Paderborn player man to man and has been able to contain the Paderborn players inside their half due to their insistence of playing out from the defence. The wing-backs Alphonso Davies and Alvaro Odriozola, circled in the picture, will look to press the opposition’s full-backs and pin them down so that Paderborn aren’t able to launch an attack. In this instance, Paderborn’s keeper is forced to go long and Bayern win the second ball and recycle possession.
In this example, Die Roten once again press extremely high and aggressive to great effect. Klaus Gjasula gets caught in possession by Corentin Tolisso who is in a very advanced position but manages to win the ball and play Philippe Coutinho through. However, the Brazilian misses a quilt-edged opportunity to put Bayern 2-0 up. This happened quite frequently for Flick’s men as they were able to capitalise on Paderborn’s inability to play through the press to create great goalscoring chances. Out of the Bavarians’ three goals in the game, two came from winning the ball back from a high press with the example below being from the Bayern’s second goal of the game.
Here, defender Lucas Hernandez, the player on the far left, wins the ball after Paderborn try to play out from a goal kick. Once again, this highlights Bayern’s willingness to press high even in the 70th minute as Lucas is in a position that normally a winger would occupy. Thiago, who is circled alongside a Paderborn player, covers him and makes sure to stay on the halfway line so that the opposition cannot play through them.
Paderborn’s exploiting space
Even though Bayern’s high line and press worked well for them sometimes, that is not to say that it was perfect. Paderborn manager Steffen Baumgart had his side set up well to take advantage of the huge amount of space in behind the Bayern defence. They played a low-block and let Bayern dominate possession without any attempt to press them, which is shown by their extremely high PPDA of 31.2. This ended up working for them since both Paderborn goals came from taking advantage of said space. In Streli Mamba and substitute Sven Michel, Paderborn had players that could take advantage of that. How Paderborn were able to exploit the space in this fixture was through either playing long and direct balls in behind the defence or beating Bayern’s aggressive press – tactics that worked some of the time.
In this example, Paderborn were able to have some great interplay and beat Bayern’s press from the goal-kick to give them a chance of attacking the last line of defence. As you can see, Die Roten’s defensive line is a mess. Lucas Hernandez tries to play the offside line by staying on the halfway line but Alphonso Davies drops back in an attempt to use his speed to get to the pass ahead of the attacker. In the end, Mamba’s pass was too strong and Bayern keeper Manuel Neuer was able to rescue his defence by sweeping up the overhit pass.
Unfortunately for the captain, he tried to do this again late on in the first half but it backfired for him and the Bavarians. The Bayern defenders lose concentration and allow Dennis Srbeny to spin and run in behind them. The long ball was slightly overhit by defender Christian Strohdiek but Neuer is beaten to the ball by Srbeny who then scores. Despite the Paderborn equaliser coming thanks to an error by Neuer, the long ball was able to bypass the whole Bayern team and Srbeny was able to turn into a lot of open space. It was one of the rare times that Paderborn were able to exploit the space via a long ball as throughout the game, the passes were not connecting even if the movement was there. In fact, Paderborn’s long pass share percentage was very high at 21% and explains why their pass accuracy was only 73%.
The picture above highlights how Paderborn were able to score their second goal of the game. Three Paderborn players are making attacking runs since they were trying to find an equaliser once again. In this instance, Joshua Kimmich is caught slightly out of position in the offside line that Bayern are trying to play. This allows Dennis Jastrzembski to run onto Christopher Antwi-Adjei’s through-ball and have an attempt on goal. Neuer was able to save it but the rebound fell to substitute Sven Michel who scored easily. The goal began from Antwi-Adjei who was able to capitalise on Serge Gnabry’s poor touch and launch a quick counter.
Die Roten’s struggles with wing-backs
As mentioned previously, Alphonso Davies and Alvaro Odriozola started as wing-backs for Hansi Flick’s team due to some personnel issues. Both have been highly touted as the next great full-backs but were unable to make their mark in this game thanks to Paderborn’s great set-up and Bayern’s inability to give them support. In fairness to Bayern, it was their first time playing with a three at the back system this season under Flick. Paderborn were able to cut out the passing options for the wing-backs and forced them to play the ball into a more congested midfield. This was a big reason as to why Bayern were unable to dominate against Paderborn despite the gulf in individual quality.
In this picture above, Davies was forced to take on a player as he had no passing options available to him. He was able to just get past but is now trapped by four players and only has Philippe Coutinho as his only passing option. The Brazilian is tightly marked and Davies looks to play a one-two with him as there is some space to attack. However, the likelihood of Coutinho making that pass under heavy pressure is very low even with his playmaking abilities. The pass ends up going astray and Paderborn are able to clear the ball.
This picture shows an extremely similar situation at the other side of the pitch where Odriozola has no options to play it into bar Robert Lewandowski who is tightly marked. Normally there should be a midfielder, in this case Corentin Tolisso, to support the wing-back as well as one of the forwards. Once again, the wing-back has four opposition players focused on him and he is forced to play it back to the centre-backs.
Here, Davies played a one-two with Serge Gnabry, who’s in the middle circle, but has no viable option to progress the play. Therefore, the Canadian is forced to play it back to the centre-backs since Paderborn have covered each passing option and are pressing him. The lack of movement from all three players highlighted was a key reason why the wing-backs were unable to have the impact they could have.
Davies was unable to create any meaningful opportunities despite being higher up the pitch than normal as his dribbling was neutralised by Paderborn doubling him up when he received the ball. This is highlighted by the fact that he only completed a single dribble in 10 attempts whereas in the previous five games he had completed 45% of his dribbles. Meanwhile, Odriozola was able to some good opportunities by delivering some great crosses after he was forced out wide by the Paderborn defenders connecting with half of his balls into the box and the most of any player in the game with five completed crosses. The Spaniard also only completed a single dribble out of seven attempts showcasing how Paderborn were able to limit the impact of the wing-backs.
Bayern Munich were forced to work for a tough win against a plucky Paderborn side. Steffen Baumgart can be content that his team were able to go toe-to-toe tactically with the league leaders but Bayern’s quality proved to be too much in the end. Hansi Flick’s men will look to extend their brilliant form and stay ahead of title-rivals RB Leipzig when they next face Hoffenheim way from home.
Paderborn have been excellent against all the top-four teams in the league but once again walk away with no points on the board. A win against another relegation-threatened team in Mainz 05 could massively help their cause of staying in the league. If they can produce a performance of this ilk regularly, they could climb up the league.