Tactical Analysis: Arsenal 2-2 Bayern Munich

In the Emirates, a feast was prepared with the promise of a German delicacy gracing the table, setting the stage for a spectacle of unexpected twists and turns akin to a masterfully crafted drama. For as the night unfolded, it became evident that the esteemed German guests, adorned in their Munich colors, harbored a surprising appetite.


Rather than indulging in their homeland’s fare, they hungered for a distinctly English flavor – an insatiable craving for the taste of an all-English breakfast, regardless of the hour. And so, amidst the clash of titans on the pitch, it was the outsiders- we ,the viewers- who were served a delectable performance, leaving fans enraptured and pundits in awe. Such is the magic of football – where the menu may promise one thing, but the outcome delivers an entirely different, yet utterly captivating, a spectacle.


Bayern sought to build up with Matthijs de Ligt and Eric Dier split on either side of Manuel Neuer, with Konrad Laimer and Leon Goretzka positioned as the double pivots to aid ball progression. However, Arsenal aimed to expose Bayern’s weaknesses with a 4-4-2 pressing structure. Kai Havertz pressed Neuer and covered De Ligt, while Martin Odegaard marked Laimer and Declan Rice took care of Goretzka.


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This left Dier as Neuer’s only free option, leading to Arsenal’s trap. When the ball reached Dier, Arsenal sprang into action, pressing him and forcing hurried clearances, disrupting Bayern’s plans. Bayern needed ingenuity to escape Arsenal’s trap, which Neuer provided by evading Havertz and finding a pass to De Ligt. From there, they could launch attacks, with Leroy Sane exploiting 1v1 opportunities or creating chances for Harry Kane, Jamal Musiala, or Serge Gnabry. 


However, Bayern’s deadliest moments came when they won the ball off Arsenal. With Kane dropping deep to receive, he fed balls to Sane or Musiala making runs behind the defense. Despite Arsenal scoring first through Bukayo Saka, they quickly found themselves 2-1 down at home, with Bayern looking comfortable. 


Arsenal sought a solution in the second half, replacing Jakub Kwior with OleksandrZinchenko to add dimension to their build-up and strengthen their attack. Zinchenko’s attacking prowess and ability to make penetrative passes posed a new challenge for Bayern. By forming a midfield box with Rice, Zinchenko created a dilemma for Sane, who had to choose between pressing Zinchenko or leaving Havertz free.


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Additionally, substitutes Leandro Trossard and Gabriel Jesus added complexity to Arsenal’s attack, pulling apart Bayern’s compact structure. Zinchenko functioning at times  as the sole defensive midfielder aided Arsenal’s ball progression, while Rice and Jorginho formed a diamond with Havertz, Odegaard, and Rice, allowing for central progression and better ball retention, ultimately limiting Bayern’s transitions and counterattacks.


A tantalising first leg encounter is over and the conclusion is still unwritten. With the tie delicately poised, the Allianz Arena serves the theatre to completely set a blaze an abysmal and otherwise forgettable season for Bayern Munich or usher this young Arsenal team into European aristocratic table of  four.


Might it also be that the Gunners will have their snatched from their hands by the sheer bully of the German Aristocrats. Only fate knows and she hides this secret as she retreats behind the curtains, her laughter fading  off as the curtains falls.As for us we can only watch the curtains, waiting with baited breath for the next time the curtains will rise and the stage will be open.


By: Tobi Peter / @keepIT_tactical

Featured Image: @GabFoligno / James Williamson – AMA / Getty Images