In this series, we take a look at some of the most interesting matches in football, providing you with an in-depth tactical analysis powered by Wyscout tools and stats. This time, we analysed the 2019/20 UEFA Champions League final in Lisbon: Paris Saint-Germain v Bayern Munich.
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In what was a captivating Champions League final, Bayern Munich came out on top, defeating Paris Saint-Germain 1-0 with a goal from former PSG youth product Kingsley Coman separating the two teams.

Making just the solitary change to his starting lineup from the semi-final, Hansi Flick boldly dropped Ivan Perisic and handed Coman a starting berth. It must be said, not only due to him scoring the winner but also as he played so excellently, the Bayern coach was entirely vindicated for giving Coman the nod.

Thomas Tuchel only made the one alteration too, bringing back the recovered Keylor Navas in goal for Sergio Rico, meaning Marco Verratti had to be content with a place on the bench.

What followed was a tense, pulsating clash between two of Europe’s elite teams, as Flick overcame his countryman on the touchline courtesy of Bayern’s slick offensive mechanics, relentless energy and intelligent pressing.

Bayern’s high pressing set the tone brilliantly for their strong showing, as they implemented Flick’s astutely devised strategy successfully. Doing a sterling job of limiting PSG’s ability to build out from the back, their 4-2-2-2 structure worked a treat.

To kick things off, wingers Coman and Serge Gnabry would come inside to mark PSG’s central defenders while curving their press to keep the opposition fullbacks in their cover shadow. Robert Lewandowksi and Thomas Muller would then monitor dropping midfielders Marquinhos and Leandro Paredes, who were positioned 10 yards from the edge of the box. Leon Goretzka looked to keep tabs on Ander Herrera, while Thiago and the backline would look after PSG’s wickedly talented frontline of Neymar, Kylian Mbappé and Angel Di Maria.

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Bayern’s high pressing scheme.
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Bayern’s pressing setup.

Blocking passing lanes expertly and harrying with tremendous intensity, FC Bayern forced many turnovers with their proactive approach, allowing them to recover the ball high and attack the unset PSG backline.

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Bayern regaining the ball with their pressing to attack PSG 5v3.

Their setup subsequently ensured PSG had to go long or play lower percentage lofted passes to the fullbacks. How they set traps to give the ball holder the perception that a receiver was free before then jumping out, and used triggers like a backpass or pass towards the sideline, duly heightened problems for their adversaries.

Upon looking at their offensive exertions, and Bayern were equally damaging in this regard. A team that has so many weapons that can hurt their foes in a variety of ways, Bayern didn’t disappoint even though they only scored the one goal. From their base 4-2-3-1 animation, Bayern’s multifaceted movement in their attacking half continually manipulated and asked questions of Tuchel’s men.

Performing superbly executed rotations throughout, the front four coherently dovetailed with one another, plus onrushing central mid Goretzka and the fullbacks, to find openings persistently. Always on the same page with their interchanges, opposition markers’ reference points were constantly being altered, thus placing doubt in their minds on who to track who in what zone.

Taking advantage of the disconnects created within the PSG rearguard, plentiful examples arose of gaps being exploited by shrewd runs in behind from not just attackers but also the fullbacks and Goretzka arriving from deep. With runs into depth proving vital no matter if they originated between defenders, on the blindside or came about using opposite movements or dummy runs, it was unsurprising their goal arrived following a nifty burst by Coman (more on this later).

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Gnabry’s superb blindside run as Bernat is occupied by Muller.
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Gnabry drawing his marker as Kimmich pushes up in acres of space.

The fact Bayern regularly found spaces between PSG’s defensive and midfield lines, when they lured out pressers from midfield and the attackers pinned the backline, was another feature.

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Muller coming short to expertly break the press.
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Gnabry getting free again after switching with Muller.
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Gnabry finding space between the lines after rotating with Muller.

Varying their methods of attack cleverly, how Muller especially or another would push to the near side and create overloads to bypass the opposition saw them beat the press cleanly. Doing so by finding third man runners or by engaging in slick combination play, PSG were outfoxed on many occasions out wide and in the half-spaces.

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Muller pushing across to support the attack while forming a 3v2.
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Forming a 4v3 out wide to beat the press out wide.

By pinning and drawing opponents astutely and using the overload to isolate principle, this meant Bayern could find their wingers or Alphonso Davies via quick switches of play, where they could use their qualitative superiority to wreak havoc. Thiago’s immaculate distribution unquestionably helped Bayern achieve the afore, but his impact didn’t end there, however.

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Davies receiving the switch as Coman pins his marker infield.

Dropping deep to assist build-up or operating in true central midfield locations, the Spanish international’s intelligent positioning and mesmerizing range of passing enabled him to control and dictate passages with aplomb. Whether breaking the lines, hitting raking switches, or incisive through balls, his progressive distribution fittingly even proved the catalyst for Bayern’s opener. In this case, Thiago’s sizzling diagonal switch removed four opponents from the equation to find Joshua Kimmich, who’d rotated with Gnabry.

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Thiago’s line-breaking pass prior to the winner.

The German international then struck a lovely cross to the back post to oblige Coman’s slick run that saw him create a 2v1 against Thilo Kehrer before heading home clinically.

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Kimmich’s lovely assist to oblige’s Coman’s run.

In a move that encapsulated many of the essential elements of their attacking efforts, including how efficiently they get numbers into the area for crosses and cutbacks, Flick would’ve been delighted about the winner.

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Bayern occupying the box with six players at different heights and depths.

Although Bayern enjoyed the lion’s share of possession (63.48%) and looked far more dangerous, there were still many promising moments produced by PSG. Looking extremely threatening in transition, they’d break with searing pace against Bayern’s aggressive high line. Even though Bayern would often keep Kimmich tucked in to help deal with Mbappe and a midfielder back to help the center backs, stopping PSG completely proved troublesome.

Blessed with immense athleticism and skill, once the Parisiens broke upfield, Neymar, Mbappe and Di Maria stretched the backline with their neat routes, often finding themselves in ideal 3v2 and 3v3s against the backpedaling Bayern backline.

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PSG breaking in a 3v3 on the counter.

Manufacturing multiple chances through this avenue, much disappointment arose from the many chances the outrageously gifted Mbappe and Neymar missed in favorable areas following rapid transitions. Had these chances been taken, things could definitely have been different, but it wasn’t to be, with Manuel Neuer’s outstanding saves key towards PSG remaining scoreless too.

Upside could also be found in Tuchel’s pressing scheme, as the French outfit admirably dealt with Bayern. Despite not always being successful due to the nous of Flick’s men, they still deserved credit. Organizing themselves into an asymmetrical 4-3-3/4-4-2 shape, Neymar would be positioned so he had access to either center-back and so he could also block the lane to Thiago. To the left of the Brazilian, Mbappe had a mixed role, which consisted of either pressing the nearby full back, center midfielder or central defender.

Di Maria then smartly angled his pressure to shut off the passing lane towards Davies while stepping out to David Alaba. If the ball was chipped over the top to Davies, one of Herrera or Kehrer would step out to the Canadian flyer, using the amount of time the ball had to travel and how air passes are more difficult to control as a trigger to go hard. PSG’s three mids in Herrera, Paredes and Marquinhos would usually be oriented towards Thiago, Goretzka and Muller, except when pressing into wide areas as mentioned above.

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PSG’s pressing mechanics.
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PSG’s pressing setup.

As the match wore on and Bayern began to find ways to beat the press, retreating into a more horizontally compact 4-5-1 mid-block shape was Tuchel’s choice.

Entertaining and full of quality, the 2019/2020 Champions League final was definitely one to remember. Although PSG will rue their missed opportunities, no one could begrudge Bayern being deserved winners.

Sealing a remarkable treble for the Bavarian giants in the process, this was the perfect way to sign off an incredible campaign for Bayern and their hugely impressive manager, who’s masterfully instilled his philosophy since taking over last November to propel his team to glory.

 

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