The defeat from Bayern on the case. Barcelona were worse in every way
The first match against Bayern after a historic 2-8 defeat is no ordinary game, even if Barcelona argued with it. But they did not argue there. Ronald Koeman stressed that more than a year has passed and that his team can harm the opponent. It seems to be said with respect to itself, but also carefully. Sergio Busquets also remembered that game and said that the result is still difficult to accept. This backstory makes the game special.
Koeman chose a 5-3-2 pattern. Without the ball, Barcelona lined up in defense in a narrow five in a line, so that the full-backs acted on the wingers of Bayern, and Lewandowski remained against three opponents. Depay and Luc de Jong , to whom Pedri and Frenkie de Jong sometimes took turns , formed the first line of pressure, but it was rather formal, and Bayern did not always even notice this pressure.
Julian Nagelsman played with the team’s usual 4-2-3-1 formation. The only (and very relative) surprise is how the flanks of Zane and Musial will be divided , since both can play both from the right and from the left. Zanewent out on the left, Musiala – on the right. Without the ball, the guests aggressively entered into pressure in the opponent’s half and rather quickly suppressed the weak attempts of the Catalans to start attacks through a pass.
Barcelona kept up well under pressure for about 15 minutes. On this stretch, the hosts lured Bayern away through a draw, and then quickly played into the vacated zones. From this, several good approaches to Neuer’s goal were born , as well as an attack, which Kimmich had to disrupt at the cost of a yellow card.
But by the middle of the first half, the plan stopped working. Lewandowski, Musiala and Zane dismantled the three central defenders, while Davis and Pavar , initially occupying the half-position, met the wingers highly. Busquets was controlled by Müller. This is risky, because Zyule and Yupamekano remained alone against Depay and de Jong, but Barcelona could not take advantage of this and bring the attacks to coordinated jerks and passes behind the back.
Just in the middle of the first half, Bayern, using pressure, provoked an error in the center (Busquets gave inaccurately to de Jong) and carried out a four-on-four attack. The most dangerous attack, during which the ball went around the penalty area of Barcelona for 10 seconds. Piquet threw himself under Musiala’s blow.
Pique, Garcia and Araujo had to either play as a takeaway, or sterile roll the ball between themselves. But even the most cautious play sometimes failed under pressure. As at the end of the first half, when, after an interception in the center, Musiala broke through on the flank and the guests stopped in a pass from a dangerous attack.
In parallel with the inability to overcome the pressure, another problem appeared. Barcelona couldn’t keep up with Bayern’s passing speed. The hosts did not have time: the central midfielders were torn apart over a large space, and the compact five of the defenders did not guarantee the absence of chances. Müller pulled back and played between the lines. The midfielders did not have time to react to this movement if the attack was rapidly developing from the flank to the center, and the defenders ignored it and did not move out of the line.
This problem was exploited by Müller when he opened an account. The attack developed through the left flank, where all the Barcelona midfielders moved in, leaving the center free. Mueller, whom Busquets lost, asked for the ball for a long time, did not receive it immediately (the pass went to Zana), but still remained alone. And he had enough time to earn a pass and shoot before Busquets could return.
The ending of the half made an ambiguous impression. On the one hand, Bayern Munich did not tear the hosts apart and did not create moment by moment. On the other hand, Barcelona were focused solely on keeping a minimum defeat. A careful roll between defenders or long throws into the fight – no counterplay, no risk.
The score of 1: 0 did not reflect the advantages of the guests. To recoup, Koeman had to come up with something radical during the break. But Barcelona missed the second one pretty quickly. In part, this can be attributed to bad luck: Davis’s first blow was delivered from a non-dangerous position and blocked, but the ball bounced to Musiale, who was alone in the penalty arc. Again the failure of the support zone: de Jong pulled into a tackle, Pedri covered the left semi-flank, and Busquets played the entire episode on foot and was late. Musiala’s blow hit the post, Lewandowski was the first to finish. In general, Bayern won the second goals for almost the entire match.
Kuman Log replaced Busquets, but was also forced to remove the injured Alba. Three more replacements: Demir, Coutinho and Minguez instead of Luc de Jong, Garcia and Roberto. As a result of the rearrangements, the formation changed to 4-3-3 with Depay, Demir and Coutinho in the attack and Mingesa with Balde on the flanks.
After these replacements for Barcelona it became a little scary. There were four players 18 and under at the same time on the field: Pedri (oldest), Demir, Gabi and Balde. But for a few minutes there was a surge of attacking activity. The players went in a stroke, the young ones filled in the zones and passed on touch. The ball immediately began to move faster, and Bayern’s pressing failed a couple of times.
Bayern stopped this activity with the third goal. Again Lewandowski, again for finishing off the post, but the goal cannot be attributed to a coincidence. Davis and Gnabry together pressed Demir, who covered the ball with his body for several seconds, but no one opened up for a pass. And after that Barcelona missed a pass along the entire penalty area. Well, the finishing move is already a bonus. A goal that reveals many shortcomings at once.
Barcelona and Bayern are at different stages of evolution, so the defeat of the hosts could be expected. But such an obvious helplessness still surprised me. Barcelona could not cope with the pressure, could not offer anything in positional attacks and could not reliably close without the ball. Defeat on the case.