Mainz vs. Bayern notes 3-1
The biggest problem today was not created by individual players but the pitch that they played on. Pitch was long and narrow and it really stretched both teams shape. It put each team at risk of becoming disjointed and easy to counter attack against. At the end of the match it was Bayern who was the most cohesive and exploited the problems that came with playing on a really long and narrow pitch.
Formations & Player Roles effect on the game
To be honest the fact that Bayern had better players had a bigger impact on the game than the formations did. They both used a 4-2-3-1 of some sort. Although Bayern’s 4-2-3-1 easily became a 4-2-2-2 and Mainz’s 4-2-3-1 was more of a 4-3-1-2 when defending both teams matched up well. There was no obvious space being conceding by one team. When teams play similar formations the game is often won by the team who has the technically better players. Here’s why when two teams are using the same formation than there tends to be a lot of 1v1 duels. The team with technically better players wins the 1v1 duels and is able to create space. If your winger skins the opposition’s fb you now have more space because you have just taken one of the opposition defenders out of the equation.
Importance of Being Compact
If you are playing on a long pitch and pressing without pushing up really high it is easy to become disjointed and that makes it easy for your opposition to effectively isolate half your team with just one pass. (See the second goal http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UFcvpRfNXvc&feature=player_detailpage#t=46s ). With one pass the Bayern midfielder cut out the Mainzs midfield and left their back line bare to deal with 3 world class players.
There are more negative effects that come with a disjointed team. The reason why it is so easy for your team to become disjointed on a long pitch if you press and don’t push up really high is because they have to cover a lot more area just to press high. This puts a lot of space between each of the units’ defense, midfield, attack and makes it hard to pass which is probably the main reason Mainzs struggled for possession. (http://soccernet.espn.go.com/match?id=297114&cc=5901)
Bayern did a lot better job of being compact without the ball. They pressed on the half way line due to extremely long pitch and their defensive line was in between their 18 yard line and the half way line. Thus they managed to compact their team in the upper portion of their half. (see figure one) This was a very smart move from Louis van Gaal. On occasions when Bayern did lose the ball often the entire team but Gomez was right below the half way line. (This can be seen in the 57th minute of the game) Instead of stretching his team trying to press high up the field he had them compact and tight which made them hard to break down.
Positive effect of Mainz’s pressing-
Although Mainz’s pressing generally left their team disjointed and susceptible to the counter attack it did have a positive effect. When teams have the ball they usually push up their line so that there back line is still connected to the rest of their team. When Mainz pressed the Bayern back line they rushed the Bayern defenders to make a quick pass or a mistake on the ball. (http://espn.go.com/espn3/player?id=131209&league=German%20Bundesliga&size=condensed go to 28:46 to see this in action.)
This didn’t happen to Bayern to often though; they have technically accomplished players who can pass under pressure. If this were a less technically gifted side they would have had to lower their defensive line to deal with the high pressing from Mainz’s. Here’s why, if a side with low technical ability was had a high line vs. Mainz there defenders would struggle to pick out a good pass since they would be under heavy pressure and wouldn’t have the ability or composure to deal with the situation. Good passing starts at the back if the opposition puts your backline under pressure on the ball and your backline doesn’t have the ability to deal with it, it can lead to the breakdown of your passing system.
How Bayern Dominated possession but both teams had around same shots on goal & target (First half)
Mainz and Bayern both had around the same # of shots and shots on target, even though Bayern had 60% possession to Mainz’s 40%. Now usually the team with the most possession will dominate in the shooting category. This oddity tells us 2 things.
When Mainz did have the ball they played more direct football and spent less time crafting attacking moves. That was a smart move on Thomas Tuchel (Mainz coach) part. When using a side with generally lower technical ability than the opposition you have to play more direct football; because you will struggle to retain the ball as well as the technically superior opposition. If you try to play possession football with a technically inferior side you won’t create chances. Since your players are at a general lower quality to the opposition players the longer you hold on to the chance of misplacing a pass and or the pass getting intercepted goes up. You may string together a few good passes in midfield but you will struggle to keep the ball long enough to form a solid attacking move. Plus this pitch didn’t favor passing football, both teams played fairly direct football but Mainz were often more direct.
Mainz did well despite conceding in the first half.
Second half changes-
Mainz pushed full backs forward leaving 2 cds and 2 dms to defend while they attack. This helped them by giving more passing options in midfield. There possession stats rose from 40% in first half to 45% second half. This is most likely due to the fact that they had more passing options in midfield and Bayern passed more direct in the second half to exploit the disjointed Mainz team. Even though Mainz’s having their fbs push fw help them keep the ball better it hurt them defensively. Their team was already disjointed that meant that if Bayern countered the fb wouldn’t be able to get back into position to defend. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tDraYtESG9w&feature=player_detailpage#t=82s at 1:29 the only people back defend the Bayern counter attack are the 2 Mainz center backs and Mainz’s 2 DMs)
Lessons to be learnt from this game-
When playing on a long pitch make your team compact. Don’t press up high without pushing your back lineup this is a general rule of thumb but it needs to be strictly applied when playing on a long field. If your team is disjointed it means if the opposition play one direct ball into attack they have already cut half your team out of the action. Bayern did this often and it lead to their 4-5 attackers up against either a Mainz’s back 4. Mains did alright in attack occasionally threatening with their front 4. Bayern were generally more compact and exploited the spilt in the Mainz team. Bayern played more direct passes in second half and with Mainz attacking and stretching their team more and more it was inevitable that Bayern would eventually catch them out on the counter.