In the Zone: Bayern 7-1 Salzburg performance analysis
Tuesday, 15 March 2022
UEFA's Technical Observer panel analyse Bayern's resounding win against Salzburg.
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Bayern München can look forward with confidence to their tenth UEFA Champions League quarter-final in 11 seasons after the imperious manner of their last-16 victory over Salzburg.
In this article presented by FedEx, UEFA’s Technical Observer panel assesses how Bayern outclassed Salzburg, dominating possession and pressing high up the pitch, as they put seven goals past the Austrian champions to earn an 8-2 aggregate triumph.
1-0: Robert Lewandowski (pen, 12)
Bayern’s Poland striker converted the spot-kick after being fouled in the box by Maximilian Wöber. The penalty gained was the fruit of a brilliant first touch by Lewandowski who turned sharply on to Kingsley Coman’s cross into the box before drawing Wöber’s rash challenge.
2-0: Robert Lewandowski (pen, 21)
For the second time Lewandowski directed a penalty low to the goalkeeper’s right, with Philipp Köhn diving the other way once more. The foul, again committed by Wöber on Lewandowski, was initially given as a free-kick outside the box before being overturned by VAR.
3-0: Robert Lewandowski (23)
Lewandowski’s third of the night, and 12th of this UEFA Champions League season, was a lesson in determination. When Thomas Müller flicked a Manuel Neuer ball towards him on halfway, Lewandowski lacked his usual Velcro first touch first yet immediately contested the loose ball with Rasmus Kristensen, the ricochet forcing Omar Soulet into a header under pressure.
Müller capitalised with an attempted through pass and though goalkeeper Köhn got there first, Lewandowksi was there to block the clearance and send the ball heading towards goal. It bounced against a post and he was there to tap into the empty net.
4-0: Serge Gnabry (31)
Sustained pressure from Bayern was the source. When Mohamed Camara stopped an incursion by Jamal Musiala and carried the ball out of his penalty box, two men, Leroy Sané and Coman, were immediately right on top of him, putting pressure on the ball to prompt a high turnover and allow Coman slip the ball across to Gnabry. He took one touch then shot beneath the arms of Köhn.
5-0: Thomas Müller (54)
This excellent team goal involved eight players and followed a sequence of patient passing as Bayern moved the ball across the pitch via their three central defenders and two holding midfielders and Lewandowski and Müller offering options into feet ahead. The short passing options allowed Bayern to progress up the pitch until Sané supplied Müller who rolled his defender and drove superbly into the far corner.
5-1: Maurits Kjærgaard (70)
Salzburg struck from a fast counterattack after winning the ball from a Bayern throw. Brenden Aaronson drove forward with the ball in a 3v2 and slid a pass to his left, into the path of Kjægaard. The Danish teenager’s first touch moved the ball into the box before, with his left foot, he lashed a rising shot past Neuer at the near post. An emphatic way to score his first UEFA Champions League goal.
6-1: Thomas Müller (83)
This was another fine team goal with Müller involved in the build-up as well as the execution. As with their previous goal, they progressed up the pitch through their wide central defenders. Müller then played a one-two with Lewandowski followed by a second one-two with Leroy Sane, whose return pass found him in the box to finish.
7-1: Leroy Sané (85)
Salzburg sought to play out from a goal kick but a stray pass was pounced on by Müller. He exchanged passes with Benjamin Pavard and then fed Lewandowski who, receiving on the edge of the box, back-heeled the ball into the path of the overlapping Sané who swept it past Köhn at his near post.
Best player: Robert Lewandowski
It was the individual class and technical ability of Lewandowski that left Salzburg three down and effectively out of the tie after just 23 minutes. “One on one, he was too strong throughout the game for Salzburg's centre-halves" was the verdict of UEFA’s Technical Observer, assessing a player who, on top of his second hat-trick of this campaign, was heavily involved in Bayern’s build-up play, looking for the ball into his feet and laying on Sané’s goal at the end.
Coach Julien Nagelsmann stuck with his favoured three at the back with Niklas Süle (4) as the central defender and Pavard (5) and Lucas Hernández (21) as the wide centre-backs. Joshua Kimmich (6) and Musiala (42) acted as holding midfielders in front of the defence and looked to link play between the back three and the men in front – five attacking players with the freedom to move and interchange positions.
Of this quintet, Gnabry (7) and Coman (11) provided the width, with Müller (25) and Sane (10) operating in the half-spaces. Lewandowski (9) led the line but would often look to receive short into feet as Bayern had so many options running behind.
Out of possession, Bayern’s formation was much the same. Such was their dominance in possession that their starting positions on losing the ball were usually high up the pitch in the Salzburg half. This allowed them to press high immediately on transition and led to 11 recoveries in the attacking third – eight of which brought shots (the second-highest number in this 2021/22 season).
The visitors set up in a 1-4-3-1-2 formation with and without the ball. At times their shape looked very narrow as they sought to make the central areas of the pitch compact. With 28% of possession, they looked to defend from a mid/low block for the majority of the game and their threat came from winning the ball and counterattacking immediately. They could have scored twice within the opening five minutes after winning the ball and breaking quickly against Bayern’s exposed defence; eventually they did get a goal this way in the second half.
Set up in that 1-3-2-4-1 formation, Bayern dominated the match, recording 752 passes and finishing with 72% of possession. They outmatched Salzburg in all areas of the pitch. The first clip in the video at the top of the page shows how their three central defenders were able to bypass Salzburg’s two front men with Pavard and Hernández playing wide to stretch play.
In front of them Kimmich and Musiala were able to play around Salzburg’s Aaronson who was alone in the number 10 position, while Bayern’s front five looked to play between the lines while profiting from the width provided by Gnabry and Coman. This capacity to find space between the lines – as highlighted in the video – was embodied by Müller, who was was constantly looking to receive the ball in these areas.
Bayern’s attacking structure also allowed them to be well positioned on losing the ball, which, in turn, meant they could react quickly and press immediately on transition – as seen in Gnabry’s goal. Sané highlighted this willingness to work hard without the ball as, on top of a goal and two assists, he recorded six recoveries.
As for Salzburg, in the face of Bayern’s high pressure, they looked to build from the back both in open play and from goal-kicks. This was to their detriment at times, as evidenced by Bayern’s 11 recoveries in the attacking third and their seventh goal conceded, which came after they had lost the ball when trying to advance up the left side from a goal-kick.
Salzburg’s main attacking threat came when they won the ball and looked to break quickly, exploiting Bayern’s expansive shape. On this night, Bayern’s reaction to losing the ball prevented this from happening too often though the ease with which Salzburg got through to score – and that potential imbalance between attack and defence – may give Nagelsmann something to ponder when he plans their next step in this campaign.
Julian Nagelsmann, Bayern coach
"It was definitely a very, very good game. Technically incredible from us. We opened up so many situations with beautiful football that didn't lead to goals. Yet we still scored seven.
“We defended the two midfielders so aggressively from the off. Goals from all sorts of phases, set pieces, transitions and from open play."
Matthias Jaissle, Salzburg coach
"It was a really horrible evening and we are hugely disappointed, of course. A few other teams have come here and got a battering, and it happened to us a bit too. We are hugely disappointed, of course. We didn't manage to build on the first leg and perform as we can. We still feel proud, though, for being the youngest team to make the last 16, and nothing can take that away from the boys, not even a night like this."