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In the Zone: Bayern 4-3 Man United performance analysis

UEFA's Technical Observer panel analyse how Bayern got the better of Manchester United in a seven-goal thriller on Matchday 1.

The 1999 UEFA Champions League finalists, Bayern München and Manchester United, met for the first time since 2014 in their opening Group A fixture on Tuesday.

It was a match full of goals and talking points and, in this article brought to you by FedEx, UEFA's Technical Observer panel assess several key tactical details from Bayern's 4-3 success, including the German champions' deployment of two false nines.

Bayern's win as it happened


Highlights: Bayern 4-3 Man United

1-0: Leroy Sané (28)

The opening goal showcased Sané's threat cutting inside (see Features below) as he stepped in from the right, fed Harry Kane and then met the Englishman's lay-off with a snap-shot from the edge of the penalty area which squeezed under André Onana and into the net. "I made a mistake and it was a key point," said the goalkeeper.

2-0: Serge Gnabry (32)

A wonderful penetrating run by Jamal Musiala was the source. Racing into the penalty area from the left, he cut inside Diogo Dalot then laid the ball back for Gnabry, who drove in his 15th goal in 45 Champions League appearances. "His ability to drop deep, turn and dribble is his greatest strength," said Bayern coach Thomas Tuchel of Musiala.

2-1: Rasmus Højlund (49)

A swift exchange of passes from United ended with Marcus Rashford's first-time lay-off to Højlund, who took one touch himself before sliding in a low shot on the turn for his first United goal.

3-1: Harry Kane (53, penalty)

With Christian Eriksen penalised for a handball, the England captain opened his Champions League account for Bayern, thumping the ball low past the diving Onana and into the bottom-right corner.

3-2: Casemiro (88)

After more one-touch play around the box from United, Casemiro ran on to Anthony Martial's flick, lost his footing as he shaped to shoot yet somehow still squeezed the ball past Sven Ulreich while on the ground.

4-2: Mathys Tel (90+2)

Collecting Joshua Kimmich's lofted pass over United's back line, the French teenager cushioned the ball on his knee then lashed it into the roof of the net for a memorable first Champions League goal.

4-3: Casemiro (90+5)

Having already marked his 100th appearance in UEFA club competition with a maiden European goal for United, the Brazilian added another by nodding in from Bruno Fernandes whipped free-kick into the goalmouth.

Player of the Match: Leroy Sané (Bayern)

The former Manchester City player struck the opening goal and helped to make the difference for Bayern according to UEFA's match observer, who elaborated: "He was decisive at getting away from his marker and creating a numerical advantage offensively that United couldn't defend. He had a key goal and role in the victory alongside Musiala."

Team formations


Man United


Coming into this contest, United had lost three of their opening five Premier League matches and had 12 players unavailable. And in front of a crowd of 75,000 in Munich they soon faced further challenges.

The UEFA technical observer pinpointed how Bayern played in possession, with Kane and Musiala operating as false nines – and asking questions of their visitors. The first video (below) shows the impact of both men – focusing first on Kane's positioning to create space in behind, and then the positional play of Musiala.

In the Zone: Bayern attacking play

The observer explained: "Bayern formed a box with Leon Goreztka and Joshua Kimmich, then Sané and Gnabry out wide. It was very clever as playing with false nines created confusion and stretched United's central defenders, Lisandro Martínez and Victor Lindelöf." It presented this pair Martinez and Lindelöf with a dilemma over when to push up as they wanted to protect the space behind them and risked ending up in no man's land.

Similarly, for Eriksen and Casemiro, the holding midfielders responsible for protecting the space in front of the defenders, they had to decide whether to zonally mark Kane and Musiala or push up towards Fernandes. It was a difficult choice and, when the correct decision was not made, it allowed Bayern to create overloads.

"Bayern hurt United with their excellent movement and passing, most effectively when it went straight into the path of Musiala or Kane," said the observer. "The timing of movement from those front players was fine and it was a very good overall team performance."

Reflecting on his role in an interview with CBS Sports afterwards, Kane said: "Jamal and I played more as No10s and we allowed the wingers to almost play one-v-one against the full-backs."

Clip 2 in the first video highlights not just the positioning of Musiala but also his dribbling ability, which was a pivotal part of Bayern's armoury according to the UEFA observer.

"Manchester United defended in a mixed zonal/man-marking system," he said. "The advantage with that system is that when it works you can control and nullify. It didn't happen against Bayern and created issues. Ahead of the goals, Musiala managed to bypass his marker, which then created a chain of problems for United."

"United's players were unsure whether to stay with the Musiala or engage," added the observer. "We saw that for two goals as Musiala, Sané and Gnabry caused complications for United." In the case of Sané, we see this in the third clip which illustrates how he came in from out wide on penetrating runs. Often these would end with either a shot or pass – indeed, among the Bayern players, Sané's total of four shots and three key passes was matched only by Kane.

In the Zone: Laimer and Rashford's wing duel

Another sub-plot of the game which drew the interest of the match observer was the duel between Konrad Laimer and Rashford – and this forms the focus of the second analysis video (above).

"Laimer is originally a right winger and so offensively-minded and it was intriguing to watch these two players taking each other on throughout the whole game," remarked the observer.

In the video we see examples of each player taking on the other and each had his moments. Rashford ended the game with five ball carries following a one-v-one, while Laimer produced four.

To offer another metric, Rashford's total of nine take-ons was surpassed this week by only three players – Copenhagen's Mohamed Achouri, Benfica's Ángel Di María and Paris Saint-Germain's Kylian Mbappé, and none could better the Mancunian's success ratio of 55.6%.

Coaches' and players' assessments

Thomas Tuchel, Bayern coach: "[Kane] played a different role in a half-position. He was asked to turn and assist and find speed on the wings. He was more involved in the second half, much like the whole team, who were more fluid

"We're posing a threat in every game, creating chances in every game, but we were very reserved in the opening exchanges and lucky not to fall behind. The goals helped up establish some confidence and fluidity. We're not 100% happy so far, but the reactions to adversity tonight were very good.

"It was a bit paradoxical because our second half was better than our first but we lost the second and won the first."

Erik ten Hag, Man United coach: "When you score three goals in Munich, you have to take at least a point, which we didn't. We have to take a look at ourselves in the mirror.

“Every game is important but we have to make our own luck. No one is going to help you, but if you see our first 25 minutes then we have to score a goal – and, if not, stay in the game. And don't allow an opponent to score a goal like we did. It's not just about one mistake. You have to be consistent and then you will win games. Only we can do it. It's in our hands, no one else's."

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