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Champions League performance insights: Wings key for Bayern and Man United attacks

UEFA's analysis unit puts Bayern's Matchday 1 win against Man United under the microscope.

Serge Gnabry played a key role in Bayern's 4-3 win against Manchester United on Matchday 1
Serge Gnabry played a key role in Bayern's 4-3 win against Manchester United on Matchday 1 Getty Images

Wide attacking was a central theme of the UEFA Champions League Matchday 1 meeting between Bayern München and Manchester United.

The wings were the key areas for each side to penetrate their opponents’ back line, though, and as this analysis shows, each went about their work in the final third in different ways.

Performance Analysis: Bayern's attacks

The heatmap showing Bayern’s lane progressions in the first video above highlights where Thomas Tuchel’s men advanced the ball most – namely, Lanes 1 and 5 where Serge Gnabry and Leroy Sané operated.

Between them Gnabry and Sané were responsible for more than half of Bayern’s progressions (27% each) in the attacking third.

To further underline the German champions’ approach in a Group A contest where their wingers’ penetrating runs caught the eye , individual actions were the source of 43% of their final-third progressions.

The ability of their wingers (plus Jamal Musiala, operating centrally) to beat their markers is also illustrated by the fact they were successful in 17 of their 23 take-ons – a success rate of 74% which was comfortably the best on Matchday 1.

Performance analysis: Man United's attacking trends

United ended the game with a respectable success rate of 55% from 20 take-ons – nine of them from Marcus Rashford. This second video above shows a heatmap of the English side’s progressions and the focus is on Lane 1 on the United left, where Rashford operated – and where 43% of their final-third entries came. The clip offers one such example with Rashford combining with full-back Sergio Reguilón. It was not just their left wing, though; a quarter of their progressions (25%) came down Lane 5 over on the right, where Facundo Pellistri played.

Different approaches

On the differences between the teams identified by UEFA's analysis unit, where Bayern penetrated above all with individual actions, these accounted for only 10% of United's final-third progressions. Instead, Erik ten Hag's team were more likely to look to open up space with short passes in front of Bayern's defensive shape – non-penetrative passes were the source of 43% of their progressions in the attacking third.

The two teams differed also in their supply lines into the attacking third: Bayern full-backs Konrad Laimer and Alphonso Davies contributed almost one-third (30%) of those balls whereas for United, 46% of their passes into the attacking third came from central midfielders.