Bayern Munich Pressing

By Stevie Grieve

Bayern Munich seem to have changed to a new 3-4-2-1 type of formation this season, possibly to combat teams playing a low 4-2-3-1 or 4-5-1, overloading midfield with 6 players while having 3 players in deep positions to circulate possession from a deep position with penetration to 2 central players behind the opposition midfield, who can both drift wide in Muller and Robben.

In the game against Wolfsburg, Bayern pressed relatively well, directing play to one side and forcing Wolfsburg into predictable longer passes as the short range passing lanes were covered, while dealing with longer passes before they happen.

Blocking passing lanes with the immediate pressure


As the ball is transferred wide from kick off, Bayern immediately try to close every short passing lane and force a long ball or a diagonal backwards pass which could be intercepted.


As Bernat closes in, he blocks the easy pass down the line, and tracks the dribble inside. As the dribble inside is made, only 1 pass lane is open, which Lewandowski and Muller would be ready to pounce on any passes into here. The RB plays safe and goes long.

Containing a zone behind the pressure


Bayern look to direct play to one area, where the play can be covered and overloaded. Behind the pressure, on the side away from the directing, they have 4 players arcing around the pressing zone.

Each player covering has their body shape angled to ensure they can press quickly if the ball breaks out of the pressing zone.

Lahm covers the predictable pass


Lahm can see where the pass will be played and drops off early to cover the pass.

 Containing Play in 1 zone


Here, Bayern contain play in one zone, less than ¼ of the field with 6 players in a 3-1-4-2 block. All 1st and 2nd line passing options are covered man-man, while Muller and Robben’s body shape control the space around the marking zone.

Containing play in one ‘corridor’


Traditionally a lot of coaches would be heard saying ‘defend in 2 corridors’ while Bayern here are trying to contain and keep the ball in 1 corridor, minimizing the amount of ‘exits’ available.

Robben and Muller press from wider areas, closing down the central space, offering one passing lane which has 2 players around it to play 2v1 on the side.

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Robben regains possession in the 3v1 as all exits are closed and the ball isn't released


With all exits blocked, the player tries to turn back on his right side. As this happens, Robben presses from the blindside; winning the ball and starts a counter attack, leading to a goal within 8 seconds.

By Stevie Grieve. (Follow on Twitter @steviegrieve)  Stevie is also the author Coaching the 4-2-3-1Coaching the 4-2-3-1 Advanced Tactics and From Futsal to Soccer

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