How did Bayern score against Mainz?
No need for an intro here, the title says it all. Let’s have a look at Bayern’s three goals scored on Saturday and also what exactly caused the penalty that gave Mainz hope. Fasten your seatbelts, we’re about to drop the bass like Rick Clunn never would.
I didn’t count the seconds, I’m sure someone did, but Uli Hoeneß hadn’t even finished his first ice cream when Mario Mandzukic scored. Here’s how it started.
Philipp Lahm has the ball with an opponent marking him relatively well (yellow circle). As the red lines show you, every potential recipient of the cross would have to deal with a direct opponent. Not a bad situation for Mainz, outnumbering Bayern in the box. The better (and more “Bayern-like”) solution would’ve been what the green lines show you, bringing the ball to the other wing, forcing Mainz to readjust with two simple passes. Instead, Lahm decides to give the cross a try, with limited success as it’s blocked. However…
Lahm is the one in control of the ball after the block and plays a quick, unexpected pass to the goalline (yellow line). Call it brilliance or not, Thomas Müller anticipates this better than the opponent (red circle) and manages to grab the ball in a good position right at the edge of the box. Near the penalty spot, Mario Mandzukic still has to deal with two opponents but has the short advantage of being positioned closer to the goal than one of those (green circle), practically eliminating this defender from the situation for a few seconds. Enough for Müller and Mandzukic.
Müller plays the quick pass inside. Now the situation is obvious: either the ball is stopped at the yellow line (by the keeper or the only relevant defender) and Bayern get a corner kick at best; or the ball is too fast for those, giving Mario Mandzukic a big chance to score early. As long as it enters the red zone, it’s pretty much a sure goal. If Müller waits a second or two before passing, the second defender (actually connected with Mandzukic by the yellow line, not its purpose but I’ll take it) can position himself in front of the Bayern striker, making a shot a lot more unlikely. Mario scores, he’s on fire.
About 10 minutes later, Uli Hoeneß just threatened to punch Arjen Robben if he tries to steal a bucket of ice cream for the hungry Luka, Bastian Schweinsteiger scored. Again. With a header. Again. If Louis van Gaal is reading this: sir, grab a towel, your seat might get wet soon.
Badstuber, Shaqiri and Gustavo (I think) form the famous van Gaal-triangle. Mainz are outnumbered on the left flank and nobody decides to do anything against that. Quite the opposite actually…
Some rotating, some passes. Xherdan Shaqiri moved inside, marked well by an opponent (yellow line) but still managing to pass the ball to Toni Kroos. Kroos, already having a defender right behind him, notices that a second defender moves towards him (green arrow), leaving the wing completely deserted. The entire red area and more is Bayern territory at this moment, with Badstuber and Gustavo both ready for a cross.
Badstuber gets it, Badstuber delivers it. The problem (from Mainz’ point of view): two defenders in good positions (yellow circles) don’t really move. instead of creating a white majority (this might be the only chance in my life to say that without sounding racist), they stand around and let the others do what they want. Shaqiri already is in a decent position and doesn’t have to move more, Bastian Schweinsteiger runs (green arrow) to the unmarked (red) area. That’s where Badstuber’s cross arrives and, fortunately, Shaqiri misses it, giving Schweinsteiger the chance to use his speed for a better header. 2-0. Boomshakalaka.
Half time, Bayern leading by two, when Toni Kroos makes the biggest mistake of the match so far.
Instead of moving or paying attention to the ball, he does some stuff with his shoe. This can clearly wait until you’re in the locker room, Toni. Manuel Neuer punishes this bad behavior with a perfectly placed pass as the green line indicates, taking advantage of Kroos facing the other direction (yellow dotted line). Dammit, Toni!
Second half, Bayern started to become a bit shakier. Mainz with more aggression and suddenly a few decent attacks. So, after a while, this almost had to happen.
Mainz with the ball inside the box, a result of a problem Bayern had again and again: stopping the opponent in the center of the pitch. Wing play wasn’t really dangerous but they were outnumbered in the middle way too often. This is the best example. Four Bayern defenders against six Mainz attackers. Four against four in direct battles, two guys in white shirts unmarked with the chance for easy movement inside the box (yellow line).
Some danger was inevitable at that point. Still, Dante made a stupid mistake here. Instead of stopping earlier (yellow line) to block a potential shot or pass to the unmarked player, he tries to clear the ball with a risky challenge. Another Bayern player (Gustavo?) would’ve been there to double the Mainz player in possession, as the red arrow shows.
Last minute, Martinez and Pizarro on the pitch now and both are key compenents of the third Bayern goal that sealed the deal.
Martinez with the ball against two opponents (yellow circle) plays a short but very important pass (yellow line) to Claudio Pizarro who makes a step towards the ball (red arrow). The green arrow shows Schweinsteiger’s movement. While he won’t touch the ball, he provides important width and a second option.
Schweinsteiger (yellow arrow) and Martinez (green arrow) never stop running, Pizarro plays the quick pass (red line) to give the two aforementioned players a chance to exploit the completely deserted red zone. Classic counter-attack situation against an attacking opponent.
Martinez gets the ball and decides to play a smart cross. Instead of going with the obvious choice in the middle (Müller, I think), he plays a long cross to Toni Kroos. Since both Mainz defenders expected the shorter option and only focused on Müller until it’s too late (yellow lines), Kroos has the red area available to receive the pass. That he decides to shoot directly and actually scores is a great individual moment that only outlines the very fine performance by #39.
As you can see, this weekend the goals were mostly results of very smart movement and highly accurate passes. The same will be needed on Wednesday against Valencia. Bring it on.