Bayern Munich will arguably face the biggest challenge of their season when they take on FC Barcelona in the quarter-final of the UEFA Champions League on Friday. The Bavarians are coming on the back of a morale-boosting 7-1 aggregate win over Chelsea in the last round, but the Catalans could be a much tougher nut to crack. In this article, we will discuss five things Bayern must do to beat Barcelona tomorrow.
A deep defensive line
As mentioned in one of our earlier pieces, replicating a high line of press against Barcelona could turn out to be a risky decision for Hansi Flick. The Spanish giants have a bunch of attacking superstars who are more than capable of deceiving the defenders with their well-timed runs and brilliant vision. And with Jerome Boateng lacking pace, it could spell trouble for the Bundesliga champions.
A deep defensive line makes much more sense, with the defensive duo of David Alaba and Boateng looking to contain pressure exerted by the Barcelona attack. It will be interesting to see whether or not Lionel Messi can outfox Boateng and Manuel Neuer this time around.
A left-sided overhaul
Joshua Kimmich must operate in a deeper role in this game given the fact that Bayern Munich will have to deal with at least three Barcelona attackers on Friday. His tackling, tenacious and aggression, therefore, could be useful during the defensive phases.
On the opposite flank, however, Flick should utilise the pace and attacking prowess of Alphonso Davies. In fact, employing a left-sided overhaul could be a good idea given Barcelona’s well-documented weaknesses on the right flank. However, it would also require a great deal of work-ethic from not only Davies but also Serge Gnabry.
Conservative midfield pressing
Bayern Munich simply cannot afford to manically press the opposing ball-carriers as they did against Chelsea. They do not have Kimmich mopping things up with his positional sense in midfield. Also, Thiago is much more attack-oriented than all his other teammates, meaning a conservative approach in terms of midfield pressing should make sense.
Leon Goretzka, in particular, could play a key role in offering the necessary support to Thiago in the middle of the park.
Use long balls
One of Barcelona’s main weaknesses is their ageing squad. Especially in the backline, they primarily rely on the services of veterans like Gerard Pique and Jordi Alba. This is prominent even in midfield.
So essentially, Barcelona are slower when compared to other supergiants in European football. That is where Bayern could seek to take advantage – by using their technically gifted centre-backs in Boateng and Alaba. Both of them are capable of providing diagonal balls that are often hard to intercept, and with pacy players like Gnabry and Davies lurking in and around the final third, Bayern must make full use of long balls.
In tougher games like these, it is often essential for a team to dominate in physical and aerial battles. There is no exception for Bayern Munich either.
The Bavarians could particularly use the set-pieces to good effect as they have some of the most gifted athletes in Robert Lewandowski, Boateng and Goretzka. In fact, scoring from set-piece should remain one of the main priorities for the German giants this week as they take on Barcelona.
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