Goal Kick Tactics

No, goal kick tactics are not as complicated or complex as real tactics are. In fact, I’m not even sure if I should talk about tactics here since what I’m about to show you is such a minor thing that every casual fan can notice and understand it. However, I haven’t seen any article about this so let me try to elaborate the difference between the Bayern goal kicks from the first season matches and the current ones.

Old Goal Kick System - CBs directly in front of the box, opposing players make a short pass impossible

Bayern’s old goal kick ‘system’ was nothing special. The two center backs were positioned directly in front of the box. Most teams do this but the problem is a specific one for Louis van Gaal’s team: they’re always looking for possession so they prefer a short pass to a center back instead of a long ball. Of course other coaches know about that as well. To force Thomas Kraft (or, earlier, Jörg Butt) to play the unwanted long ball and risk losing possession immediately, they tell their attacking players to put Bayern’s center backs under pressure everytime there’s a goal kick. This was brilliantly analyzed by Zonal Marking after the home loss against Mainz back in September.

If this is confusing you (I probably would be, too), take a look at this screenshot from the aforementioned match:

Jörg Butt can't pass the ball to a center back without risking to lose possession and allow a scoring chance for Mainz. Screenshot: Zonal Marking

The solution for this problem was simple:

The center backs move to the wings to avoid the pressure of the opponents. Furthermore, one midfielder moves back to receive the ball in case the opposing players decide to follow the CBs.

As you can see, each center back moves to a wing. Now, the goalkeeper can easily pass the ball to one of them without taking a huge risk. If the opponents follow the defenders, a central midfielder (now in a defensive midfield position) is unmarked and Bayern can keep possession.

Let me provide you with another screenshot, this time from the latest match in Cologne (Bayern in white). Sorry for the quality, you’ll have to guess what happened there but that shouldn’t be a problem.

The center backs (only one visible here) slowly move back from the wing to their position after Thomas Kraft played a long ball. Also notice the midfielder near the two Köln players.

The opposing players (Podolski and Novakovic, I guess) decided not to follow Tymoshchuk and Badstuber. Kraft could’ve easily passed the ball to either defender. If the guys in red followed them, Andreas Ottl would be unmarked.

Granted, long balls are more frequent, but this still was a minor fix that solved a problem Bayern struggled to deal with for quite some time. I’m wondering how long it’s gonna take until an opponent uses a third man who lets the other two follow the CBs and puts the midfielder under pressure. And it’s gonna be even more interesting to watch how van Gaal reacts. Would he tell the other central midfielder to drop back as well or would he find a different, not so obvious solution? Hopefully time will tell, I’ll be there to let you know.


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