Retro Analysis: UEFA Champions League Final Bayern 1: Chelsea 1 (3 – 4 a.e.t.) 

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Chelsea is the surprise winner over Jupp Heynckes’ Bayern Munich in the 2012 UEFA Champions League. Chelsea’s manager, Roberto Di Matteo was put in charge of Chelsea after Andres Villa-Boas was relieved of his duties by Roman Abramovich due to a poor run of matches and unrest in the dressing room.

Di Matteo sent Chelsea out with a game-plan to contain Bayern and, for the most part, the policy worked as Jupp Heynckes’ side sought to pick holes in a resolute defense.

Chelsea and Bayern Lineups   

Chelsea lined up in a 1-4-2-3-1 Petr Cech in goal; Ashley Cole at left-back, David Luiz and Gary Cahill, Jose Bosingwa; pivots Frank Lampard and Jon Obi-Mikel; Ryan Bertrand, Juan Mata in the 10 roles, Salomon Kalou; and Didier Drogba as the lone striker.

Jupp Heynekes’ Bavarian side lined up in his signature –1-4-2-3-1 sweeper keeper Manual Neuer, Phillip Lahm (captain), Jerome Boateng, Anatoliy Tymoschuk,  Diego Contento, pivots Bastien Schweinsteiger and Toni Kroos, attacking trio of Arjen Robben, Thomas Muller, and Franck Ribery; Mario Gomez the lone striker.

Chelsea Out of Possession

The London club took a conservative approach to the match, meaning they understood that Bayern is dangerous on the counter, so they applied minimal pressure on the ball.  This approach saw Bayern with lots of possession throughout the match. Schweinsteiger and Kroos combined for 223 touches compared to Lampard and Obi-Mikel (183). Further Bayern’s 44 shots (7 on target) compared to Chelsea’s 10 (3 on target), respectively show the Bayern’s attack was relentless. This went according to Chelsea’s conservative approach was effective because they were able to maintain their compact shape and stay relatively close to Robben, Ribery, and Schweinsteiger.

Bayern’s Attack from wide spaces 

Ribery and Robben were given license to attack the left and right wide spaces. Midway through the first half, Robben wriggled into space inside the box, but the former Chelsea winger was denied by a smart reaction stop from Cech, who diverted the ball onto the post. Fullbacks Lahm and Contento provided defensive cover while Kroos and Schweinsteiger protected the central and half spaces.  Schweinsteiger, in particular, was a critical component of Bayern’s distribution and halting opponents counter-attacks.

Chelsea’s struggles 

As Chelsea’s lone striker Drogba was expected to do more than just score goals, creating chances for his teammates. In addition to those duties, he pressured Boateng and Lahm. Nothing really went right for Chelsea in an attacking sense, though – they struggled to generate counters, Drogba found himself overloaded when he pressed Philipp Lahm to try and use his aerial advantage, the delivery from the right was poor.

Chelsea also failed to win a corner until the final moments, so set-pieces wasn’t a productive source of chances, while long balls from Petr Cech generally found Tymoshchuk nipping in front of Drogba and Jerome Boateng covering behind him.

The game didn’t really progress in tactical terms – the only substitution before Bayern’s goal was Malouda replacing Ryan Bertrand

Goals: Muller and Drogba 

Muller increasingly became pivotal for Bayern because he was popping up at the far post, against Cole. Muller had five attempts from a similar position, and also got John Obi Mikel booked for a rash tackle towards Chelsea’s left-back zone. Muller was the key player in tactical terms and would have been a fitting man of the match.

After Bayern went 1-0 up. Di Matteo took a gamble by substituting – Torres on for Kalou, and Chelsea was desperate and in danger of conceding a second  goal but Drogba came through with a fantastic header

Heynckes had responded to Chelsea’s change by introducing an extra defender – Daniel van Buyten came on to provide a more aerial presence at the back, with Muller departing. Like Chelsea’s change, it was simply another man to help in the required zone for five minutes.

Conclusion

Even though Bayern lost the match they were tactically superior.  The game and tactical intelligence of Schweinsteiger and Kroos meant they could continue to control the match and create chances. While the Raumdeuter, (Muller) movement created all sorts of problems for Chelsea for which they had no answer.

The Author

Football mad and obsessed depending on the day of the week. All jokes aside I am a husband, father, criminal justice researcher, and novice football analyst.

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