One of the alterations Pep Guardiola engineered on Bayern Munich is their intense pressing. The pressing tactic worked wonders for him at Barcelona and it is understandable that he wants to implement that at Bayern. Pressing teams high up the pitch not only gives you chance to dispossess your opponents in dangerous areas but it also disrupts the rhythm of the teams such as Arsenal that want to play out from the back and work their way through the midfield.
However the use of the football after winning it differs with teams. Dortmund press aggressively than Bayern but they don’t monopolize the possession once they win it back. Their game is based on speed, precision and within 4 – 5 passes they find themselves in the opposition penalty box. Bayern and Barcelona lets say are more obsessed with the ball, they build from the back and pass the opposition to death until they capitulate.
Against Arsenal, the Bavarians employed this tactic to full effect and it was telling in the pass completion statistics by Arsenal. Arsenal found it extremely difficult to evade Bayern’s pressing and were constantly on the back foot. Mikel Arteta was hassled whenever he received the ball and stopped him from dictating the game. The Gunners suffered as a result and couldn’t really get their attacking game going.
The downside of this pressing is when teams successfully evade the first press they will be directly up against their defence and teams can exploit this vulnerability. Arsenal evade the pressing by passing the ball quickly and constantly create triangles by overloading the midfield and outnumbering the opposition. This was evident in the recent game vs Everton when Arsenal fudged the Toffees pressing by intelligent movement and clever interplay.
In the first leg against Munich, Arsenal didn’t allow Bayern to press them as they themselves pressed them and didn’t need to defend so deep as they had to in the return leg. This helped Arsenal as they squeezed Bayern and they repeatedly exposed Bayern’s backline. The offside ploy also worked well as the Bayern players were repeatedly caught offside in that opening quarter. In the second leg Arsenal had to defend first as a Bayern goal would all but finish the tie.
Arsenal were caught up in two minds and whenever they were in good attacking positions, the final ball let them down. They actually got there in first place by evading the first press and squeezing Bayern. Despite Podolski equalizing a minute after Schweinsteiger opened the account it was too little too late as Bayern held on. How we regret that second goal at the Emirates.