Barcelona need to beat Bayern Munich, if they don’t want to depend on good fortune elsewhere. It’s not easy. Bayern have had an immaculate group phase of the Champions League. They dominated Barcelona at Camp Nou. However, in Germany, three teams have shown Barcelona the way. Eintracht Frankfurt, Borussia Monchengladbach and Augsburg have all beaten the powerful Bavarians. The former did so with goals from Martin Hinteregger and Filip Kostic. They lined up 3-4-3, the same system Xavi has used against Benfica and Villarreal.
Bayern lost against Gladbach in the German Cup too. They already drew 1-1 with them in the league then were spanked 5-0 in the knock-out competition. Manu Kone and Ramy Bensebaini twice netted with Breel Embolo also scoring a brace to round off the rout. Again coach Adi Hutter picked 3-4-3. This coach has long been a problem for Bayern. He also saw his Eintracht Frankfurt side get a 5-1 win two seasons ago, and a 2-1 win last season.
Augsburg won 2-0 on November 19, in a Bavarian derby. Mads Pedersen and Andre Hahn surprised Nagelsmann’s side with two goals in the first half. Markus Weinzierl lined up with a 4-4-2. He, Hutter and Frankfurt’s Glasner all have some similarities in how they play.
They put Bayern under high and intense pressure, forcing Bayern to look for longer balls and take the brain of the play, Joshua Kimmich, out of the game. They also transitioned at rapid speed, quickly arriving in Neuer’s box with numerical superiority. Bayern’s defence doesn’t play out from the back that well under pressure.
Although Eintracht turned things around at the Allianz, one of the keys is to go ahead. That’s what Gladbach and Augsburg did. That forces Bayern to expose themselves further, to long balls especially. Of course, Barcelona don’t really have a player who can play that way, like Embolo at Gladbach.
Even if it seems like suicide, the way to beat Bayern is to play without fear. Threatening them whenever you can. Luck plays a part too. Of course Bayern will create chances and you need the fortune of them missing.
The approaches of the teams that beat Bayern are not too different from Barcelona’s DNA. Pressure and direct transitions were key to Frank Rijkaard and Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona. Xavi’s men just need to find that intensity and concentration that has been missing in many moments this season.