Hans-Dieter Flick took over Bayern 10 games into the season. Since replacing Nico Kovač, he has improver Bayern Munich significantly with Bleacher Report’s Sam Tighe ranking them as the best team in Europe. Flick is a former Bayern player and was Joachim Löw’s assistant for Germany for eight years and was integral to their 2014 World Cup triumph. Flick was also the sporting director for the German FA however, this is his first head coach role since Hoffenheim in 2005 when they weren’t even in Germany’s second division.
Despite the lack of managerial experience, the impact he has had is evident in the base line numbers. In Flick’s first 16 matches, they averaged 2.5 points per game, 0.7 more than Kovač’s last 10 games in charge. He has done this by improving the attack from 2.4xG per game to 3.03 and organising the defence as xG against has fallen from 1.39 to 1.05. But how has he done it?
The main change has been Bayern’s pressing, it has become more organised and in turn more successful. This is really highlighted in the opposition’s passes per defensive action falling from 11.5 to 8.5 along with the opposition’s pressed passing sequences rising from 13.7 to 20.
Bayern tend to line up in 4-2-3-1 with Robert Lewandowski spearheading the attack. However, without the ball, it moves to a 4-1-4-1 with Kimmich anchoring the midfield so his midfield partner and the number 10 can align ahead of him. This allows Lewandowski to press the centre backs and the wingers to push up and press if the ball moves wide.
They can also press the wide spaces effectively. One way this is done is by a fullback pressing high while a winger and midfielder push across to cut passing lanes infield with Kimmich covering the fullback if the makeshift back three can’t cover.
The fullbacks have become vital to not only Bayern’s defence but also their attack. The Bavarians will move the ball to one side, often the right, to cause an overload so the opposition shuffle over to cover. Munich will then quickly move the ball to the opposite flank where there is plenty of space to attack. This really allows Davies to use his pace, dribbling and passing to create chances.
David Alaba’s move to centre back has been pivotal to Flick’s system. He has been given the freedom to push forward and unleash the attackers with pinpoint passes or even stay back and hit long balls into wide areas for the wingers or Davies. Along with Thiago in midfield, Bayern effectively have two deep play makers who can also progress the ball through dribbling.
Hansi Flick has also got Thomas Müller back on top form. The World Cup winner is top in the Bayern squad for xG sequence start on 5.78, 0.99 higher than next best Joshua Kimmich. Müller is also top for chances created. This is down to the German’s role, his job is to find spaces in between the lines. This allows him to pick up the ball from a deeper player and instantly feed it into a more dangerous forward player. He isn’t a strong dribbler but his ability to find space and link play has seen him become one of the first names on the team sheet.
Hansi-Dieter Flick has taken Bayern’s strengths under Kovač and added to them. He’s made them more effective in pressing and improved their positional play. They have gone from a faltering side to one of the favourites for the Champions League in a matter of months. The only question left is, can they go all the way?