Villarreal 0-2 Bayern: Garrido goes 4-3-1-2 and Villarreal never get going

September 14, 2011

The starting line-ups

A simple win for Bayern in Spain, with a goal in each half and a good defensive display.

Juan Carlos Garrido was without Borja Valero, and he surprisingly chose to leave both Cani and Javier Camuñas on the bench, instead using Jonathan de Guzman behind the front two.

Jupp Heynckes went for Bayern’s usual 4-2-3-1. He introduced Daniel van Buyten to the backline, but the Belgian had to go off injured midway through the first half – so Rafinha came on, Jerome Boateng went into the centre, and Bayern returned to the back four that played in the 7-0 win over Freiburg. Anatoliy Tymoschuk came in for Luiz Gustavo in the centre of midfield.

Villarreal’s start to the season has been dodgy, but even Bayern must have been surprised at how easy their task was. The away side had a host of chances, mainly falling to Toni Kroos and Nils Petersen (who came on for Mario Gomez). Villarreal had unusually little possession and created few chances.

Formation match-up

4-3-1-2 against 4-2-3-1, then, except the 4-3-1-2 didn’t manage to dominate possession, the clear area of advantage in this match-up (by virtue of the numbers game in the centre of midfield). How did Bayern keep the ball so well? First, their full-backs were often free, and second, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Tymoschuk worked hard to make themselves available in the middle of the pitch.

Villarreal did try and close the full-backs down by moving Giuseppe Rossi and Nilmar wide onto them, but Bayern were still able to retain possession because Villarreal sat deep, didn’t press, and usually the holding midfielders and centre-backs were in space. Rossi and Nilmar moving wide did stop the Bayern full-backs moving forward, however, so Villarreal weren’t as prone to the 2 v 1s down the flank as Roma when they went 4-3-1-2 against Bayern last year.


One must question Garrido’s choice of formation. First, it offered the full-backs no protection from Bayern’s wingers. If Garrido had done his homework, he would have known that Bayern work their left-hand side a lot this season (in the Bundesliga so far, 42% of their passes are played down that side, compared to 29% each through the centre and down the right), and Mario Gaspar was always likely to be facing a tough task against Franck Ribery.

Maybe that’s why he chose to play Carlos Marchena to the right, but he wasn’t mobile enough to get out and help Mario. Ribery was excellent, and created a goal for Kroos within the first ten minutes after skipping past Mario and cutting the ball back.

No link

The bigger problem was that Villarreal had no link to the front two. De Guzman was making his first start for Villarreal – it seems strange to introduce him in such an important game, especially with Cani sitting on the bench. It seemed obvious from a very early stage that Villarreal were going to struggle to create chances, and whilst it would have been an absurdly early change, it wouldn’t have been unreasonable for Garrido to bring on Cani as soon as Villarreal went behind. Three holding midfielders wasn’t the order of the day when 1-0 down.

Villarreal even resorted to launching balls forward for Rossi and Nilmar to challenge for in the air, a ludicrous approach, although Rossi had one good chance when he got in behind van Buyten with his pace. Bayern were probably helped by van Buyten’s injury, as Boateng is much quicker and more able to deal with Rossi’s sprints.


Cani replaced Marcos Senna at half time but Villarreal’s shape barely seemed to change – it took until the 72nd minute for Camuñas to replace De Guzman and Villarreal to go to their 4-4-2 / 4-2-2-2. By that stage, Nilmar had been replaced by Marco Ruben, a sign that Villarreal were going more direct anyway. It all seemed confused, and Villarreal never looked like getting back into the game.

Bayern actually enjoyed more possession in the second half, and their display was a great example of how to hold onto the lead – they didn’t sit back, instead they held onto the ball, used it intelligently, and eventually broke and got a second, through Rafinha. Heynckes didn’t have to alter anything, though – it was a routine win.


A disappointingly tame match.  Garrido’s formation didn’t suit his side – it left his full-backs vulnerable, made his side’s passing too predictable, and asked far too much of the debutant the side was built around. Rossi and Nilmar combined well when they got the ball, but that was very rare.

Bayern kept the ball well and created lots of chances. In terms of specific tactics, the fact that the full-backs rarely went forward meant Rossi and Nilmar weren’t able to find space on the flanks, and the major battles took place elsewhere.

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