The round of eight in the Champions League started differently than most anticipated in the match between Bayern Munich and Manchester United. When the first leg ended in a 1-1 draw, the narrative became that Manchester United gave themselves a chance. The result gives the English side hope as they prepare to travel to the Allainz Arena next week. In the end, it will be two simple adjustments by Pep Guardiola that moves Bayern through to the next round.
The first is a different lineup selection to exploit the weaknesses of Manchester United. Their back line needs to be run at from all angles. The movement in the first leg was good for Bayern but it did not open up holes or shooting lanes. With Bastian Schweinsteiger and Javi Martinez banned from the second leg it will make the selection easier. Guardiola should go with this lineup:
- Rafinha - Dante - Boateng - Alaba
- Kroos – Götze
- Robben – Mandzukic – Ribery
This lineup would present problems for an aging back line as Arjen Robben, Franck Ribery, Rafinha and David Alaba were able to find pockets of space on the outside in round one. It was not until Mario Mandzukic entered the match that Bayern scored. The space and running on the outside needs a target man in the middle, especially against Manchester United.
This leads to the next adjustment that must be made and that is to go after goals. Possession has long been a strength of Guardiola coached teams, but Bayern need to turn that into more chances. David De Gea was not called into action enough in the Manchester United goal. Pep needs to turn his creative players loose and potentially allow an outside shot here or there. They need to threaten their opponent and stomp on the gas early. The lineup above could create havoc and Guardiola should trust them to fulfill their defensive tasks.
Bayern will be at home in the second leg and should be able to use the home crowd to fuel them to victory. They may have to withstand an initial surge from Manchester United, but a lineup change and a tactical change should ensure victory. The mindset of this Bayern team will be seen when the team sheet is released next week.