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Three lessons Bayern can learn from Real Madrid

Bayern Munich’s 1-0 Champions League defeat to Lazio in Rome last night is a sign that all is not well with the Bundesliga giants.

It is now consecutive defeats for Thomas Tuchel’s side following their 3-0 thumping at the hands of Bundesliga leaders Bayer Leverkusen.

They had one shot on target in both games – a stark contrast to the relentless Bayern of recent years. 

The Bavarians look dull, lacking the energy that powered them to ten consecutive league titles and two Champions League titles in that illustrious run.

This slump demands introspection. Enter Real Madrid, the La Liga powerhouse consistently competing at the highest level.

What can Bayern learn from their rivals? Let’s dissect three key lessons.

Reassessing Tuchel’s control

Management is a keyword for many people conversant with Tuchel’s football. The German loves to manage and control every phase of play, offensively and defensively. 

His style is based on solving the puzzle of each phase before moving into the next one, and while this style has brought him success, it can make players overthink their actions, leading to dour football.

Former Bayern boss Julian Nagelsmann even talked about how he had to stow away some tactical demands after a season with the Bundesliga side, realising that it was better if the players were allowed more freedom in their actions.

Tuchel and Bayern can learn from Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti. For those who don’t know, the Italian was once one of the more pragmatic managers in the business as evidenced by his time with Juventus and AC Milan.

However, Ancelotti has morphed into a more subtle influence over the years. He organises his team well and allows them to express themselves.

His teams don’t take up some of the typical tactical shapes of modern football during build-up play and when arriving in the final third. This is because he allows the players to find their own solutions.  

Watching Madrid against RB Leipzig on Tuesday, Ancelotti’s side expressed themselves on the ball without much care for controlling or possession for possession’s sake. 

Wingers Vinicius Jr and Brahim Diaz had the freedom to dribble and make risky decisions, but they executed it sharply.

Their combinations are not overly practised circuits drilled on the training pitch but innovative movements that the opposition couldn’t predict.

Tuchel must learn to tone it down and allow his players more freedom.

Bayern should learn how to win dirty

Despite the praise for Madrid’s freedom of expression on the pitch, Leipzig made matters awkward for them.

They pushed the La Liga side and pinned them to the wall. However, Los Blnacos have learnt to win by any means possible.

Despite most of their backline being sidelined with injuries, Madrid know how to grind out results. 

They have learned to absorb pressure and spring them into dangerous counter-attacks – something Bayern could use with their backline constantly exposed.

The lack of a defensive midfielder in the Bayern ranks means there is no specialist to screen the defence, allowing more attacks to arrive at their doorstep.

Bayern can learn from Madrid’s more conservative approach and ability to take a beating before dishing out bigger blows to their opponents.

Embracing depth and rotation 

A final lesson Die Rekordmeister can learn from Ancelotti and his troops is rotation. The Italian manager gives everyone a chance, keeping the squad happy and refreshed.

When Madrid signed Joselu last summer, many fans turned their nose up at him as he wasn’t the Galactico striker signing they had expected to replace Karim Benzema.

Ancelotti did not complain. He used Rodrygo Goes as his striker but has also given Joselu game time. 

The opposite is the case at Bayern, with exciting youngster Mathys Tel sidelined. With Kingsley Coman sustaining a long-term injury, Tuchel needs to trust Tel and new signing Bryan Zaragoza.

Learning from Madrid’s effective rotation policy would give Bayern much-needed breathing space and freshness and ensure peak performance across all competitions.

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