Scorelines didn’t do justice to Bayern and Barca’s dominance against Arsenal and Man City, but these charts do
English clubs came off a resounding second best in the Champions League this week, even if the 2-0 defeats suffered by the 10 men of Arsenal and Manchester City barely did justice to the dominance of Bayern Munich and Barcelona.
But where the scoreline, and the shooting boots of Mario Mandzukic, failed, these passing network visualisations from Kickdex succeed.
Not only do they demonstrate the extent of Bayern and Barca’s superiority, they also reveal insights about exactly how Pep Guardiola’s current team and his former charges went about unpicking their Premier League opponents.
Arrows correspond to passes between players. The thicker the arrow, the more frequent the pass.
Man City 0-2 Barcelona
Barcelona’s dominance is reflected in the thickness of arrows between nearly all players, except the centre-backs and goalkeeper. The Catalans channeled many of their attacks down the flanks, with Jordi Alba and Dani Alves both heavily involved. Alves in particular received a lot of ball from Alexis Sanchez, often on the overlap, while Cesc Fabregas to Andres Iniesta on the left was the most frequent combination.
City’s most successful avenue was down their left, where Aleksandar Kolarov to Gael Clichy was their most fruitful link. David Silva was probably their most involved player.
Arsenal 0-2 Bayern Munich
Like City, Arsenal managed far fewer passes than their opponents. Both English teams also relied more heavily on direct passes from goalkeeper to centre-forward than Bayern or Barca.
But while Barca attacked down the flanks combining full-backs and wide men, Bayern’s pattern of play is markedly different.
Bayern’s passing is controlled by the central three – Javi Martinez, Thiago Alcantara and Toni Kroos – and Philip Lahm, who operates almost as a fourth midfielder. Lone striker Mandzukic is barely involved at all, but does allow the midfielders more space to create.