In the early going, it looked like our spate of bold predictions might come true, as it was 2 minutes before FCN even touched the ball. And pretty much as soon as they touched it, they committed a stupid turnover and gave Bayern a chance to take the lead:
Looks like the FCN defenders relaxed when they saw that Mueller was in an offside position, not realizing that Kroos was still onside and in a dangerous space. Nice look to send that far cross along the box, too, with Mandzu pretty much needing to do nothing other than poke it in. At this point, it seemed like Bayern might have a chance to score another and out it into cruise control.
But FCN dug in and fought back. Their wide-set 4-1-4-1 operated as we imagined, with Bayern's middies able to win the ball but soon running into a wall around the center line. And without some of our normal dribbler-creators, it was left to Bastian (who didn't have a great match) and Tymoschuk (a tough tackler and hard worker, but not a creator) to try to find a way through.
Despite the difficulty you'd have to say Bayern was favored after taking a 1-0 lead into the halftime. Early in the second, though, a bit of poor timing between Kroos and Tymo led to a turnover, and FCN was able to capitalize as Bayern's defense was slow to close down on Feulner:
You'd love to see Neuer save that, but it was a pretty tough slice to the far side. The bigger problems were: (a) the turnover in a bad position, and (b) the failure to shut down Fuelner on the dribble and make him do something other than take a shot.
FCN's Timo Gebhart was deservedly shown his second yellow at about 76 minutes for a hard forearm shot to the face of Schweinsteiger. But that turned out to be a blow in disguise for Bayern, as FCN (previously willing to venture forward) set up a defensive fortress, and Bayern couldn't find a way through.
- Alaba had a few decent plays, but he still doesn't have his timing and touch all the way back. He had a chance to beat Chandler 1-on-1 and get a scoring opportunity, and completely blew it by accidentally touching the ball with the bottom of his boot on the attempted step-over. And later, Dante and Alaba mis-communicated on an attempted center-to-wing pass and let the ball fly out of bounds.
- We really miss Ribery and Robben, who are usually our go-to-guys when we need some offensive creativity. Shaqiri was the closest we had today (and he did threaten a few times), but it wasn't enough against an opponent that played pretty well.
- It's always easy to second guess, but I wish we'd get a little more aggressive or creative in making substitutions. All of our switches are pretty much like-for-like, even if the flow of the game isn't going our way. It would be interesting to see if we could generate something new by (for instance) bringing in 2 strikers, moving Kroos back into a CDM spot, and going to a 4-4-2. Or something other than just bringing in fresh legs.
Anyway, BVB and Eintracht Frankfurt both won, so Bayern's position will be a little more precarious, but we're still alone in first. Not a great way to start our tough 9-match run, though. We'll be back with more later, including a look at the Schalke match (getting started in a few minutes). Thanks for reading.