Carlo Ancelotti knows what he’s doing
Ancelotti surprised and even alarmed many observers when he revealed that he intended to start American international Julian Green instead of Robert Lewandowski in this knock-out match against a legitimate Bundesliga side. But Ancelotti took his plans one step further, additionally resting key players Arjen Robben, Arturo Vidal, and Xabi Alonso. The gambit paid off perfectly: even against this side, Augsburg hardly had a chance, and now almost all of Bayern’s regulars have had to play just one match this week instead of two. With a secure lead, there was no need to bring in the big guns.
Long shots: not a good sign
Bayern’s offensive line today saw regular Thomas Müller paired with Kingsley Coman on the left flank and Green at striker. While Bayern sucked almost all life out of Augsburg in the midfield, the offense left a little to be desired. Despite Philipp Lahm’s surprise goal and Müller’s cross to Green late in the first half, Bayern’s offense seemed relatively uncoordinated and struggled to transition to attack in Augsburg’s final third. Instead of carefully orchestrated attacks, we witnessed an uncharacteristic barrage of shots taken from outside Augsburg’s penalty area. They seem indicative of Bayern’s collective frustration at converting possession into quality attacks. David Alaba’s goal in extra time was the only one that went in.
Defensive miscues mar a nice match
For all his experimenting with the offense, Ancelotti fielded what should have been a watertight defense, anchored by Boateng and Hummels. Both defenders had serious second-half lapses, however, in the few moments when Augsburg posed a remote threat in the match, and a penalty and a goal were the result. Hummels was the first sinner, conceding a penalty for fouling Gojko Kacar right in front of Bayern’s goal. While it was a tough call for Hummels, he ought to know better than to give an opposing player the opportunity to turn light contact into a penalty.
Boateng likewise found himself outmatched in very uncharacteristic fashion, as he faced off against Dong-Won Ji. Perhaps we should be talking rather of Ji’s moment of brilliance rather than Boateng’s mistake, but there is no denying that Boateng could not close down and dispossess Ji before the latter launched an amazing shot into the net. Fortunately for Bayern, that shot was nearly the total extent of Augsburg’s attacking efforts. Perhaps it’s better to work the kinks out now, against Augsburg, than against a more dangerous side.
Kingsley Coman looks lost
Of all Bayern’s players, none struggled as much as Kingsley Coman, who played the entire 90 minutes today on the left wing. Coman just could not get past Augsburg’s defense and seemed to have little chemistry with Sanches at midfield and Juan Bernat pressing forward from left-back. Coman registered neither a shot nor an assist: his meager haul today was a single key pass and a yellow card. It was a performance to forget. (Müller, meanwhile, opposite him, logged five shots, two assists, and seven key passes!) Has a lack of playing time hurt the Frenchman’s game? He looks like a shadow of the player who played such an important part in Bayern’s campaigns last season and, more recently, dazzled his countrymen at the Euros 2016.
Julian Green’s big day
Green’s big day – his first start of the season, and in no less than a knock-out cup match – completely turned around the moment his head connected with the ball to put Bayern ahead 2-0 late in the first half. Until that moment, he had made little impact on the game and would be largely invisible thereafter. This invisibility was by no means entirely his own fault. Bayern’s wingers consistently struggled to provide him with service in Augsburg’s penalty area. Although Green occasionally worked back toward the midfield to contribute defensively or in the buildup, he managed a paltry 31 touches – a team low, tying Manuel Neuer. He surely would and could have been more involved. Green capitalized, however, on the one golden chance he received, and that made all the difference.