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Three Observations on Bayern’s gritty 2-1 win over Leverkusen

It was no gala performance, but Bayern got the job done and hold on to second place.

Bayern Muenchen v Bayer 04 Leverkusen - Bundesliga Photo by Marc Mueller/Bongarts/Getty Images

1. Javi Martinez playing with fire

After the game, you may have noticed that Javi Martinez looked completely exhausted and sullen, lethargically standing with his teammates to greet the Bayern Ultras. He had good reason to be in a bad mood: he put in a disastrous game, making mistakes and covering for them with extremely dangerous plays, and he knew it. On two separate occasions, he could - probably should - have been cited for a foul giving Leverkusen a penalty: one was a handball caught on replay that may have guided a shot by Kevin Volland into the side rather than the back of the net. The second was a late foul on Aleksandar Dragovic that the referee likewise let go. Mats Hummels fortunately compensated both on defense (five tackles!) and on offense today.

2. Strikers who do not strike

Bayern’s offensive woes continue, notwithstanding today’s scoreline. Robert Lewandowski played 90 minutes yet took a single shot. Thomas Müller played for 65 and likewise produced a single shot. The burden of attacking was shouldered instead primarily by Douglas Costa and Thiago (three shots each), with Mats Hummels scoring on a set piece (one of two shots). And even Thiago’s goal came off a ball shot first by Philipp Lahm playing likewise in the midfield. Neither substitutes Ribery and Robben managed a clean shot, while Vidal made one hopeful effort from long range. Leverkusen’s back four shouldn’t be able to shut down Bayern’s actual attacking players so effectively. Carlo Ancelotti expressed confidence in his system prior to the game, but until Bayern’s forwards - above all Thomas Müller - again pose a consistent, credible threat, I think doubts are warranted.

3. Joshua Kimmich just might really save us

Joshua Kimmich was arguably the best man on the pitch today for Bayern. If Carlo Ancelotti has indeed decided to move Philipp Lahm permanently to the midfield, then today’s high-leverage game shows that Kimmich is his choice at right-back, keeping Rafinha strictly (and rightly) as a second choice. Kimmich rewarded that confidence in him today with an outstanding performance, garnering an assist off a perfectly taken corner kick and taking two shots himself. He pushed deep into Leverkusen’s half while dropping back to secure Bayern’s right flank, compensating for yet another fairly anemic showing by Lahm. Right-back might suit Kimmich best of all, enabling him to utilize both his pace and defensive instincts and his play-making and offense.

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