clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Five observations in Bayern Munich's quarterfinal victory over Bochum

Arjen Robben took a big step toward a return to form, and corner kicks seemed pointless with the way Bayern Munich approached them.

Lars Baron/Getty Images
1. Robben is almost back

Arjen Robben is not quite the old Robben we know and love, and Bochum know and hate, but he is close. Robben looked sluggish in the first half, struggling to beat Bochum's aggressive defenders. The most he could muster was a shot from distance that flew straight into the keeper's hands. Things turned around when Jan Simunek brought him down he was while cutting inside the penalty area, giving Bayern a penalty. Robben looked his worst when he missed a wide-open goal off a great cross from Douglas Costa, but he redeemed himself with several dangerous crosses later in the game and finally with an assist to Robert Lewandowski late in the game. Robben played the entire 90 minutes today and can only improve.

2. Bayern's defense is good enough, for now

Holger Badstuber is the rock on which Bayern's entire defense currently rests, but besides him, Bayern's defense collectively looked shaky early in the game. Bochum's Simon Terodde had a clear shot on goal early on, but fortunately for Bayern he shot wide (8'). Badstuber prevented a second dangerous Terodde chance with a brilliant tackle, but his angry shouting at Joshua Kimmich afterward was more prevalent. Badstuber is clearly the man in charge, though Alonso also made some key clearances, dropping back to play effectively as a right center-back on defense. While Kimmich struggled at right-back against Bochum's aggressive forwards prior to their going down to ten men, he made no devastating mistakes. Badstuber got some welcome rest when he was replaced by Vidal with ten minutes to play - leaving no true center backs on the pitch for Bayern. Bochum may have played far above their status as a second-league team, but their ability to threaten Bayern's goal is worrying. Bayern's back line must improve.

3. How many corners can Bayern squander in creative ways?

Bayern is terrible at corner kicks. Sometimes, it really seems as if the team has just given up on them entirely. Bayern won multiple corner kicks due to the efforts of Arjen Robben and Douglas Costa, but again and again they did absolutely nothing with them. Is this a case where Guardiola's insistence on control goes too far? Rather than lob the ball into the box, Robben on the right or Costa on the left instead frequently take short corners, passing to Thiago or Philipp Lahm. When they find no one open, they pass the ball back, and Bayern's attack starts over as if the corner kick had never happened. Even when Bayern takes standard corners, the kickers seem incapable of finding the heads of Lewandowski, Müller, Badstuber, or anyone for that matter. This particular set-piece shouldn't be so hard for a team of Bayern's quality. There are people on the team taller than Costa and Lahm.

4. Coping with aggressive pressing

Bayern still is not responding well to aggressive, high-pressing teams. Bochum deserved far better than a 0-3 loss; they completely frustrated Bayern's attack in the first half, playing like Leverkusen - but without the fouls and rough play of the last match. Alaba, Costa and Thiago Alcantara on the left, and Lahm and Robben on the right could get virtually nothing started, and Müller and Lewandowski were barely in the match before a lucky break sent the ball their way in the penalty area. Their give-and-go goal changed the direction of the game, but if Lewandowski's goal had bounced the other way off the post, Bayern would have had to go back to the drawing board. Bayern seemed unable to cope with the pace of play for long stretches of the first half.

5. Thiago on the ball

Thiago put in an outstanding performance. He was instrumental in Bayern's first goal and, obviously, in his own. It was Thiago's brilliant tackle high up the right side of the pitch that gave Lewandowski the space to combine with Müller in Bayern's first goal. His movement in the penalty area is what allowed Müller to pick him out for Bayern's second goal, splitting the defenders and beating his man before his strong finish. His involvement in two goals somewhat offsets his frustration in the midfield earlier in the game. His awareness on the pitch and chemistry with his teammates made a tremendous difference.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the Bavarian Football Works Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of Bayern Munich news from Bavarian Football Works