Too many workers, not enough artists
In a desire to rest as many key players as possible, Pep rotated heavily, leaving only three players in the starting lineup from Wednesday's Champions League clash with Atletico. In came seldom-used Sebastian Rode, Serdar Tasci, and Joshua Kimmich, all players known more for their defensive prowess than their ballskills, which put almost the entire burden of being creative on Mario Götze, who was playing behind the single forward Thomas Müller. Though Mario did an admirable job with what he had to work with, laying down some impressive dribbles through blocks of defenders, it constituted too little creativity across the whole lineup, especially for a team like Bayern.
That explains in large part why Bayern had so much trouble creating scoring chances, with their only goal coming off a corner, and not from open play.
Too many soldiers, not enough generals
This rotation also showed in another aspect of Bayern's game: nobody seemed to want to take charge. Players like Rode and Kimmich would shuffle the ball across in the midfield, rather than push the ball forward, or take a chance, even when an opening for a shot presented itself. Maybe they're too used to deferring to the bigger personalities, and didn't flip the mental switch that they needed to pick up more responsibility, but a Philipp Lahm, Xabi Alonso or Arturo Vidal boot on the ball (and up their butts) was missing today.
Pep experiments with three Center Backs, results inconclusive
Along with giving some rare playing time to Tasci (who looked alright), and giving Medhi Benatia some much-needed time on the ball after lengthy injury absences, Bayern fans were elated to see the boss of the defense, Jerome Boateng, get his long-awaited debut after a three-month layoff. The result was a five-man defense, with the three centerbacks flanked by Rafinha on the right and Juan Bernat on the left. But, as we are used to from the Catalan coach, that really meant that Bayern were playing with three in the back, with Boateng taking up the middle, while Benatia moved to cover the right side, and Tasci manned the left. Rafinha and Bernat moved up the wings to support the offense.
Results: All three CBs looked decent (especially Benatia), considering the lack of recent playing time, but looked vulnerable on through balls, one of which resulted in Andre Hahn's tying goal.
Jerome Boateng was dialing in his long ball passes, ready for Tuesday?
The aforementioned Boateng looked sufficiently comfortable, but was still a little rusty after being off for so long. He spent his 68 minutes of time on the field getting reacquainted with real competition, while trying to dial in his long balls into the forwards. Some looked like he hadn't missed any time, some looked like something I would see in my old man beer leagues.
The question is, did Pep pull him out (he was replaced by David Alaba) because he was gassed? Or was Guardiola being cautious with someone who had missed three months? Or was he saving him for a surprise start on Tuesday in what might possibly be the defining game of the coach's career at Bayern?
Atletico Madrid denies Bayern's fans a chance to celebrate clinching the title
No matter how often a coach assures reporters that the next game is the only one he and his team are focusing on (and Pep does it all the time), it was painfully obvious, at least by the time the lineups were revealed, that nothing could have been further from the truth. The impending arrival of Atletico Madrid for the return leg at the Allianz Arena has everyone's attention, and that was the main reason that Guardiola benched (or left off the roster) so many key players. Without the CL distraction, this game probably is a formality, and the fans in Munich would have been rewarded with seeing the Meisterschale today.
So, thanks Atletico, for making the home-clinching celebration wait go into its 18th year. Maybe Carlo Ancelotti can do it next season.