If Bayern Munich's showing in March against Juventus was one of their best knockout stage performances of the season, their showing against Benfica on Tuesday was surely one of their worst. Their foot did not seem to be on the gas, or at least it was not pressing as hard as Benfica clearly was. They still have a goal lead and a no away goals in their aggregate record, but their performance was not one of a treble champion. However, there were some interesting observations to take away from the game, but some not so positive ones as well.
1. Arturo Vidal had his best game in a Bayern shirt
Statistics may pick another, but Vidal was absolutely stellar in the game, and was clearly Bayern's best player. He scored a goal, sure, but for those who were paying attention, the goal was a small portion of his efforts. He was vintage Vidal, moving from box to box to be on the end of some final passes while also helping contain Jonas. One can never say anything definitive about Guardiola's best XI, but Vidal is definitely part of it now.
2. Unfamiliarity hurt Bayern in crucial positions
For most of the season, Bayern was adjusted in a perfect, precise way, and everyone appeared to be on the same page. That was not the case on Tuesday. Juan Bernat has overlapped the runs of several of his teammates, but does not have that chemistry with Franck Ribery. Douglas Costa has been a spectacular player on the left, but does not have even close to the same impact in an inverted position. Guardiola has been able to foresee many positional issues that could come up, and has positioned players like David Alaba, Joshua Kimmich and Philipp Lahm to overcome squad deficiencies. He has not done the same preparations with attacking positions, and that could present a problem if not sorted soon.
3. Widening the play will help Bayern pull conservative teams apart
If one could take one tactic from this game, it was the width with which Bayern played. In order to manage the 90 minutes, Benfica moved into two banks of four very early in the game, so Bayern countered with Vidal and Thiago Alcantara switching the play frequently and letting the skill of Ribery and Douglas take over. Bayern were not able to make much of the chances that tactic created, but those opportunities could definitely present themselves in the very near future.
4. The partnership Robert Lewandowski and Thomas Müller is effective, but static
Lewandowski and Müller have played next to each other for most of the season, and most of the time the results were very positive. Many Bundesliga teams have not been able to contain the two, but the good ones have in 2016 – Borussia Dortmund, Bayer Leverkusen, Mainz 05. Benfica certainly did in the first leg on Tuesday, forcing each away from goal in order to prevent them from getting chances. If Bayern's skill is not enough to create chances for the two, there is no other option without Arjen Robben on the field. That is very disconcerting for a team that has to potentially keep up with the best attacking trios in the world.
5. Javi Martinez is going to be rushed back, and not by choice
The partnership of Alaba and Kimmich has been an ingenious pair that has allowed Bayern to survive without a center back. However, the days of in which the two of them can be an effective pair are numbered. Bayern's ability to handle Benfica's attack was noticeably better with Martinez on the field, a sign he is one of the best options Bayern have in the center back position. That is a little disconcerting considering his injury proneness over the past two seasons.