On Saturday, Bayern Munich won 3-1 against FC Ingolstadt. It wasn’t a glorious performance. In many ways it was terrifying. Bayern Munich were outshot and the game was largely played outside of their control and while the result sounds impressive, Bayern’s performance was anything but. Despite all of that though, the wheels never felt like they were falling off the cart.
I honestly do not remember the last time Bayern Munich played football where they were not in control. Either on defense or offense, they’re a team who imposes their will on the game. Teams that defeat them come from outlasting that pressure, creating their few opportunities and capitalizing on them. Think of the numerous Champions League knockouts matches that Bayern have played in the last five years; their tie against Juventus last season was the closest to out of control I can remember.
For the past several days, I’ve thought quite a lot about the dichotomy of the win over Ingolstadt. Over the previous three seasons Pep Guardiola instilled complete discipline over the field. His numerous, complicated and at times even unnecessary formations and tactics were simultaneously the most aggressive attacking plan and the most aggressive defensive plan. It was football that was played on an amp that only had settings for 11.
In a nutshell, watching Pep Guardiola coach was as mentally exhausting to the viewer as his brand of football was to his players. It’s hard to get excited for an 81st minute goal when keeping up with cerebral proceedings of the previous 80 minutes has completely drained your brain.
But what about an 81st minute goal when the preceding 80 have been fraught with challenges? That’s an entirely different game.
So on Saturday there I was pounding my fist in the air as Jerome Boateng and Franck Ribery set off a quick counterattack while a wide open Rafinha attacked the far post in the 80th minute. The goal that resulted was special because it not only deflated the feeling of looming certitude that Ingolstadt would equalize, but it really encapsulated the return of fun football that Carlo Ancelotti has brought. And it was against lowly Ingolstadt.
On the heels of the Schalke performance and the Werder Bremen game, it’s worth wondering whether Carlo Ancelotti is precisely what Bayern Munich needed to bring emotional football back to Bayern. As their performance showed on Saturday, Bayern may not be as dominant and they will probably even lose a handful of games this season.
But making the league race tighter, or hell maybe even losing the league, would be ok with me if what we get is a Bayern Munich that entertains in glorious fashion again. I’ll probably change my tune by the time April or May rolls around given I’ve largely forgotten what a title race feels lik but for now I’m just going to bask in the fact that we’re watching enjoyable Bayern Munich football again.