If Bayern Munich were looking for a boost from their match-up with Wolfsburg, they did not find it. There were some encouraging signs from their narrow 1-0 win on Tuesday. Here are five observations from Bayern’s win against Wolfsburg.
Thiago is clearly Bayern’s most important player
Douglas Costa won man of the match (and more importantly Meister of the Match!) but Thiago had a strong argument of being the most impactful player on the field. Bayern’s build-up, although still not great (see below), was markedly improved as opposed to previous matches. Bayern’s passing was at 91 percent after being 64 percent against Bremen a week and a half ago. That drastic change can be attributed to Thiago, who lead the team in touches in his first game back from injury.
Wolfsburg were set up well, but Bayern is still needed to be better
Valerien Ismael was very conservative with his tactics (Wolfsburg got just three shots away in the game) and his team executed pretty well. But Bayern are used to teams parking the bus against them, and their slow pace of play really bogs down everything they do. Switching the play in particular was a a real struggle, and too many chances came from hopeful crosses into the penalty area. Teams that win trebles are more more potent than that.
Thomas Müller wasn’t missed as much as he should be
Thiago’s return came at the expense of Müller, and the struggling forward was not missed all that much. Bayern had trouble getting opportunities in the penalty area, but that was down to Wolfsburg’s numbers in the box, not the absence of Müller. Thiago and Arturo Vidal got decent chances making late runs into the box as well and looked more dangerous than Müller has for most of the season. Being the player he is, Müller will still be a likely selection for Ancelotti, but it must not be encouraging for Müller to see how good the team is without him.
Ancelotti is not doing Kingsley Coman and Renato Sanches any favors
It’s hard to fault a coach for saving two substitutions for the last 10 minutes in a cup game when extra time is a likely possibility. But bringing on Coman and Renato Sanches for a handful of minutes when both are struggling for form is a curious move. Coman has gotten a little more of a run since returning from injury, but Renato Sanches remains an enigma that has made five appearances of less than five minutes this season. If these players are going to take the next step in their careers, Ancelotti has to give them a decent chance to do so.
Philipp Lahm did not look like a player about to retire
Reports of Lahm retiring came right around kickoff, an ironic time for such a report to break since he received a small ceremony before the game celebrating his 500th Bayern appearance. But Lahm did not play like a player who is on the horizon of his career. I mean, he was combining with Arjen Robben and Thiago like it was 2013! Not all of his performances have looked like the one on Tuesday, but it seems there is still enough left in the tank for him to at least see out his contract.