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Five observations from Bayern Munich’s 2-0 win over Werder Bremen

It wasn’t a great performance, but the boys got the job done.

SV Werder Bremen v FC Bayern Muenchen - Bundesliga Photo by Stuart Franklin/Bongarts/Getty Images

#1: Corentin Tolisso is a gem of a player

Bayern Munich really know how to do a good piece of business. Three weeks into the new season, the club’s record signing Corentin Tolisso is beginning to look like a real bargain. Picking up from where he left off last week, the Frenchman wasted no time stamping his authority on the game once again.

Partnered with Thiago and Vidal in a three-man midfield, Tolisso outshone both his peers with a dominant performance, covering ground and making interceptions all over the field. His role looks to have been codified now, with him playing as a right central midfielder and supporting Kimmich and Robben on the flank. His presence allows the pair to push up and attack without needing to worry too much about tracking back.

There were however a few hiccups in his performance. Tolisso had a few cheap giveaways that led to turnovers in possession, and was guilty of some sloppy passing in the final third. The Frenchman’s overall performance was less polished than his earlier outings, yet he was still extremely involved - Tolisso could’ve had a goal when his shot hit the post within ten minutes.

#2: Robben and Ribery simply weren’t themselves

Bayern’s mercurial winger duo “Robbery” had a rare poor outing against Werder Bremen. Both players struggled to penetrate a stout Werder defense, failing to get any substantial shots on target and unable to service Robert Lewandowski.

Franck Ribery put in a lung-busting performance in his seventy minutes, trying to get something going with David Alaba on the left. However, Werder Bremen seemed ready for the veteran winger, sticking two defenders on him at all times and anticipating his plays. The Frenchman was nullified and looked visibly frustrated. He was subbed off for a fresh Thomas Muller in the 73rd minute.

Arjen Robben didn’t have it much better. Without the benefit of having his usual partner Philipp Lahm to support him, the Dutchman seemed at a loss in the final third. Just like Ribery, he was dispossessed regularly, and he struggled to get on the same wavelength with Joshua Kimmich. He was subbed for Kingsley Coman in the 64th minute.

#3: Thiago Alcantara had a quiet game

Questions will be asked of coach Carlo Ancelotti about Thiago Alcantara’s overall fitness. The Spaniard was unusually subdued in the middle of the park, failing to make any of those crisp passes or throughballs that he is known for. He was dispossessed a staggering three times, unthinkable for a player so gifted and comfortable on the ball.

The player made little to no impact on the game, and his partners Arturo Vidal and Corentin Tolisso had to pick up the slack in midfield. Having just returned from an injury, one must wonder whether he was ready to start the game.

#4: Carlo Ancelotti’s substitutions made the difference

Prior to the 60th minute, Robert Lewandowski had barely touched the ball. With Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery having uncharacteristically poor games, the Polish hit-man was starved for service in the final thrid.

Then around the 60th minute, Ancelotti subbed on Kinglsey Coman. Immediately, everything changed. Coman immediately created a chance with his blistering pace, one that Lewandowski promptly converted (and which may or may not have been offside). Up next, Thomas Muller was subbed on for the under-performing Ribery, and he too created a huge chance. A quick pass from the German released Robert Lewandowski in space. The Polish international confidently converted to score Bayern’s second goal of the game - nutmegging the Bremen goalkeeper and defender in the process.

Staggeringly, these were Lewandowski’s only two shots of the game.

#5: Bayern’s defense remains uncertain

Werder Bremen didn’t attack Bayern particularly often, but when they did they looked dangerous. Manuel Neuer will thank his defenders for strong individual performances in front of the net - Mats Hummels especially, who was a rock. However, the Bavarians lacked defensive structure and relied heavily on Hummels and Sule to make timely blocks and interceptions. Communication seemed lacking inside the box, and whenever Bremen came forward a sense of panic seemed to set in.

While a clean sheet is always appreciated, Carlo Ancelotti will still be scratching his head over how to get his players on the same wavelength.

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