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Four observations from Bayern Munich’s 2-0 loss to Hoffenheim

This game should set off a few alarm bells

TSG 1899 Hoffenheim v FC Bayern Muenchen - Bundesliga Photo by Alex Grimm/Bongarts/Getty Images

#1: Something is missing

Bayern Munich will hold the lion’s share of possession against any team in the Bundesliga, including Saturday’s match against Hoffenheim, in which Bayern controlled 72 percent of the possession. It did not, however, translate into any goals. Outside of Robert Lewandowski, and to a lesser degree Kingsley Coman and Thiago Alcantara, Bayern lacked any real imagination and inspiration in attack.

Carlo Ancelotti seems to have plenty of options at his disposal, but his ultimate starting XI and formation provided more questions than answers. Hoffenheim is vulnerable, specifically, to the way Arjen Robben dominates and exploits space, but he was merely a second-half substitute, as were Franck Ribery and James Rodriguez (more on him later). The 4-2-3-1 formation that was deployed Saturday might need to be scrapped in favor of something else to take advantage of Bayern’s current healthy personnel, and possibly get something more from Thomas Muller.

Imagine the possibilities of using Bayern’s depth in midfield (and possibly pushing Joshua Kimmich into attack a bit more). Creativity and urgency is missing from the 4-2-3-1 Bayern has used for the most part this season. The 4-3-3 formation produced three goals in the Bundesliga opener against Bayer Leverkusen. It might be time to revisit that.

#2: Right now, Julian Nagelsmann is the best manager in the Bundesliga

Carlo Ancelotti is always going to be on the hot seat due to the burden of expectation from managing a giant club like Bayern, and he shook hands with his potential replacement in Hoffenheim’s Julian Nagelsmann.

The 30-year-old wunderkind manager is organized and tactically aware of opponents’ strengths and weaknesses and knows how to exploit the latter, especially on Hoffenheim’s first goal. Bayern defender Mats Hummels cleared the ball down field, but play was not held up. Instead, Hoffenheim’s Andrej Kramaric collected another ball for a quick throw-in as the referee waved play on. Mark Uth got ahead of an out-of-position Hummels and into the penalty area and bested Manuel Neuer with a near-angle shot.

The variation of the 3-5-2 formation that Nagelsmann used against Bayern bottled up and closed off space at the right moments while allowing Hoffenheim to press hard when necessary.

#3: James Rodriguez made a puzzling Bundesliga debut

Finally, James Rodriguez played for Bayern in the Bundesliga following an injury layoff, but it was a head-scratching 12-minute cameo. James played a full 90 minutes for Colombia in a World Cup qualifier against Brazil this week, and it defies logic that if he is now fit there is not a place for him in the starting XI. The potential creative partnership that could materialize with Thiago. One way to take advantage is to start both players and see if that increases creativity in attack.

#4: Bayern faces Anderlecht on Tuesday in Champions League play, and a decisive win is needed

This loss needs to inspire Bayern to rip through Anderlecht in the midweek Champions League tilt. Four-plus goals, bushels of chances created, visionary play in the final third, none of which occurred Saturday nor came close to fruition.

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