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Five observations on Bayern Munich’s underwhelming 3-0 win over Anderlecht

Bayern struggled to get anything going against 10 men for over an hour.

Bayern Muenchen v RSC Anderlecht - UEFA Champions League
When Carlo says jump...
Photo by Alex Grimm/Bongarts/Getty Images

This performance against 10 men does nothing to clear the air

Bayern Munich had hoped to make a resounding statement with this game, to show a collective reaction to the negative press and controversy surrounding the team. The performance today may have exacerbated those concerns, if anything. Bayern took a 1-0 lead on a penalty, but failed to do anything productive with that advantage for over an hour. The team even nearly conceded twice against 10 men, with Chipchiu hitting the post.

Anderlecht essentially conceded the midfield, but Bayern let that vast space between their defense and offense remain a no man's land and simply battered Anderlecht in their bunker rather than utilize the midfield to draw them out. It is not a coincidence that the 2-0 goal came from a rare break from open play - before Anderlecht could settle into their defensive positions, and the 3-0 goal came off a pass by the center-back Jerome Boateng from 20 yards in Anderlecht's own half.

Bayern’s uninspired offense and defensive frailty against a 10-man side are alarming.

Lewandowski looking out for number 9

If you were hoping that Lewandowski would prove all our fears about his loyalty and character were unfounded, look elsewhere. Lewandowski made a perfect run in the 11th minute and won a penalty. He converted it - and checked out. Lewandowski showed little chemistry with his teammates, missing a handful of chances that trickled his way. The coup de grace came in the 52nd minute, when he decided to dribble and take a bad shot rather than pass to a wide-open Arjen Robben. Robben complained, as he should. If Lewandowski is in a funk, Bayern desperately need him to snap out of it.

A very strong debut for James Rodriguez

With Thomas Müller on the bench, James Rodriguez started behind Lewandowski as central attacking midfielder. He interpreted the position very broadly and roamed all over the field at will. He seemed to range even farther back than Müller normally would, even making a notable tackle deep on Bayern's left flank at one point. Despite that tendency to drift back, James contributed significantly to Bayern's offense, producing 4 key passes and two excellent shots of his own stopped by Anderlech's keeper Sels. Although he might have had both an assist or two and a goal early on, James could not break through. It was not for lack of effort.

Joshua Kimmich and Robben: the good and the bad

Joshua Kimmich will save us all, but what on earth happened to him and Arjen Robben for the first sixty-odd minutes today? Kimmich and Robben showed so little chemistry, they looked like they were playing for different teams. Robben in particular simply seemed lost at times. He danced back and forth along the top edge of the penalty box, but never really found the space to cut inside or deliver crosses. He found most of his chances playing in a central position, with James to his right and Kimmich out wide.

Kimmich, for his part, spent almost the entire game in Anderlecht's half, regularly driving all the way to goal line. Thanks to Anderlecht's compact defending, however, he had nothing to show for it until the 65th minute, when Bayern at last launched a full-on attack from open play instead of slowly laying siege to Anderlecht's fortifications. Kimmich drove forward and lobbed a perfect cross for Thiago to make the game a far more comfortable 2-0. Kimmich danced around Anderlecht's goalkeeper to make it 3-0 in the final minute of the match, but was too preoccupied to celebrate.

Welcome back Jerome Boateng!

At long last Jerome Boateng celebrated his comeback, and what better way to celebrate than with an assist! Boateng played approximately 15 minutes and was not seriously challenged by Anderlecht during that time. He misplayed his first attempted pass directly to an opposing player but showed far better accuracy thereafter (going 7/8 total), including a brilliant pass to Kimmich that threaded the needle through four Anderlecht players and producing Bayern’s third goal. Boateng obviously is an extremely valuable presence, but that may come as bad news to Javi Martinez. While Niklas Süle has been a revelation, both on defense and offense, Javi continues to stuggle at times. He was saved by the post today.

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