Niklas Süle should be the first defender on the team sheet
Niklas Süle and Jerome Boateng looked to be in control of the match, forming a nice center-back partnership and squashing most attacking moves. Süle’s pace and nose for danger allowed Boateng to move forward more freely and participate in the attack. Süle had a massive day providing cover, notching three tackles, 3 interceptions and six clearances. This empowered Boa to do what he does best, without the added pressure of frantically tracking back on counter-attacks. The former world champion has lost a step or two of his recovery pace, which can leave him the back line exposed, but the younger Süle serves as the perfect foil. Mats Hummels, like Boateng, enjoys getting forward, and either one is most effective when paired with the German giant.
That being said, Süle and Boateng cost Bayern Munich the game when they allowed Lucas Höler to sneak in between them and get on the end of a beautiful ball for the equalizer. They both share the blame as neither sensed the danger or communicated with his partner. Despite a solid performance overall, another defensive error, coupled with attacking ineptitude, cost the Bavarian giants in the Allianz Arena.
Gnabry showed signs of life, but he must do more
Serge Gnabry is becoming an increasingly frustrating figure. He has all the talent in the world, but seems to go missing in matches when Bayern need his play-making abilities most. He needs to assert himself more offensively because without him, Bayern lack pace and ideas in the final third. Good things happened when the German international was decisive on the ball, including two dribbles, two key passes and a brilliant shot to give Niko Kovac’s men the lead. He is one of the only members of the squad who can consistently take opponents on the dribble; he just needs to do it more. The absence of Kingsley Coman necessitates it. Please, Serge Gnabry. You’re our only hope.
Joshua Kimmich is wasted in the midfield
Niko Kovac elected to shift Joshua Kimmich to the middle of the park to serve as holding midfielder as he has for Germany in recent months. The German international had a relatively effective afternoon, disrupting the Frieburg’s attack and dictating play, with two key passes, one dribble, two interceptions, two tackles and two clearances. Although the young defender, in the mold of Phillip Lahm, is capable of playing all over the pitch and making an impact, he is wasted in the midfield.
Full-backs are vital to modern attacking soccer. Yes, Rafinha was solid on the day, but he does not provide the same quality of service and he failed to disrupt multiple balls from the flanks. When Kimmich is given space to overlap and play dangerous balls into the box, he adds another threat for the opposition to cope with. In the midfield, the young German is forced to play more short passes in tighter spaces, with the occasional long ball. Goretzka should be given a chance as the regista in the hopes of freeing up Bayern’s prodigious right-back.
Also, shout out to Kimmich’s mustache, it was the real MVP.
Bringing on Leon Goretzka for Serge Gnabry to shut down the game following the go-ahead goal was logical enough, but the other substitutions lacked vision. While Bayern were still chasing their first goal, Franck Ribery was subbed on for Arjen Robben while Thomas Müller waited patiently on the bench. Frieburg had employed a low block all night, making it difficult for the Bavarians to break through. Instead of bringing on the Raumdeuter to manipulate space and create openings for his teammates, Kovac opted to bring on an even older and less effective attacking option.
When Müller was finally brought into the game to provide reinforcements for a frustrated attack, James Rodriguez made way for the German. The most creative player on the roster was pulled from the game while Die Roten struggled to pick the lock that was the Freiburg defense. Head-scratching, indeed.
Dortmund extended their lead at the top of the table in a workmanlike 1-0 victory of Wolfsburg. Since what is commercially known as Der Klassiker now looms ahead on the horizon, the points dropped today have made it even more vital for the record champions to come out of the Westfalenstadion with a victory. Bayern have a week to right the ship, or it could be another frustrating evening.