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Observations from Bayern Munich’s loss to RB Leipzig

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Bayern struggled with the intensity Leipzig brought to the pitch today and lost deservingly.

Napoli v RB Leipzig - UEFA Europa League Photo by Francesco Pecoraro/Getty Images

Leipzig’s pressing looked great

Leipzig pressed Bayern Munich hard, and it definitely paid off for. Leipzig’s press created tons of space and allowed them to get out on the break and hit Bayern on the counter. Both of their goals actually came after good pressing actions.

The first goal was a result of great pressure near Bayern’s own penalty area. Bayern lost the ball and a quick pass into the middle allowed Leipzig to level the game. The second goal came as a result of winning possession in the midfield and quickly shifting things forward to allow Timo Werner to run onto Sven Ulreich and slot it home for the 2:1 advantage.

In general, Leipzig played a fantastic game. They looked hungry, their passing was sharp, their counters were quick and they shifted well from defending to attacking. Leipzig, unlike most opponents, didn’t look afraid or intimidated. In truth, Leipzig probably deserved more than two goals, squandering some very good chances across the 90 minutes that could’ve made this result even uglier for Bayern than it ended up being.

Bayern failed to control the midfield

Chalk this one up, in part, to the Leipzig press. Whenever Bayern had the ball in midfield, Leipzig were all over them, closing down spaces hard and forcing Bayern to make decisions quickly. Unfortunately, Bayern couldn’t cope and they failed to establish possession and control of the game the way they usually do.

Sebastian Rudy especially struggled with the applied pressure and he wasn’t the calming, defensive presence Bayern needed from their number 6 today. To be fair to him though, it was his first start in over a month, and coming in to play the defensive midfield role against a team pressing hard whenever they lost the ball wasn’t going to be easy for anyone.

The whole team also just played poorly. Misplaced passes, bad touches, and other unusual errors allowed Leipzig to be on the front foot for most of the game and apply pressure consistently. It would be careless to blame Rudy for Bayern’s performance today, and I’d have a difficult time saying he was worse than the rest of the starting 11.

Bayern needed this

Bayern don’t get this type of game enough. Games where the opponent challenges them and forces them to find another gear in order to control the match and ultimately come out on top. Bayern couldn’t find that gear today, but games like last week where Bayern dominate from the opening to the final whistle don’t bring them closer to their goal of winning the Champions League. Games like the one today, will.

In general, Bayern left tons of space defensively, were too open at the back, and not quick enough in their passing game to outplay Leipzig’s press. But the team will have to learn from today, and doing so will only make them better. Bayern are best when the Bundesliga fields good teams and challenges them week in, week out. Not an “11 men behind the ball in hopes of a 0:0 draw” challenge, but a challenge in the form of a team looking for three points. It’s what they’ll be going up against in the Champions League, and it’s what will push them to their peak.