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Three observations from Bayern Munich’s shambolic 2-0 loss to Hertha Berlin

Dreadful performances by Boateng and Ribery compounded by questionable substitutions sealed this loss.

BERLIN, GERMANY - SEPTEMBER 28: Thiago Alcantara of FC Bayern Muenchen reacts after Vedad Ibisevic of Hertha BSC scores his team's first goal during the Bundesliga match between Hertha BSC and FC Bayern Muenchen at Olympiastadion on September 28, 2018 in Berlin, Germany. Photo by Boris Streubel/Bongarts/Getty Images

Bayern Munich looked completely lost

This was a game where it seemed like Bayern Munich had zero answers for the questions Hertha Berlin was asking. There wasn’t a single facet of Bayern’s game that was on point — be it the attack, the defense, or the midfield. Let’s recap, one by one:

  • The attack: 23 shots, only 4 were on target. Bayern simply had no idea what to do in the final third. By the end, all the team could do was hoof the ball up and hope either Sandro Wagner or Robert Lewandowski could get to it, as if we were being coached by Tony Pulis or something. It was not fun to watch.
  • The midfield: Thiago, what the hell man? Misplaced passes, botched interceptions, and ineffective passing summed up the Spaniard’s game tonight. While he was nowhere near as bad as some of the players around him, Thiago was far from the standard he sets himself, and it showed. Being paired with the inexperienced Renato Sanches didn’t help matters.
  • The defense: Jerome Boateng had a night to forget, and that’s putting it kindly. Niklas Süle and Joshua Kimmich were okay, but it was a total disasterclass from the man who was supposed to be the most experienced defender in the lineup. I think we all know who will not start against Ajax on Wednesday.

Franck Ribery was active, but ineffective

Dear lord, Franck Ribery. If it weren’t for Jerome Boateng having a nightmarish performance, Ribery would probably get my vote for “Worst Player of the Match.” Okay, to be fair, he was involved. He linked up with Alaba rather well on the left, and won maybe a dozen corners over the course of the game.

Bayern Munich doesn’t need a Franck Ribery who can dribble past three players and score by himself. Prime Ribery could have done it, but that player is long gone. What we need is a player who can release the ball in a timely manner when he gets it in a dangerous position. This current iteration of Franck Ribery is not that kind of player. If any other winger had the kind of support Franck Ribery gets at Bayern, he’d be assisting goals by the bucket-load.

It’s a good thing Ribery played the full 90 here, because it means that he’ll be benched for the game against Ajax Amsterdam. I, for one, couldn’t be more glad.

Niko Kovac’s substitutions made no sense

It is time for the coach to face some harsh criticism. Kovac’s subs made no sense. Let me walk you through them:

  • Thomas Muller for Arjen Robben, 52’: This is the easiest sub to understand but it still barely makes sense. Robben was the most threatening player on the right side of the pitch, and one of the few that had come close to scoring in the first half. Why sub him off? Müller’s introduction was needed, but why not sub off Sanches, who was superfluous at that point? What was the thinking here?
  • Serge Gnabry for Renato Sanches, 63’: WHY WAS RENATO SANCHES SUBBED AND NOT FRANCK RIBERY? The game was begging for Gnabry, but he didn’t need to be in the center! Seriously, Berlin’s right side was being ripped apart again and again by Alaba and Ribery. Why didn’t Kovac exploit it by subbing on Gnabry as a left winger? His pace could’ve been an asset there, but no. We just HAD to keep Ribery on the pitch.
  • Sandro Wagner on for James Rodriguez, 72’: This is the point where I gave up on Bayern ever making a comeback in the game, to be honest. To sub on an extra striker, ostensibly to win headers, while subbing on your best crosser of the ball in James? What. The. Hell. How does that make any sense? You sub on an aerial threat while removing the service for that aerial threat? Case in point, Wagner did nothing after coming on. No shots, no duels, nothing. We might as well have subbed on a 72 year old Gerd Muller for all the good it did us.

The only way this makes sense is if Kovac decided that the game was gone and tried to keep important players fresh for the upcoming Champions league game against Ajax. Even if that were the case, it doesn’t excuse the performance we saw on the pitch. Niko Kovac had better get his boys to rally after this loss, otherwise things could get ugly very quickly.

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