1. An Oktoberfest type hangover after a mid-week triumph
Ending tomorrow, the annual Oktoberfest was alive and well in the city of Munich and the stands at the Allianz Arena. After Bayern won all three games during the festivities, the last game in Munich did not go as planned. On Tuesday Bayern became the first team to score 7 goals against a Premier League team in the history of the Champions League; today they became the first side to lose at home to Hoffenheim this season.
Looking like another team than the one that clinically destroyed Tottenham Hotspur, Bayern played their worst game of the season. There was not a single moment where it looked like Bayern had the game under control. Everyone, apart from Robert Lewandowski and Thomas Müller, had a horrible game. Bayern looked sluggish in possession, passive when defending, and uncreative when attacking. It simply was a game to forget after one of the best performances this year.
Could it be blamed on the lack of motivation and an overall underestimation of Hoffenheim? Perhaps. Winning against Tottenham in one of the bigger games of the season in that manner could have impacted the players today. Hoffenheim took advantage of Bayern’s passiveness and Bayern was unable to recover. Dietmar Hopp’s team won deservedly today.
2. A controversial line-up
It is unfair to blame this loss solely on Niko Kovač. He could not help it that all of the starters, apart from the Polish angel named Robert Lewandowski, played terrible today. What he should have done — of course, easy to say in hindsight — was to rotate the line-up. Why Thomas Müller was benched yet again today was quite baffling. Yes, it is understandable that Kovač decided to play the four attacking players who scored seven goals against a 2019 Champions League finalist. Yet since Bayern has such a big squad, especially in the attacking positions, Hoffenheim at home would have been a great opportunity for Thomas Müller and Ivan Perišić to show the coach that they are good enough for the starting eleven.
It’s hard to believe that Serge Gnabry tore Tottenham’s defense apart only five days ago. Both he and Phillippe Coutinho had an abysmal game today. Thiago and Corentin Tolisso were edgeless in the middle of the park. Niklas Süle and Jérôme Boateng were too passive in the center of the back line and it cost Bayern two goals.
Could it be blamed on tired legs? To an extent, yes. Coutinho has now played many games in a row, something he is not used too. The same goes for Gnabry and Coman, who last year were used to rotating more for Arjen Robben and Franck Ribéry. Although this is not an excuse for such a poor performance, it could partly explain it.
3. No reason to panic
This is the first Bundesliga loss since Bayern lost to Leverkusen back in February last season. Bayern’s first loss of the season comes after 9 competitive games played. A home loss is never great, but there’s no reason to panic. The Bayern players looked like they suffered from the mid-week blues. They look unmotivated, tired and possibly underestimated their opponents. This needs to be addressed, although it is clear that Bayern Munich is a much better team capable of much better performances than the game today.
This season fans have seen the same side perform much better in every department on the field. Hopefully, today was just one of those days when a lack of winning attitude gave the team a wake-up call.
The season is long, not performing today is better than not performing when it matters. Let’s hope Niko Kovač and his men learn from this and move on.