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Two observations from Bayern Munich’s 2-0 win against a tenacious Olympiacos

In Hansi Flick’s first game as Die Roten’s manager, Bayern managed to get their first clean sheet since the 21st of September.  

Photo by TF-Images/Getty Images

1. Solid defensive performance

Considering that Bayern has let in 13 goals in their last six games, a clean sheet with no player in the back four playing their usual position was a positive surprise. Olympiacos had in total three goal attempts and none on target.

Javi Martinez and David Alaba moved the ball around with ease. Except for Alaba’s mistake in the first half, Olympiacos was never close to scoring, and their front three barely touched the ball the whole game. Further up the pitch, Joshua Kimmich was excellent as a deep-lying midfielder. The German international controlled the space between the center-backs and the offensive midfielders, showcasing the quality he can bring in the middle of the park. His calmness in possession and forward distribution was key in today’s victory.

Bayern played, at times, a 4-1-4-1 with both Leon Goretzka and Thomas Muller playing further up the pitch than Kimmich. Both Goretzka and Muller did well in consistently pressuring the Olympiacos midfield and regaining possession.

Not called to duty too often, both Benjamin Pavard and Alphonso Davies had solid games. Pavard needs to improve his crossing and Davies is an uncut diamond, though both did their job defensively. Davies, who recently turned 19, has been a positive surprise at the left-back position. Yes, he needs a ton of work, but his talents are epitomized in the fact that he had a good first Champions League start in a foreign position.

2. Team sync is needed

Offensively, it was an average Bayern performance. Olympiacos defended vigorously in a true Greek style, and they came only 20 minutes away from succeeding. Ruben Semedo gave me that great feeling when you are so impressed by a player you know almost nothing about. The Portuguese defender, born in the Amadora district in Lisbon (the same district where Renato Sanches was born), was fantastic today and he frustrated Robert Lewandowski throughout the game. A sign of Lewandowski’s greatness, Semedo’s great game wasn’t enough to keep the Polish superstar off the score sheet, and Bayern was able to break the deadlock in the 69th minute.

The Bayern squad is a team with big potential. Players such as Kingsley Coman, Serge Gnabry, Joshua Kimmich, and Leon Goretzka are all under the age of 25 and can take that crucial step from being good players to becoming world-class players. The Bayern team on the pitch today is significantly better than Olympiacos, and it shouldn’t take almost 70 minutes to break them down, especially at home.

Granted, rebuilding takes time and Bayern has experienced a tumultuous couple of days, but many problems that have haunted Bayern this season were apparent yet again today. During the first half, Bayern created chances only in direct situations or individual Coman dribbles. Both fullbacks were cautious and lacked quality in their crossing. Thomas Müller and Leon Goretzka looked energetic, but they also lacked that final touch to their attacking product. If Bayern did not have a striker who needs only one chance to score, the game could have stayed 0-0 till the end of the game.

The individual quality is there, although, at this very moment, the Bayern players need to improve their overall cohesion. This is, of course, very doable: the season is still young and Bayern still has a realistic chance of winning all three titles. It is clear, however, that the most important task the new Bayern manager faces is not to decide whether Kimmich should play right-back or in the middle of the park, or whether Müller should play instead of Coutinho, but rather how this new Bayern squad can sync up harmoniously together. If that can be achieved, the sky’s the limit.

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