A first half with unfinished business
Bayern Munich came strong out of the gates in Freiburg and quickly created a clear goal-scoring opportunity after a line-breaking ball from David Alaba found Philippe Coutinho in behind the Freiburg line after 2 minutes, though the Brazilian’s chip was cleared off the line.
Bayern attempted a lot of vertical passes out from the back to find their attacking midfielders and at times wingers in the half-spaces in front of the Freiburg defensive back line. While the forays were often successful, Freiburg’s sheer numbers at the back allowed them to hound Bayern’s receivers and prevent them from turning and playing clean final balls. Final actions in front of the Freiburg goal that were too inaccurate and good saves by Mark Flekken ultimately prevented Bayern from going into the break with more than just one goal.
At the same time, Freiburg were strong at disrupting Bayern just in time and countering quickly when gaining possession. They transitioned quickly numerous times, and while their final execution also left much to be desired, you could tell that they were capable of fashioning dangerous chances on the counter and after turnovers.
Freiburg aggressive in the second half
Coming out of half time, Freiburg played a higher line and attempted to disrupt Bayern’s build-up play much earlier than in the second half. This forced Bayern into mistakes time and time again, which allowed Freiburg to play aggressively towards Bayern’s goal. They did a good job finding holes and open spaces in the Bayern line to play through, equalizing deservedly. The introduction of Kwon Chang-Hoon especially brought life into Freiburg’s game going forward, and he was instrumental in Freiburg remaining dangerous throughout the second half.
Seeing Bayern struggle to overplay the press of Freiburg, Flick took out Thomas Müller for Javi Martinez and switched to a 4-2-3-1 with Martinez and Thiago protecting the back line. This didn’t really do much to stabilize play, and the game remained fairly open. The back line especially looked very open in the second half, and Bayern were lucky not to be punished by Freiburg.
Contributions from unlikely sources
With Jerome Boateng, Javi Martinez, and Sven Ulreich the only established first team players on the bench, Hansi Flick had to turn to youth late for extra contributions offensively. For the second time within a week, Flick brought on Joshua Zirkzee late, and today Flick was rewarded as Zirkzee was able to get on the end of a Serge Gnabry ball over a Freiburg defender and poke the ball between Flekken’s legs for the 2:1 lead in the 92nd minute.
What a moment for Joshua Zirkzee!— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) December 18, 2019
The 18-year-old becomes the 3rd-youngest player ever to score a @Bundesliga_EN goal for @FCBayernUS. pic.twitter.com/nb6oLhZAPT
It’s a huge moment for an academy product in an important game, and a huge moment for the 18-year-old, who has struggled this season playing with the second team and is scoreless in 13 games in the 3. Liga. It’s been a different story in the U-19’s, where he has 5 goals in 5 games, including 4 in 3 games in the youth Champions League. Bayern have been hoping to bring an academy product through to the first team, and this is the first big contribution a youth player has made in an important game on the first team level in a long time.
Zirkzee, who joined Bayern from Feyenoord Rotterdam in 2017, has progressed rapidly through Bayern’s ranks from the U-17’s to the second and would fill a position of need for Bayern if he could establish himself as an option behind Robert Lewandowksi. It’ll be interesting to keep an eye out for his development over the coming months, especially during Bayern’s winter training camp in Doha. Hopefully he can play his way into more opportunities.