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Three observations from Bayern’s thrilling 3-2 win over Augsburg

The game may have started on a hectic note, but Bayern was able to crawl back. What stood out?

dpatop - 15 February 2019, Bavaria, Augsburg: Soccer: Bundesliga, FC Augsburg - Bayern Munich, 22nd matchday in the WWK-Arena. Munich player Serge Gnabry (l-r) cheers with 2-2 scorer Kingsley Coman and his teammates Leon Goretzka and David Alaba. Photo: Angelika Warmuth/dpa - IMPORTANT NOTE: In accordance with the requirements of the DFL Deutsche Fußball Liga or the DFB Deutscher Fußball-Bund, it is prohibited to use or have used photographs taken in the stadium and/or the match in the form of sequence images and/or video-like photo sequences. Photo by Angelika Warmuth/picture alliance via Getty Images.

Unforced errors

As fans of Bayern, we always tend to expect perfection from our team. While it’s unrealistic to actually achieve such a thing, Bayern usually satisfies us with its famous German efficiency. Today was an example of a game where die Roten — simply put — made just too many individual errors. Facing off against a lower-quality side like Augsburg, Niko Kovac should have expected lots of aggressive pressure when Bayern advanced forward. Similarly, all the attacks that ended with Serge Gnabry being unable either to beat his man or to find an open seam are a part of the game. Sometimes players just have those games where they are constantly unlucky or are put off by the defense. But misplaced passes from players like James and missed touches from Lewandowski were frustrating to say the least. As their huge clash against Liverpool in Anfield looms ahead midweek, Bayern’s chances look to be slipping. Unlike Augsburg, Liverpool will capitalize on all of the dumb mistakes we make. If we want to withstand just the first leg, we can’t afford any of these critical errors.

Thiago as a safety net

Thiago is often lauded for his dominating presence in possession and his world-class ability and creativity moving up the pitch. This was certainly still the case with a 93% pass accuracy and countless effective turns and surges on the ball. Today, however, he also put his defensive quality on display. He led the away side in tackles (4) and bailed out his team when they made their aforementioned errors. Specifically, at one point in the game, Robert Lewandowski was pressured in his own half and gave away possession: Thiago then came up with, not one vital interception, but two. Both stopped Augsburg’s progress forward on a counter-attack, which is often Bayern’s Achilles’ heel. So while this facet of Thiago’s game didn’t necessarily need to be shown, we should be grateful he was willing and able to make up for his team’s shortcomings.

Coman vs. Gnabry

This game was a great example of how far along Kingsley Coman and Serge Gnabry are in their development compared to each other. Despite being out for months due to injury, Coman is still clearly ahead of Gnabry and looks to be a major focus of Bayern’s attack. He was able to escape most of the pressure Augsburg threw at him, take on defenders, and score two goals. Meanwhile, on the other flank, Gnabry struggled to get anything going. He often found himself in a good position after a great Bayern attack, but then almost immediately proceeded to lose possession.

Individual play isn’t the only spot where Coman excels. His relationship with David Alaba down the left side is something to behold. They seem to have a connection where one knows exactly where the other is and what to expect. But once again, the corresponding relationship on the right flank needs work. Perhaps it’s because Gnabry has played on both sides so often that Kimmich hasn’t exclusively worked with him, but they have a long way to go to fill the shoes of Arjen Robben and Philipp Lahm. Granted that is a huge comparison and expectation, but it’s also the reality. Those two legends developed a great camaraderie in the same positions as Kimmich and Gnabry, and it’s up to the two current players to take their place. Bayern may have great talent for the future, but it means nothing if they fail to learn how they can work to together to become virtually unstoppable.

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