Poor performance, 3 points
After the intense clash at Anfield on Tuesday, a clean-sheet victory brings Bayern Munich level with Borussia Dortmund is really all you can ask for as a supporter. Kovac’s side has now every chance to win the league and to progress in the Champions League. If you asked an expert or a supporter if Bayern had a chance of winning the league and knocking out last year’s Champions League’s finalists before 2019, most of them would have said that the chance is slim. Now it is a real possibility that Bayern might do both.
Dortmund, who haven’t won a game since the 26th of January, will play against in-form Leverkusen tomorrow. This result will undoubtedly pressure the young Dortmund side, as they have no margin for error.
The Spaniards made the difference
In the first half, Bayern struggled to create anything offensively, as the midfield trio James Rodriguez, Leon Goretzka and Javi Martinez lacked creativity and energy. Kovac made the right move in putting on Thiago Alcantara at half time. The Spaniard immediately made a positive difference in Bayern’s midfield. James, who had a poor first half, began to get more space in which he could start attacking runs. Thiago’s calmness on the ball, ability to move the ball forward, and overall creativity were what Bayern needed after a relatively stagnant first half.
Martinez had yet another solid performance today as he was a thorn in Hertha’s side, stifling their creativity throughout the 90 minutes. He also became the unlikely match-winner with his header from a James corner. Frankly, Martinez got lucky as Rune Jarstein found himself in no man’s land, yet that does not take away a good performance from the Navarre native.
The defense won the game
It’s nice to see that after a season where Bayern and Kovac have been plagued by regularly shaky defensive performances, Bayern gets two clean sheets in one week. This is a development that may turn out to be crucial, as we are experiencing the most important stages of the season.
Jerome Boateng had his best game of the season season against Hertha. The German center-back, who had been relatively poor before today, showed calmness in his distribution of the ball and experience in his tackling.
Forwards Davie Selke and Salomon Kalou caused some disturbances with their constant running, but the defense was for the most part in control of the battle. Kimmich and Alaba played well defensively today, especially Kimmich, who showed resilience with a brilliant goal-line clearance.
Offensively, Bayern was very poor. Robert Lewandowski was lonely up top for most of the game as he did not get much help from any of the wingers or James. Serge Gnabry and Franck Ribery failed to service the Polish international or create any dangerous situations themselves. This forced Kovac to put on Kingsley Coman (why didn’t he put on Thomas Müller?), who found himself injured after being on the pitch for only a few minutes.
That said, much credit should be given to Dardai’s well-disciplined side. Their organization and resilience limited Bayern to only a few clear-cut chances. There are not many teams that can do that away in Munich.
All in all, it was not the greatest performance, but Bayern Munich did what was expected of them. Coman’s injury felt a bit unnecessary and unfortunate, but these are developments that any team must face during the course of a season. A relatively boring and poor offensive display from Bayern is today overshadowed by the positive result and defensive performance.