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Three observations from Bayern Munich’s 1-3 loss to Liverpool FC

Bayern Munich’s Champions League campaign came to an abrupt end after a poor showing at the Allianz Arena. The loss exposes the flaws of a team in the midst of change.

13 March 2019, Bavaria, München: Soccer: Champions League, knockout round, round of sixteen, second leg: FC Bayern Munich - FC Liverpool in the Allianz Arena. Munich's Robert Lewandowski (r) and Liverpool coach Jürgen Klopp stand side by side after the match. Photo by Peter Kneffel/dpa/picture alliance via Getty Images

A lack of quality

Bayern fans were worried this summer when club president Uli Hoeness made it clear that the transfer policy was to save rather than spend. After a shaky start in the league and a couple unconvincing games in the Champions League, Bayern supporters’ worries about the quality of the team were somewhat silenced by the great start to 2019. Today, Bayern’s weak squad showed. Bayern’s offense withered without Joshua Kimmich and Thomas Müller, who missed the game due disciplinary suspensions; Robben’s creativity was also needed today. Yet it’s no secret that the team Kovac inherited was weaker than those of previous years.

Compared to a Liverpool team who has had a resurrection under Klopp, Kovac’s Bayern looked like a team that was incapable of creating an offensive threat. Two shots on target in Munich is simply not good enough from a club that should be considered as one of the greatest in Europe.

A lack of creativity

The game was won today by Liverpool’s ability to cancel out the creativeness of both Thiago and James. Even at the Allianz, Bayern uncharacteristically were unable to create any clear-cut chances. After a relatively solid first half in terms of defense, Bayern had everything to play for in the second half. Yet the offense could not get it done. The fact that the team collectively managed only 3 key passes the whole game shows just how far the mighty have fallen. For most of the game, Bayern’s midfield lacked creative ideas and resorted either back-passes back to the defense or to long balls towards an empty target. The fact that Renato Sanches was subbed on to replace superstar James only goes to show how far short Bayern’s creativity fell today.

Bayern’s only goal today was not a product of creative play but rather one of fortune. Credit is due to Liverpool’s midfield and defense, who managed to cancel out our world-class players for a full 90 minutes. However, this also reflects the first observation above: Bayern simply did not have the creative quality in their squad today to compete with one of the best teams in the world.

Ribery, Neuer, and Lewandowski have seen their best years

Sadly, Ribery created nothing against the exciting Liverpool-native Trent Alexander-Arnold, Manuel Neuer made a crucial mistake for Liverpool’s first goal, and Robert Lewandowski was anonymous for 90 minutes. Three previous superstars who today showed that, against one of the best squads in the world, they have too little to offer. This may seem like a harsh observation, but an elite club like Bayern expects more of its key players in the most important game of the season.

Just like against Real Madrid in Bayern’s last Champions League campaign, Lewandowski again failed to score in two vital games. Admittedly, Lewandowski received little to work with from his teammates against Liverpool — but standards should be raised when evaluating the performance of the highest foreign goalscorer in the Bundesliga.

And another disturbingly familiar theme: after his long-term injury and his poor World Cup, Bayern Munich’s captain Manuel Neuer has simply not been the same player. He can still be a world-class keeper, but today he again committed a mistake that gave Mané the first crucial goal.

Lastly, and unsurprisingly, Ribery has obviously seen his best years. The Frenchmen and Bayern legend featured in the starting eleven today primarily due to Kingsley Coman’s recent recovery from yet another injury. Yet, it does not change the fact that he was nullified by Alexander-Arnold, 15 years his junior. Coman himself also disappointed in his half-hour performance.

Other observations:

Javi Martinez was, in my view, Bayern’s best player on the pitch before he was subbed off. He fought hard on the defensive end on the pitch, making crucial tackles throughout the game. He was subbed off only out of desperation when Bayern was already 1-2 down.

— The Bayern ultras deserve an 11 out of 10 today. The team enjoyed fantastic support from them until the final whistle. Half of Madrid’s fans left the stadium before the final whistle during their game against Ajax. The Bayern ultra’s never stopped singing. Makes you proud to be a Bayern fan.

There is always next year. Mia San Mia!

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