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Five observations from Bayern Munich’s 3-1 DFB-Pokal victory over Energie Cottbus

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Bayern Munich systematically wore down Energie Cottbus in a DFB-Pokal showdown.

Energie Cottbus v FC Bayern Muenchen - DFB Cup Photo by Matthias Kern/Bongarts/Getty Images

It might have taken a while to get going, but Bayern Munich eventually solved Energie Cottbus’ stingy defense and pulled out a convincing 3-1 victory. Below are some observations on the match:

Coman was electric

Kingsley Coman’s performance against Energie Cottbus is exactly what you want to see from the shifty 23-year-old. Coman was explosive with his movements, tricky with his footwork, and constantly finding creative ways to streak to the net. He could have easily had a brace or even a hat trick with a little luck. When healthy, Coman is absolutely tantalizing and his abbreviated performance today was just more evidence of how important he is to Bayern Munich this season.

The midfield logjam is a battle of attrition

With Thiago Alcantara cemented as an every game starter, Niko Kovac flanked him with Renato Sanches and Corentin Tolisso in a 4-3-3 line-up to start the game today. That grouping often morphed into varying looks as the players exercised some positional freedom in the middle of the field against an over-matched opponent.

Tolisso just does not look like himself at the moment — and that should be expected given the grind he has had in rehabbing over the past year. This DFB-Pokal tilt was the perfect time to see what the 25-year-old could do across a full game and it was not always smooth. While his effort was there, Tolisso just was not as fearless as we are used to seeing. The more he is out there, though, the better he will get as he regains his form from a devastating knee injury.

Renato Sanches was a bit of a roller coaster to watch. Initially, Sanches struggled with turnovers and poor decisions, which have periodically plagued him at times throughout the course of his career at Bayern. Then, at other moments, Sanches looked like a driving force that Energie Cottbus could not handle. Overall, though, I am just not sure that Sanches is doing enough to justify being a regular.

Leon Goretzka’s successful cameo resulted in a goal that was credited to him—then given to Robert Lewandowski—then given back to Goretzka, who had a very good preseason campaign. Regardless, Goretzka provided a great spark when he entered that came has made a strong claim to be one of the starting midfielders in Friday’s Bundesliga opener against Hertha Berlin. And while Goretzka’s performance was extremely solid, his hair was in Hall of Fame form:

Seriously, though, with Javi Martinez injured and Kovac seemingly set on playing a 4-3-3 (which still does not appear to be the best alignment for Bayern Munich’s talent...see more below), the coach is going to have to start figuring out who he can trust when the stakes are higher.

Energie Cottbus v FC Bayern Muenchen - DFB Cup
Kingsley Coman turned in quite an effort to help pace Bayern Munich.
Photo by Matthias Kern/Bongarts/Getty Images

Lewandowski was pure energy

The Polish Hitman turned in a very solid performance and looks like he’s got a great feel for working with those surrounding him thus far. Sure, there were moments of visible frustration when he did not get a pass that he thought he should have, but he was a nightmare for Energie Cottbus to handle and just draws so much attention that his presence alone will create numerous chances this season for players like Goretzka, Coman, Serge Gnabry, and Thomas Muller.

Hoppe was impressive for Energie Cottbus

19-year-old outside back Marcel Hoppe was thoroughly impressive for Energie Cottbus. Hoppe displayed some blazing speed and provided some dangerous looks as he frustrated Bayern on multiple occasions. Energie Cottbus’ strategy was clear in that they wanted to stay compact, jumble the box for Bayern, and minimize damage, but when Hoppe got a chance to show his talent, the youngster did well to take on some of Bayern’s top players.

The 4-3-3 is still not convincing

Without filing a formal declaration of war on this topic, Kovac’s preferred alignment still has not yielded optimal results. Regardless of who plays and how they are aligned, it just feels like — and looks like — Bayern Munich would be set up better in a 4-2-3-1.

People may jump to the conclusion that this observation is an attempt to jam some Muller-related agenda down your throat, but assuredly it is not. The defense looks far more susceptible to counter-attacks in the 4-3-3 and we have seen more than enough evidence to know that counters have the potential to be Bayern’s true Achilles Heel this season. I’d prefer to see Kovac revert back to a more stable and functional formation for this roster. With the league race expected to be tight among some very talented squads, Bayern might not have time for much on-the-job-training as the team continues to adjust to the intricacies of the 4-3-3 alignment.

I’m all for positional versatility and the team having the ability to shift between formations to whatever is needed against a particular opponent, but this still just feels like Kovac is trying to fit a square peg into a round hole and appears to be completely unnecessary.