No outfield starters from the German NT
Bayern Munich manager Hansi Flick didn’t reveal anything regarding the matchday lineup during the presser, simply teasing that he “has a plan.” But what no one expected, was to see no German outfield players in the starting lineup. Leroy Sané, Serge Gnabry, and Leon Goretzka manned the bench, while Niklas Süle wasn’t in the matchday squad.
Die Mannschaft didn’t do themselves any favors with an atrocious showing against Spain, but this was a pretty big decision from the coach, perhaps showing that the players might need some time/rest after the hectic international fixture schedule.
However, one might wonder whether the situation would’ve been different had Sané and/or Gnabry started. Both looked sharp for five minutes after coming in at the hour mark, but slowly faded away. Sané in particular was at times strolling on the pitch like a tourist on a warm sunny afternoon at the Piazzale Donatello, and definitely needs to fight more for the ball. There was a lack of passion during the closing stages of the game, like the players felt there was no point in fighting for a win. Flick might have to address this in the locker room.
An interesting idea from coach Flick
Bayern started the game in what could be best described as a 4-1-4-1 formation, with Javi playing the role of ‘destroyer’ and Thomas Müller and Jamal Musiala overloading the offense. The plan seemed to be working during the first 15 minutes, since Flick essentially omitted the midfield, putting more players up front to put pressure on the opposition defenders and create a numerical advantage while ensuring that Max Eggestein, Kevin Möhwald and Leonardo Bittencourt didn’t have any midfield “battle” to look forward to.
After Lucas Hernandez’s early exit due to injury, Goretzka had to be subbed in, and David Alaba moved to left-back, with Javi playing as a center-back. Bayern’s plan crumbled as a result and Werder suddenly started to find themselves on the front foot, venturing forward more often, with Bayern losing defensive stability and structure.
Bittencourt raced up and down the right side (Bayern’s left), and Alaba didn’t have a great defensive outing, which led to several nervy moments where Manuel Neuer heroics and some solid defending from Goretzka proved to be the saving grace.
Lewandowski is an underrated midfielder
Robert Lewandowski was Bayern’s best attacker tonight. I lost count of the huge number of chances he created, with his beautiful flicks, superb dummies and great through-balls. More often than not, he found himself in the midfield today, trying to initiate attacks and carry the ball forward. The wingers didn’t have a great game, and Müller was uncharacteristically quiet, so the striker really worked his socks off to try and force a way through.
This might mean that Lewandowski might require rest (however crazy that sounds) with fixtures coming thick and fast. We can only assume he will work just as hard every game, and that definitely takes a toll on your physique. Here’s to hoping Joshua Kimmich returns to the pitch soon, to take control of the midfield once again.
Somebody needs to write a romance novel about Bayern and injuries
Seriously, this is getting annoying. Another season, another injury crisis. Bayern players are dropping like flies, and today Lucas joined a growing list of injured Bayern players - Kimmich, Alphonso Davies, and Corentin Tolisso are already down, and options are suddenly getting slim for coach Flick. No matter how many depth players Bayern sign, the team always manages to find itself in a situation where bench players and reserves are forced to make regular appearances.
The loss of Kimmich and Davies has been a HUGE blow to the team, and Lucas’ possible inclusion means that Alaba would be forced to play at LB, stretching the defense thin. We can expect Tanguy Nianzou to get his first Bayern start soon, and the same can be said about Marc Roca, although why he didn’t feature at all today remains a mystery.
Where would we be without Neuer?
Yeah, that is a rhetorical question. It’s best if we don’t think about the answer to that, but Neuer was nothing short of incredible today, as usual. Without him, we would definitely have conceded two more goals. He looked very sharp, made some brilliant saves and had two sublime sweeper-keeper moments. It is true that we take him for granted, and in a game where the defenders failed to impress (with the exception of Javi), Neuer came in clutch. Alexander Nübel is probably frustrated, witnessing this every single game.