With Bayern having all but confirmed the leadership of Group A with their 4th win in 4 matches with a 3-1 victory over RB Salzburg, all eyes are looking forward. Here are the observations from the match and what they might mean looking forward.
Man, do FC Bayern sorely, and I mean sorely miss Joshua Kimmich. This team simply is not even close to the same without him. Even though RB Salzburg’s sole goal was controversial (more on that later on), Bayern would’ve given up more goals if it was not for Manuel Neuer being Manuel Neuer.
Alaba and Boateng looked slow and at times gave away sloppy turnovers; Pavard was up and down all game, whilst Chris Richards had a solid albeit somewhat forgettable Champions League debut. With Süle dealing with fitness issues and Davies still injured, the depth of defense is precariously thin and Bayern must be looking for more cohesiveness with its defense moving forward.
What superlatives are left for Manuel Neuer? He quite literally kept Bayern from drawing - or worse, losing - this match vs RB Salzburg. He had multiple notable saves, but none were as excellent as this one:
Manuel Neuer save vs Salzburg. We will never see someone like him ever again. pic.twitter.com/TK234nlTl9— Der Kaiser™️ (@DerKaiserBM) November 25, 2020
Don’t @ me when I say Manuel Neuer has re-established himself as the Number 1 goalkeeper in the world again at the ripe age of 34. He is rightfully Der Kapitän and today was just another set of highlight worthy saves.
VAR, I would like a word
Let’s put all other aspects of the game aside for the simple reason that if it was not for VAR getting the ruling wrong, FC Bayern would’ve had another clean sheet. Whether it was deserved or not is up for debate (*ahem* Neuer), but VAR was clearly wrong in awarding Mergim Berisha the goal in the 73’ minute.
VAR has had its up and downs. But for a goal check to last north of 3 minutes and still get the call wrong, is concerning to say the least.
Lucky Reds Advance
All things considered, Bayern were also extremely fortunate to advance. Just check the xG map for this match:
xG map for Bayern Munich - RB Salzburg— Caley Graphics (@Caley_graphics) November 25, 2020
yeah I have no idea how Salzburg only scored one either pic.twitter.com/VVhKIbbMVo
Yeah. This match was the textbook definition of ball luck. Not only was their 2nd goal a RB Salzburg own goal, but also Lewandowski was able to put the first goal into the back of the net due to a fortunate bounce right in front of him. Yes, I am aware football is all about “right place right time”, but in all honesty, Bayern shouldn’t have won this game. Yet, that is the hallmark of a great team, not a good team. Winning games when playing bad and when you’re not supposed to. While there are valid concerns regarding form and depth at Bayern, we are onto the round of 16. So for now, we celebrate and hope we get reinforcements soon.