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Five observations from Bayern Munich’s thrilling 3-2 win over Borussia Dortmund

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Bayern Munich go top of the table despite conceding goals at a record breaking rate.

Borussia Dortmund v FC Bayern Muenchen - Bundesliga Photo by Friedemann Vogel - Pool/Getty Images

Defensive woes nearly cost Bayern Munich

With a number of absentees plaguing a roster, Hansi Flick was forced to start a back line that was never going to cut it against Borussia Dortmund. Lucas Hernandez was the only player with real pace on the side, and he showed himself as the best defender on the night. The Frenchman keept his flank tightly secure until the final half-hour of the match, keeping things under wraps until Dortmund subbed fresh legs on.

Buona Sarr was the real weak point in the Bavarian defense. Coming in for the injured Benjamin Pavard, the former Marseille man was targeted by the BVB midfielders with long balls. Lucien Favre must’ve realized that without Niklas Sule, the space behind the right-back would leave Bayern vulnerable to BVB’s pacey forwards like Erling Haaland and Gio Reyna. The tactic paid dividends, as Sarr’s positioning repeatedly exposed Bayern on the flank, with Jerome Boateng only just able to keep things in check with some last ditch defending and good physicality.

With Benjamin Pavard in doubt and Alphonso Davies out for another month (at the least), Hansi Flick will have some hard choices to make over the international break. Right now, Bayern have been able to outscore every opponent so far (with the exception of Hoffenheim). However, the team is conceding goals at an unsustainable rate. In addition, the xG for the game favored Dortmund by a decent margin:

Looking at that, you could make the argument that Bayern got a little lucky with the win. Let’s be honest, relying on guys like Robert Lewandowski to outperform your xG isn’t a winning tactic. If Hansi Flick wants to repeat the treble, the bleeding needs to stop.

Success — but at what cost?

Borussia Dortmund v FC Bayern Muenchen - Bundesliga
Losing Kimmich is a huge blow to Bayern.
Photo by Martin Meissner - Pool/Getty Images

Bayern Munich beat Borussia Dortmund to go top of the table, but lost Joshua Kimmich in the process. With Thiago Alcantara’s departure, Kimmich was the only proven deep-lying midfielder in the squad. Now, as he is projected to miss weeks (or even months) with a knee injury, Hansi Flick has some serious issues on his hands.

The coach has no choice but to resort to youngsters. Over the international break, Tanguy Nianzou and Marc Roca will have to be brought up to speed on Bayern’s playstyle and tactics, so that they can slot in for Kimmich as needed. While the pivot of Leon Goretzka and Corentin Tolisso did its job this time, it’s not a long term solution as the two players are not the same type of player Kimmich is.

If Josh is out for a significant period of time, the rest of Bayern’s season will be a struggle. Not only he irreplaceable as a player, his personality on the pitch drives the team on in a way that no other player (save maybe Thomas Muller) can match. For Bayern’s sake, let’s hope the injury isn’t too serious.

Jadon Sancho is no big game player

This is technically not a Bayern-centric observation, but it’s relevant to the game and an interesting discussion nonetheless. Jadon Sancho ended the game with 0 goals and 0 assists, managing only 1 dribble and 1 key pass before being subbed for Julian Brandt. While he had the tough task of being marked Lucas Hernandez, the Englishman is starting to develop a pattern of not showing up for the very biggest games.

Here are Sancho’s big game stats from last season.

  • 1 goal and 1 assist in 2 games vs RB Leipzig.
  • 0 goals and 0 assists in 2 games vs Bayern Munich.
  • 1 goal in 2 games vs Barcelona.
  • 1 assist in 2 games vs Inter.
  • 0 goals and 0 assists in 2 games versus PSG.
  • 0 goals and 0 assists in any of BVB’s 3 Pokal games.

You be the judge. BVB were demanding around 120m euros from Manchester United for Sancho’s signature this summer. Is that the impact of a 120m euro man?

Leroy Sane settling into his “joker” role

While Leroy Sane might not be starting games, he’s found a pretty nice niche at Bayern Munich. Against both Salzburg and Dortmund, Flick’s had the 24-year-old come on for Kingsley Coman, after allowing German to run at a defense that had already been softened up by the Frenchman.

Sane is a little bit different from Coman, in that he eschews raw pace for a little bit more finesse, especially in and around the box. This small difference can make all the difference in the dying stages of the game, where defenders who had gotten used to Coman’s rhythm over the 70 minutes are immediately thrown off by an injection of pace and trickery. Bayern’s new #10 has scored twice as a substitute in his last two games, with both goals coming at crucial stages in the match. Both goals were very Robbenesque, with Sane cutting inside to shoot past the keeper with his left foot.

While the bosses probably didn’t pay Manchester City €50m for a supersub, Hansi Flick seems to have found a winning formula with Sane’s current role. Maybe we’ll see it continue in big games — injuries permitting, of course.

Bayern’s mentality remains intact

Hansi Flick and the boys can pat themselves on the back for a job well done, as the team leads both the Bundesliga and its UCL group two months into the new season. This latest round of fixtures was especially impressive, as the team just played four away games in two weeks, while constantly losing players to either injury or covid.

Bayern Munich have also come back from a deficit two games in a row now, with both Salzburg and BVB scoring first. While allowing teams to score isn’t a good sign, the fact that the team is able to fight back under these conditions is seriously impressive. This is part of the belief that Hansi Flick has instilled in Bayern, and hopefully it lasts for a long time. It’s this kind of mentality that makes champions.