Bayern Munich did everything right except passes in the final third in the first half. In the second half, however, the substitution of Serge Gnabry got things going and Bayern came out 2-0 winners, in a game which ultimately meant nothing to them.
Without further ado, here are the observations:
Problems in the final third are perhaps a reflection of the lack of consistency
Bayern came out like they needed to win tonight to qualify, but, unfortunately, nothing was coming off in the final third. Douglas Costa and Bouna Sarr tried and tried again but nothing came off and expectedly so. Leroy Sane was particularly guilty of overthinking in the final third although, he, by no means, had a bad night. It was perhaps one of his better nights as a starter when he tracked back multiple times and tried to make things happen from distance.
Overall, the lack of consistency due to the schedule is why the issues in the final third are happening. Hansi Flick has to change things repeatedly to get players enough rest and sometimes, that leads to nights like today’s first half performance in the final third.
Alphonso Davies hasn’t lost his pace nor his enthusiasm
Phonzie is back! And he is as fast as ever! Much like the remainder of the team, not too much was coming off for him in the final third in the first half but, we saw the energy and the pace that we associate with Phonzie. One positive for me was that despite David Alaba not being in the team tonight, Phonzie was solid enough defensively. If Alaba, his mentor, is indeed set to leave, Phonzie will need to be solid defensively without guidance.
Marc Roca is quietly wonderful
Marc Roca knows a thing or two about positioning himself properly. He keeps it simple and spreads play as needed. More importantly, he seems to have an understanding with Leon Goretzka — they did not get in each other’s way and Roca completed 93% of his passes tonight. I hope Flick allows Roca to develop in that role; while he did not need to play under high stress tonight as Lokomotiv mostly defended, I believe he can do so if he is ever needed to deputize for either Joshua Kimmich or Goretzka.
Serge Gnabry changed the game; Jamal Musiala had an impact as well
What Bayern could not do in the final third, Gnabry came and started doing. He played three key passes and turbo charged the offense. He also had his shooting boots on, luckily, for us today. There have been question marks over Gnabry lately; however, this team is better with Gnabry than without. His work rate is tremendous and he defends very well, giving it his all in every performance. Jamal Musiala is a fighter; he fights for every ball and his energy is infectious. His work rate seems to impact the entire team around him as well.
Jerome Boateng and Niklas Süle worked well together tonight
We wondered on Saturday whether Boateng and Süle knew each other, given their performances. Today, they cleaned up well at the back; considering that Lokomotiv was playing on the counterattack and Manuel Neuer barely had to come out of his goal to clean up, it was a good night for the duo. Süle got a well-deserved goal to his name as well!
So, there you have it! A special shoutout to Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting for getting his first Champions League goal for Bayern. Thank you for reading!