Had it not been for a handful of Manuel Neuer saves and a few fluffed chances from Union Berlin, Bayern Munich could’ve left the Stadion An der Alten Försterei empty handed.
Ultimately, the Bavarians labored to a 1-1 draw on a bitter evening in Köpenick. It’s Bayern Munich’s second consecutive draw in the Bundesliga, coming off of the 3-3 thriller against RB Leipzig at the Allianz Arena, but they are still ahead of Die Roten Bullen in the table with a slightly better goal differential.
Speaking after the 1-1 draw, Hansi Flick highlighted the opening stages of the first half as Bayern’s worst period of the match (FCBayern.com). Bayern, he said, just was never really able to put Union Berlin under any sort of pressure as they always like to do to their opponents.
“The first few minutes we were not present on the pitch as we had wanted to be. We could have defended better when we conceded the goal, without question,” said Flick. “When the first ball becomes dangerous, our composure is not there. We played the safe pass or a long ball. I wasn’t too happy with that. We addressed that during the break. We wanted to play with more composure and occupy space better in the second half, to have men over. I was more satisfied with the second half. We can definitely play better. Our idea is to put the opponent under pressure. Today we weren’t able to implement it as we had planned. It will be a difficult season, we knew that in advance. Now we have to take the positives from the situation and improve on the things that didn’t go so well.”
Neuer wasn’t as critical of his side’s performance, despite how many saves he was forced to make. The keeper highlighted the plethora of counter attacks that Bayern gave away as one of the main problem areas. For the amount of counters Union Berlin sprung, they easily could’ve scored more than once.
“We didn’t look so good in one or two situations and gave away goal-scoring opportunities. But we could also have scored at the death and come away with a 2-1 win,” said Neuer. “You can concede a goal through a set piece. But I think there were too many counterattacks against us. We have to be careful for the next games. Union are a difficult team to play against. As a goalkeeper, it’s always annoying when you concede goals.”
Thomas Müller admitted that most of Bayern’s problems against Berlin were a direct result from their own mistakes. Sloppy passes, getting beat on the high line, and cheaply giving away possession far too often allowed too many chances for Berlin to go on the front foot.
“We’ve often gone a goal down recently. It happened very early today. Union fought hard and played man-to-man,” Müller explained. “We made life difficult for ourselves, especially in the first 20 minutes. We need momentum again and to bounce back again. We have the quality, mentally too, but of course it just happens that we not winning but rather drawing matches. It feels too little given our ambitions.”
Injuries and rotations haven’t made life any easier for Bayern, but as Flick, Neuer, and Müller alluded to, they need to simply cut out the mistakes that invite their opponents to get chances to punish Bayern.
The brief winter pause might be exactly what Bayern needs at this juncture after an English week to close out the Hinrunde with difficult tests against VfL Wolfsburg and then Bayer Leverkusen.