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Five observations from Bayern’s gripping 3-2 victory over Paderborn

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3-2 again? Déjà-vu much? Bayern’s victory against Paderborn told two contrasting tales: persistence wins you games, while negligence can make them slip out of your hands just as quickly.

FC Bayern Muenchen v SC Paderborn 07 - Bundesliga
Bayern players celebrate Lewandowski’s goal.
Photo by Roland Krivec/DeFodi Images via Getty Images

Bayern’s emphatic victory over Paderborn sees them go top of the table by a margin of four points for the time being. In what was a very nervy opening half, Bayern scored after building up pressure via their attacking outlets, only for Paderborn to equalize after a rare gaffe by Neuer shortly before halftime.

In the second half, Paderborn came out guns blazing, but a brace by familiar hero Robert Lewandowski ended what was a nail-biting game in Bayern’s favour. Here are five observations from the game:

Odriozola not on Bayern’s level yet

Bayern Munich right-back loanee Alvaro Odriozola, signed for the remainder of the season from Real Madrid as a depth option, did not display much in this game to warrant more starts. His runs were a tad late all the time, his passing wasn’t up to Bayern’s standards, and he just didn’t click with the rest of the team. After his substitution and Kimmich’s move to right-back, the entire team gained composure and their play was more stable. Yes, Odriozola showed glimpses of potential, with good ball control and a few nice flicks, but to feature consistently for Bayern, a higher standard of performances is a must.

There is nothing Thiago can’t do

Thiago, Bayern’s midfield magician, is having something of a resurgence under coach Hansi Flick. Since the start of the Rückrunde, the Spaniard has looked a different player, seemingly back to his 2016-18 self. Great through-balls, balls over the top, good one-two’s in the final third, and some exquisite skills to send defenders scrambling — this man did it all today. Bayern will soon decided whether to offer Thiago an extension before he enters the final year of his current contract. As things stand, he looks like a shoo-in.

If Thiago’s form continues, Bayern will inevitably win every midfield battle in both Germany and Europe in the games to come. And Chelsea’s in for it first.

Robert Lewandowski’s passing is massively underrated

The goal-scoring machine has arguably been Bayern’s most important player this season. Yep, he scores goals like there’s no tomorrow, but one facet of his game that is hugely overlooked is his passing ability. Lewandowski’s delightful flicks in the final third, some devastating through-balls for Gnabry and Mueller that arguably should’ve been goals, and some great one-two’s with his teammates made him sparkle during the game. Maybe, just maybe, if the team can gel during the training sessions, we might see the Pole rack a significant number of assists, too, by season’s end.

This could be Tolisso’s last season at Bayern Munich

Bayern’s attacking midfield role belongs to Thomas Müller for the time being. Leon Goretzka is second in line for a possible start in the attacking midfield from next season, provided Coutinho returns to Barcelona and Bayern don’t sign Havertz. Therefore, the only place in the lineup where Tholisso can expect to fight for a spot is in central midfield. Unfortunately, Bayern already have the world’s best central midfielder on current form, Thiago, manning the position. Kimmich is also here to stay, making the defensive midfielder role his own with each passing game. Add Goretzka into the mix, who will also get his fair share of starts at center-mid, along with Fein and Cuisance, who will be gunning for minutes next season, and you have Tolisso on the outside looking in.

If Tolisso wants to stay and start games, he must raise the quality of his performances. True, he was pretty tidy in central midfield today, but the question is what he can additionally offer that can be an argument for a starting spot, which is very difficult to see at the moment. If he cannot turn up in the minutes he gets, then he’ll have to face the harsh reality and leave to some other club where he may get to start more often.

Another goalkeeper shows up big time against Bayern

I cannot stress this point enough: playing against Bayern tends to bring out the best in the opposition goalkeepers, and today was no exception. Munich native and Bayern academy product Leopold Zingerle stopped at least 5 surefire goals today. He frustrated Lewandowski, Gnabry, and later Coman with his outstanding saves and exquisite positioning. Maybe Bayern have to factor this possibility before every game and prepare to take shots in more clinical fashion... I don’t know. Maybe more direct play and better placed shots might do the trick. Either way, appreciation where it’s due — Zingerle put in a Neueresque performance today.