Initial reactions and observations
- Without Thomas Muller, Bayern Munich’s midfield falls apart. Kimmich and Goretzka are great on their own, but without the Raumdeuter in front of them, their ability to press and dominate the middle is very limited. Just goes to show how important he is.
- Lucas Hernandez had a pretty poor outing at left back. Coming off for Phonzie at the hour mark must’ve hurt. However, it was the right decision by Flick, as the Canadian added far more to the game than the Frenchman did.
- Not a great performance by Serge Gnabry today. He needed to do more with the chances he got, and in terms of creativity he was lacking.
- Zirkzee is a good backup striker, but it’s obvious what he lacks compared to Lewandowski. The Dutchman may be huge, but he’s just a kid and doesn’t have the sheer strength to hold off defenders like Lewy does on a regular basis. His opportunistic goal from Sommer’s mistake may have won Bayern all three points though, which is a job well done for someone so young.
- Michael Cuisance actually had a good outing. Shame he didn’t convert a few of the chances that fell to him — would’ve been poetic to score against his former club.
Full time: Bayern 2-1 Gladbach.
86’ — GOAL!!!!! Leon Goretzka makes it 2-1! A great cross by Pavard is slotted in past the goalkeeper by Goretzka, who makes a run timed to perfection.
75’ — Wreidt comes in for Zirkzee, who’s had a very quiet second half.
60’ — SUBSTITUTIONS. Davies and Coman come in for Hernandez and Cuisance, respectively. Some much needed pace here to boost Bayern.
46’ — And the second half is underway!
Half time reactions and observations:
- Bayern’s attack REALLY missed Lewandowski and Mueller, the latter in particular. They didn’t have anyone managing things in the attacking third to provide that incisive pass or get things going quickly in the final third. Cuisance, and to a lesser extent Goretzka, tried to string together some sequences and through-balls but didn’t quite hit the mark.
- Gladbach is smothering Bayern in the midfield. The Bayern players are unable to progress the ball up the pitch with ease, which would be a perfect scenario to introduce a player like Thiago in — if he wasn’t out with a surgery. Gladbach’s midfield and defense are working together intelligently in groups of 3 and 4 to pressurize the Bayern players and cut out passing lanes.
- The defense, like the reverse fixture, was highly suspect. Boateng was largely solid, but both Alaba and Pavard had some very nervy moments. Pavard in particular summed it all up with an own goal, which wasn’t undeserved; the pressure had been building all along and it was only a matter of time before Gladbach found cracks in the defense and exploited them.
- Bayern’s attack lacked pace and muscle. Of course, Perisic is a gritty player, but a quicker, more elusive player like Coman would’ve found himself at the end of the chances created by the midfield, and possibly have done something productive. Lewandowski’s physicality up front was also sorely missed; Zirkzee was marked out very well by the Gladbach defense. He was silent for large portions of the first half.
45’ — HT. Not much else seen in terms of action from both sides as they head out before the second half.
37’ — OWN GOAL BAYERN! A dangerous cross is teased in by Hermann to cause problems, which Pavard slots into the back of the net past Neuer. Very poor defending.
25’ — BAYERN TAKE THE LEAD! A horrible pass from Jann Sommer finds Zirkzee, who strikes the ball first-time to slot it past the defender and into the net. Good finish.
16’ — Gladbach denied by VAR! Embolo sliced Bayern’s defense with a sumptuous ball for Hofmann, who slotted it coolly past Neuer. The video assistant made a good call and upturned an initial decision for a goal.
10’ — Marcus Thuram substituted out with an early knock. Breel Embolo takes his place up front in the attack.
7’ — Both teams still finding their bearings. A good move sees Gnabry teed wonderfully by Cuisance, but the former is not able to make it in time to do anything meaningful with the lay-off.
1’ — KICKOFF! And the boys are underway at the Allianz!
One hour until kickoff: Lineups are out! No Coman? What’s going on? Phonzie is benched too.
MATCHDAY! What a game we have on our hands, folks. The football gods thought Bayern Munich had it too easy in 2020, so they decided to throw us the ultimate curve ball. Facing 4th place Gladbach, our bogey team, WITHOUT the services of Robert Lewandowski, Thomas Muller, and Thiago Alcantara — Hansi Flick has quite a tough job on his hands.
The worst part is, the players who could have been good backups for the aforementioned absentees are also out. Corentin Tolisso can’t come in to replace Thiago, and Philippe Coutinho is unable to slot in for Thomas Muller. Fiete Arp is also injured, but at least the club has Joshua Zirkzee and Kwasi Wriedt as backups at the striker position.
Predicting the lineup is a nightmare, so head on over to our dedicated lineups article. We’re in for a tough one here, folks. Let’s hope the team can cope with the loss of its main players, and guys like Joshua Kimmich, Leon Goretzka, and David Alaba really step up to the plate.
It’s Bayern time.
Location: Allianz Arena, Munich, Germany
Time: 6:30 pm local time, 12:30 pm EST
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