Bayern Munich grew into the game
After more than three weeks away from the game, the rust was apparent as Bayern Munich took to the pitch against Olympique de Marseille. Hansi Flick put out the expected lineup, with Joshua Kimmich moving to right-back to replace the injured Benjamin Pavard. Ivan Perisic was the only surprise in the XI, starting in place of Kingsley Coman.
The Bavarians picked up where they left off, pressing Marseille high up the pitch and forcing turnovers. The team clearly lacked sharpness at first, allowing the French side to move the ball quickly and exploit gaps in Bayern’s counter-press. However, Marseille’s chances dried up as the game progressed, and Hansi Flick’s boys started to shake off the rust from a long break.
Thiago Alcantara and Leon Goretzka showed that they still remember how to play with each other. Slightly out of sync at first, the duo tightened up the timing of their tackles and started to play off each other as the game wore on. This had a knock-on effect on the rest of the team, as it allowed Bayern to press even higher up the pitch and slowly increase the pressure on Marseille. Overall, the French side barely got a sniff of goal after the Bavarians got into gear.
David Alaba played like he’s worth €20m a year
The most impressive performance of the match arguably belongs to David Alaba. The Austrian played like he hadn’t missed a beat, doing the work of a center-back, a defensive midfielder, and a left-back all at once. His presence gave Bayern the option to move Ivan Perisic closer to the center, while Alphonso Davies moved higher up the pitch as a pseudo left winger. The pressure generated as a result was suffocating, allowing Bayern to push Marseille deep into their own half.
This was a potentially risky move, as Marseille had the pacey Florian Thauvin playing on that side of the pitch. However, Alaba’s clever positioning and Phonzie’s pace kept the 27-year-old winger very quiet.
This was a strong statement game from the Austrian, who seemed to be playing at a higher level of sharpness than his colleagues. With news of ongoing contract negotiations circling in the media, as well as links to Barcelona, one has to wonder if this is Alaba’s way of saying “I deserve 20 million a year.” If he plays like this in the Champions League, he may be right.
Ivan Perisic remains frustrating
On the other end of the spectrum, we have Ivan Perisic, who continues to be disappointing as a Bayern winger. The veteran Croatian struggled to generate quality chances in attack, squandering what little good he did because of a lack of control or a lack of pace. When Kingsley Coman came on for him in the second half, the left side of Bayern’s attack was instantly revitalized.
If these performances continue, it’s highly likely that Perisic will be shipped back to Inter Milan after the season ends.
Joshua Kimmich is still a great right-back
It’s been a year since he last played the position, but Joshua Kimmich is still a great right-back. Coming in for the injured Benjamin Pavard, Kimmich showed what happens when you match Hansi Flick’s aggressive press with an offense-oriented right-back. The 25-year-old terrorized Marseille down his flank, providing width and a level of offensive pressure that Pavard simply doesn’t offer. The Frenchman’s injury was a blow to Bayern Munich, but Kimmich’s talent proves that it need not be a knockout punch.
Bayern’s attack lacked penetration
For all the good done by Bayern’s attack and defense in the game, the Bavarians’ offense still lacked penetration. Thomas Muller and Robert Lewandowski struggled to get involved. The two were responsible for only a handful of chances in the time they spent on the pitch. Granted, Marseille really packed the box with defenders, but Bayern seemed to lack something in the way of offensive linkups and incisive passing in the final third.
This could just be a case of the rust showing, though. Overall, the team still managed to create a plethora of chances and might have created more if Coman had started instead of Perisic. Serge Gnabry’s goal was also a beauty, and there were a couple of chances (one by Muller and the other by Davies) near the end of the first half that were really close to going in.
Overall, the game can be summarized as a tuneup, and it certainly looked like one. Bayern Munich will now focus on the upcoming game against Chelsea in a week’s time, where everything will be at stake. Let’s hope Hansi grinds out that last little bit of rust in the coming training sessions, so the team plays at its best in the Champions League.