Bayern Munich completely destroyed Bayern Leverkusen to sit atop the Bundesliga table with a point lead over Borussia Dortmund. The fluidity of the Bayern players saw them move around into different positions and cover up for one another. If I may say so, this is Nagelsmann’s own total football, ladies and gentlemen. The Bavarians completely outplayed their opposition to get a huge lead early on before easing up to conserve energy and attack in phases. Julian Nagelsmann finally made substitutions without waiting for the final ten minutes and this game can set the standard on how Nags sees squad rotation.
A relentless Bayern press
Bayern’s press under Nags today was hitting the gold standard. The number of players pressing non-stop and giving Leverkusen no space whatsoever was a sight to behold with the 6th minute being the peak pressing sequence. Bayern won a whopping 16 tackles and the only space Leverkusen had for most of the game was between their defenders and their goalkeeper. That’s how tight Bayern kept it today.
There was no distinction between attackers or defenders — when out of possession Bayern were a side of 11 defenders hounding the opposition to recover the ball. Mind you, the Werkself have some silky feet among their ranks and to shut up shop against them really speaks about the Bayern defense today.
The only downside to this style of play is of course fatigue. Bayern have to pace themselves to sustain this style and carry it through the length of the season. Fatigue’s impact can really multiply if it’s coupled with a reluctance to rotate — something that Nagelsmann has shown so far. Having said that, he did bring Davies off before 40 minutes and made more subs later on, so we are yet to see what really is Nags’ long term rotation policy.
Magical Lewy and Magical Bayern
Robert Lewandowski once again showed why he is the best number 9 in the world. His two goals were a result of exceptional positioning and slick finishing. Coming at the end of great stretches of play, those early stylish goals made a statement to the opposition. The first goal, a delicious flick, showed the 33 year-old’s critics how lethal he can be and steal goals from near impossible situations.
Leading from the front in defense as well, Lewy was intrinsically involved in the Bayern press as usual and willing to drift wide and enable his wingers to get into dangerous positions in the box. This will be another dimension that can aid Bayern against teams with tighter defenses.
The Bavarians’ attack and movement was sublime and fluid. Creating 4 big chances, Bayern’s transition from defense to attack and back to defense gave little time for Leverkusen to adjust and caught them off guard relatively often. This performance and hunger was totally unexpected coming back from an international break.
Leverkusen left without answers
Losing a game 1-5 at home is as ugly as it can get. However, it wasn’t as though Leverkusen were particularly bad. Their own press was up to the mark as they made it extremely difficult for Bayern to get away after winning the ball. Florian Wirtz, Kerem Demirbay, Moussa Diaby and co. are all elusive players who are capable of splitting open teams to create chances. However, Bayern completely outdid die Werkself on every front and left Leverkusen with no answers.
Parking the bus seemed to be the only way to stop the Bayern barrage but since that isn’t Leverkusen’s style, it wasn’t until after the hour mark that Bayern turned down the intensity of their attack and effectively the intensity of the game. A slip up in the 55th minute saw Leverkusen get a rare chance that was finished superbly by Patrick Schick denying the visitors their clean sheet.