Nagelsmann’s Bayern presses like a beast
From the get-go, this Bayern Munich side looked ruthless. Exploiting every inch of space, pressing in units, attacking with numbers... it is not surprising that Nagelsmann Bayern has scored more goals in the first nine games of the Bundesliga than any team in history. The most notable difference between Nagelsmann’s gegenpressing and Flick’s gegenpressing is that Nagelsmann Bayern’s counter-press is smarter, the players commit in well-orchestrated bunches and they are very efficient at occupying half-spaces. This means that a higher percentage of turnovers lead to key chances, and that could explain Bayern’s ruthlessness in front of goal. That, and the amazing form of the Bayern attack.
Midfield dominates, Sabitzer solid
Bayern’s midfield pairing had a great outing this game. Many had their doubts regarding the Kimmitzer midfield pivot, considering Sabitzer’s recent performances haven’t given a glimpse of his Leipzig self, but he looked really good today. Sabitzer’s physicality, passing ability, and ball distribution were all on display today. Kimmich was great as usual and helped with defensive duties and ball progression. His passing accuracy of 85% was particularly impressive, considering most of his passes were long balls and through balls to the attacking third.
Overall, a very industrious performance from the midfield duo. This bodes really well for Sabitzer’s starting chances moving forward.
Another stellar performance by the Bayern defense, another clean sheet
Bayern’s defense was the standout department today. And boy, were the defenders stellar. Omar Richards, who received a start courtesy of Davies’ muscle injury, was really good on both ends of the pitch. Superb with his defensive contributions (tackles, interceptions) and nifty with his dribbles, he was a force to be reckoned with on the left flank. He’d have been today’s best defender, had it not been for a certain Lucas Hernandez, who was arguably the best player on the pitch till he was subbed off. Lucas is in the form of his life right now, and he put in yet another stellar shift, making vital blocks, tackles, and interceptions and not giving the Hoffenheim forwards any chance.
Dayot Upamecano held his own on the right side, chipping in with a beautiful assist and some amazing defensive plays. And Benjamin Pavard, well... he was actually pretty solid. It was an encouraging performance from the Frenchman, who hasn’t really done himself any favors lately with his performances on the pitch and his interviews off of it. Today’s game should give his confidence a boost.
Robert Lewandowski is the world’s best player, and I suppose even the best in the business can be granted an off day sometimes. An off day that includes an amazing long-range rocket, that is. Lewandowski’s goal was the highlight of the game, but he missed 3 good chances to put the ball into the back of the net, which is... unusual, to say the least.
However, he was his usual self on other parts of the pitch, dropping deep to receive the ball, carrying the ball upwards, creating chances (including an amazing backheel that Sané should really have done better with), and creating space for his teammates.
About the goalscoring chances, this could’ve just been a case of fatigue, or perhaps the pressure to score more goals (we know how hard he is on himself). Either way, it’s hard to imagine that he’d miss chances like these in future fixtures.
I have a hunch that Nagelsmann was once again behind Bayern’s substitutions... maybe he was on a Zoom call with Dino Topmöller because one characteristic of his coaching this season has been the instant positive impact of the substitutions. Today, Choupo Moting bagged a goal after coming on (something that we’re used to seeing from the trustworthy backup striker) and Kingsley Coman added another after coming on as well.
This feature of this Bayern side will be crucial heading into the more difficult stretches of the season. Nagelsmann’s ability to change the dynamic of the game with a few substitutions will be valuable against difficult opposition.
For now, Bayern Munich is the team to beat in Europe.