Bayern Munich was handed their first defeat of the season in the Bundesliga, and who better than Eintracht Frankfurt to do it? What started as another game with an in-form Bayern Munich turned out to be a nightmare as Frankfurt stuck to their guns and eked out a historic win in the Allianz Arena that wasn’t completely undeserved.
Julian Nageslmann’s reluctance to rotate
Nagelsmann’s gotten a lot of things right of late with Bayern but squad rotation is definitely not one of them. Having a fixed core of players does bode well in terms of strengthening player chemistry and familiarity with playing with one another. However, rotation should never be taken lightly as ill managed loads will always come back to bite one’s behind.
Over the past 4-5 games, the only areas of rotation have been in defense and Serge Gnabry. Nagelsmann has, so far, stuck to a very rigid lineup and shown reluctance to rotate his players.
Players like Thomas Müller, Robert Lewandowski, Leroy Sané, Alphonso Davies, Lucas Hernandez, Joshua Kimmich and Leon Goretzka have been starting non-stop. They play brilliantly together; the beautiful individual movements and plethora of goals are a testament to their chemistry.
However, at the end of an intense week with a Champions League night involved, the effects of not rotating have started to show. Bayern uncharacteristically misplaced several passes. While on the surface, it looked like badly placed passes or a combination of good interceptions by Frankfurt, there was another factor it. Many of those passes were aimed at positions where Bayern players were supposed to have reached — which didn’t happen on several occasions. The same can be said of the Bayern defense, whose co-ordination was lacking today.
A combination of Frankfurt’s signature “hold the line” style of play with 11 men behind the ball and a Bayern side in need of some rest saw Bayern’s mobility get severely restricted, especially in dangerous areas. With an international break coming up, there doesn’t look like much rest is available for the Bayern core, unfortunaely.
Bayern’s Right back paradox
Niklas Süle is a wonderful and versatile defender. He’s 26 years old and his contract expires in less than a year. Any promise of being given a starting role will be difficult to grant as Hernandez and Dayot Upamecano will also be fighting for the two center back positions. Süle’s versatility to play right back has benefitted Bayern in two ways — having a decent right back, and keeping the talented Süle content with the stiff competition for minutes at center back.
Considering Bayern’s impeccable tendency to have multiple injuries, it is unwise to have all 3 of your senior defenders on the pitch at the same time. Tanguy Nianzou, despite showing promise, is still only 18 years old and this will be his first proper season at Bayern.
So playing Süle at right back is good for Bayern as he’s great at right back and he can be kept happy, but the Bavarians will be playing a dangerous game if this continues and we end up with a chain of injuries that will force us to look for center backs in addition to a right back when the transfer window opens in January.
A hesitant Frankfurt side that grew into the game
Frankfurt started the game slow and unsteadily. The connection between defense and attack, bypassing lines that Frankfurt is known for was missing for most of the first half.
Bayern created chance after chance but failed to put away their chances. Leon Goretzka scored a superb goal that was laser guided to the bottom corner to beat a stubborn Kevin Trapp. Gnabry, Goretzka and Lewandowski all came close to scoring that elusive second goal which never happened at the end of the day.
Saying that Frankfurt set up a low block would be doing grave injustice to them. They built a solid brick wall with 11 bodies and completely restricted Bayern’s movements in central areas and in front of goal. Bayern had better mobility on the wings, but could not translate any of their chances that came from the wings into a goal. Frankfurt squeezed out every last bit of space and shutdown the home side.
In the second half, Frankfurt’s attacks were much better, and saw them catch Bayern on the counter on several occasions, one of which led to their second goal. Their energy in the second half saw no answer from Bayern during certain intervals. With only 174 successful passes compared to Bayern’s 673, the Eagles grew into their usual, absolutely annoying selves that were frustrating to watch and win.
GOALKEEPERS. That’s it, that’s the observation...It was all about the goalkeeping show tonight. Kevin Trapp was easily Frankfurt’s savior. Bayern could have been more efficient with their shot conversion, but Trapp totally surprised the champions.
Trapp made some unbelievable saves to keep Frankfurt in the game when they needed him to. A lethal close range header from Lewy, a powerful shot from Goretzka late in the game and an early Müller shot that came through several Eintracht players — brilliant saves were made by the former Paris Saint-Germain man. Trapp registered a total of 10 saves.
Manuek Neuer, on the other hand, was no less efficient in terms of how much of an impact he had on his team. While Neuer didn’t have to make as many saves as Trapp did, he was out and about several times to bail Bayern from Frankfurt counters. On more than 4 occasions Neuer was off his line well to sweep up Frankfurt’s through balls.
The second goal was an unfortunate goal to concede by Neuer. A rare misjudgment saw Neuer unable to stop Kostic’s powerful shot. Despite it being the difference maker between the two sides, Neuer is definitely not the one to blame.