Bayern Munich thoroughly dominated
The scoreline may suggest otherwise but make no mistake... Bayern Munich were deserved winners, and Arminia never looked like they’d cause any serious problems, and that is largely because of Bayern’s play, smart pressing approach, and quick, sharp passing. The midfield was quite good today, with Corentin Tolisso and Leon Goretzka doing a tidy job as a dual pivot. The game ended with Bayern having an xG of 2.42 compared to Arminia’s 0.7, which more or less sums everything up. If not for an otherworldly performance from Stefan Ortega, the game would’ve ended sooner.
Alphonso Davies is the best attacking fullback in the world
Successful dribbles? Check. Multiple shots on target? Check. Good crosses? Check. Attacking the flank with pace and power? Check. This man can do everything, and he’s still just 21. Let that sink in.
Davies has been one of Bayern’s best players so far this season, and a large part of the credit for that goes to Julian Nagelsmann, who is really bringing the best out of the player. Yes, venturing so far up the pitch very often might leave things a bit tight at the back, but Davies’ main strengths lie in attacking from the back, while dropping back to defend when required. Nagelsmann seems to have made the defense somewhat more conservative, with Lucas Hernandez and Dayot Upamecano having a really great game and managing a clean sheet (!!!!).
Interestingly, Benjamin Pavard also had a very solid game, and was very good defensively. He also ventured forward to attack a couple of times, which was a welcome change. When Niklas Süle recovers completely, this backline is going to look scary.
Müllendowski worked their socks off
Robert Lewandowski is an underrated playmaker. He should’ve had at least 3 assists this game if the Bayern players (including Thomas Müller) had brought their scoring boots. He often found himself isolated up front, and dropped deep or moved to the wings to receive the ball and carry it forward. His flicks, dummies, and one-twos resulted in some great chances which just couldn't be converted.
With Müller, I was more impressed with the defensive contributions. Granted, he did register an assist, but that was far from the most impressive play from him during the game. He always fought for the ball, won it back several times, and quickly launched attacks. There was a moment in the game when he tacked a Bielefeld midfielder, controlled the ball and slid it through for Leon Goretzka, which was just brilliant.
As long as these two are on the pitch, Bayern’s chances of a double this season seem pretty high.
Ortega is a menace of a keeper (for opposition teams)
Arminia Bielefeld’s goalkeeper single-handedly kept them in the game and had an MOTM worthy performance. Making six stunning saves from point-blank range and several more against shots coming in from distance, he really bossed between the sticks for the visitors today. Bayern Munich never fails to bring out the best in opposition keepers, but I really hope the tide turns in the favour sometime soon, because it’s exhausting to face prime Manuel Neuer week in, week out.
Back 3, back 4, or both?
On paper, Bayern’s lineup looks like a standard 4-2-3-1 with two fullbacks. However, on the pitch, it’s a slightly different story. Davies going so far up the pitch means Pavard usually has to drop back, with Lucas manning the left and Upamecano covering the center. In this game, we saw flashes of both. A back 4 when Pavard also attacked for a bit, and a more defensive back 4 when Davies tracked back to defend against Bielefeld’s attack. The back 3 was also very obvious, particularly towards the beginning.
Is a fluid formation a bad thing though? This offers Bayern tactical flexibility and a way to adapt to different situations. Lucas and Upa did a great job in the center, and Pavard acted like a counterbalance for Davies sometimes. When Süle joins the fray, the “back 4” may be more obvious due to both fullbacks then being offense-oriented. However, Bayern’s defense exuded balance today, which is important when you want clean sheets.
Against clubs like Arminia, almost all of Bayern’s defenders will play close to the half-line or even in Arminia’s half, which is why sometimes it may be hard to maintain the structure of a proper back 4. Yes, today’s win wasn’t swashbuckling, but it was a solid performance and Bayern also managed to keep a clean sheet, which has become somewhat of a rare occurrence.
So yeah, the defense is doing just fine.
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