Thomas Muller and Leroy Sane get in each other’s way
Converting Leroy Sane into a left half-space player may have saved his Bayern Munich career, but Julian Nagelsmann is starting to grapple with some unintended consequences.
You know who else is a half-space player? Thomas Muller. Yeah, he prefers to drift to the right, but that still means his zones tend to overlap with Sane in the middle. Given how Alphonso Davies likes to push high up the pitch as a pseudo-winger, this means that Sane drifts inside more often than he otherwise could. Muller, therefore, often finds himself further to the right than he should be, lowering his influence on the game.
Given how Muller and Sane seem to be performing just fine in the current system, it might feel weird to complain about such a minor issue. I mean, Muller is still Bayern’s top assister at the moment. However, at the moment, Nagelsmann is leaving some potential quality on the table by not using the Raumdeuter to his fullest. It doesn’t make a difference when Bayern are winning 5-0, but it could come into play in the latter stages of the Champions League, where Bayern will come up against much tougher opposition.
Julian Nagelsmann’s kryptonite is revealed
Speaking of the Champions League ... did you know that Nagelsmann has never beaten Jurgen Klopp? 4 meetings and 4 losses. In fact, why not take a look at his worst coaching matchups: (via transfermarkt)
Hmm, see a pattern? Those are three coaches who all heavily rely on intense pressing. We can see why Nagelsmann has such a poor record against them, because it’s becoming clear that his teams do NOT like being pressed. Christian Streich proved this again as his high-pressing Freiburg side almost completely suffocated Bayern in the first half.
Freiburg lacked only two things — stamina and quality. Their press dropped in intensity after the first 30 minutes and never recovered, allowing Bayern to slowly grow into the game. Meanwhile, the likes of Vincenzo Grifo and Lucas Holer simply did not have the quality to punish Bayern’s mistakes, even after Streich’s pressing system overturned possession in dangerous areas.
Rest assured, when Bayern Munich face better teams down the road, they will NOT pass up the chance to capitalize on the chances Freiburg couldn’t. We’ve already seen Nagelsmann’s best XI suffer a humiliating loss to Borussia Monchengladbach in the Pokal, showing that this team is far from unbeatable. Until the coach finds an answer for this specific type of team, Bayern will be at risk of losing out on even more silverware.
Bayern Munich’s best backline should be set in stone
If there are any good takeaways from this game, it would be the fact that Bayern Munich did have a decent defensive performance, at least until the subs were made. Sure, Manuel Neuer didn’t get his clean sheet, but Freiburg were prevented from creating quality chances for much of the 90. Closing out games remains an issue, but at least Bayern proved that they can win a game without needing to score five goals.
Dayot Upamecano and Lucas Hernandez are probably Bayern’s best center back pairing, and Niklas Sule and Alphonso Davies look like the best options at their respective fullback position. Sule especially brings a level of dynamism and creativity to the right-back position that Benjamin Pavard simply can’t replicate, while also not compromising on defensive stability.
This isn’t the first time we’ve seen this particular back-four setup used by Nagelsmann, but it was the first time we’ve seen it when Pavard has been fit. Hopefully, this means that the coach is slowly coming to terms with his best backline, and we’ll see it in all big games going forward.
That’s it for our observations! If you want more, why not check out our podcast? Here’s what we have in store:
- The changes both coaches made.
- The importance of Leroy Sane and how Julian Nageslmann deploys him in the team.
- Robert Lewandowski’s evolving role in this team.
- SC Freiburg’s position in the table and why that is no fluke.
- What SC Freiburg did really well in this game.
As always, thanks for listening!