Bayern Munich made incredibly hard work of it, but eventually grinded out a 2-1 win over Mainz at the Allianz Arena, maintaining their spot on top of the Bundesliga table. It took a second half comeback with goals from Kingsley Coman (53’) and Jamal Musiala (74’) to secure a vital three points for Julian Nagelsmann’s side as the hinrunde approaches its conclusion.
The pair of second half goals cancelled out Karim Onisiwo’s header in the 21st minute, after Jonathan Burkhardt had done well to hold on to the ball in the box and find his teammate at the back post. Bayern did have their chances in either half, and Alphonso Davies forced Robin Zentner to make a decent save in the 10th minute, but Bayern started to grow into the match in the second half, when the ultimate difference was made.
It was a rare, collector’s item of a Bundesliga match for Bayern. Robert Lewandowski wasn’t on the score sheet and Thomas Muller didn’t register an assist, but the pair were still very active and involved. For large portions, Mainz did well to keep Bayern’s attack quiet, but they did inevitably concede 8 shots on target as they started to tire in the second half.
Speaking after the match, Muller gave Mainz a lot of credit for how difficult they made life for Bayern for the majority of the match. “We got three very important points today. Mainz made it difficult for us. They reacted very quickly and were well prepared. Such games happen. In the end we managed to take the win. Mainz is a team that is not called ‘disgusting to play’ for nothing. That’s why we’re going happily into the weekend,” he said (tz).
Due to Bavaria re-tightening coronavirus restrictions, Bayern secured the win over Mainz in front of an empty Allianz Arena. As unfortunate as it was, Muller’s vocal presence on the pitch was once again just as noticeable as it was last season, which Nagelsmann highlighted in his post-match debriefing to the press.
Muller also played an indirect hand in Coman’s equalizer. Corentin Tolisso played a sublime ball over the top to his French compatriot, but Muller’s run into the central area of Mainz’s box attracted the attention of Aarón Caricol, Moussa Niakhaté, and Alexander Hack, with Sane barreling down the left flank. When Muller moved central as the ball came over the top, it caused both Caricol and Niakhaté to move towards him, causing a slight hesitation from Caricol in getting out to close Coman down. By the time he got to Coman, it was too late.
Kingsley Coman with the equalizer for Bayern! pic.twitter.com/WdlIrZA6v2— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) December 11, 2021
While Muller wasn’t the difference maker today, the little nuances like his indirect involvement in Coman’s goal with his spatial recognition emulate the type of grit and attention to detail required to grind out results in difficult matches. For large portions Mainz made it look like it was going to be a frustrating day at the office for Bayern, but some of the little details, combined with Nagelsmann’s tactical substitutions was the difference between one and three points.