Hertha Berlin wasn’t letting Bayern Munich get away with an easy win. The gritty game ended at a close score of 1-0 to the away side. With several chances missed by both sides, Kingsley Coman’s deflected shot ended up being the difference between the two teams. Here are the observations:
Another confusing lineup
As far as game lineups go, Hansi Flick is probably the most confusion inducing coach at Bayern in recent times. Probably.
Nearly every single match has the fans in a debate over his lineup choice. Today was no different. With the FIFA Club World Cup games in two days, Hansi fielded a full-strength squad with all three primary wingers at the fore.
Considering the injury-prone nature of our wingers, it was a bold gamble by Flick. Hansi also played our current best winger and today’s goalscorer, Kingsley Coman, for 85 minutes, hinting that he might not start the semi-finals against Al Ahly.
Starting two wingers with a double pivot and subbing in Jamal Musiala and Douglas Costa early in the second half would have been the more “sensible” game-plan, thereby keeping the wingers fresh for the CWC, but Hansi probably has his reasons to not do so.
Bayern’s play-style is better suited to the double pivot
Bayern’s play-style under Hansi Flick works better with a double pivot compared to the single pivot that the coach played today. Despite their great contribution in defence, the 5 attackers could not help Joshua Kimmich as much as he would have wanted.
Leon Goretzka’s absence was felt as Bayern missed his presence in both ball holding as well as counter-pressing duties. His pairing enables Kimmich and helps him control higher areas of the pitch thereby decreasing the number of chances created. But due to his absence, Bayern couldn’t effectively control the higher areas of the pitch despite having five men there. They constantly lost balls and as a result, the play was often broken leading to fewer goal chances. Hertha had a total of 17 interceptions — many of which were in their third— and succeeded in 11 of the 14 tackles attempted.
A rainy night in Stoke? How about a snowy night in Berlin?
This was a gritty match from start to finish. The first half especially was unpredictable for the most part as both teams went back and forth creating chances and disrupting each other’s play constantly. A total of 24 tackles and 28 interceptions were made with 20 aerial challenges between the two teams, while the fouls given away by both teams totalled to 27.
The persistent snowfall didn’t soften the players’ resolve to stop every chance created. Both teams’ players deserve a lot of credit for their combined defensive displays.
The Bayern defence had a good day
Despite missing his partner Leon Goretzka, Kimmich bossed the midfield on his own for the most part and plugged the leaks seeping in from Hertha’s half.
The Bayern attackers lost possession multiple times today, but the number of times that translated into dangerous chances was little.
The backline of Lucas Hernandez, David Alaba, Niklas Süle, and Benjamin Pavard together put in a fine defensive shift today. While the four of them had just 9 tackles attempted of which 6 were successful, their well-timed movements put them in positions to make 6 interceptions and several recoveries.
Manuel Neuer was once again crucial as he made a couple of huge saves and sweeper like recoveries when Hertha managed to get the ball past the defence. Congratulations to the captain on his 200th Bundesliga clean sheet!
Robert Lewandowski shows that he is also human
The record-breaking Polish goal machine failed to score an early penalty today. Hertha goalie, Runne Almenning Jarstein saved the 12th-minute penalty to deny Lewy his 18th penalty conversion in a row in all competitions. Lewy’s last penalty miss was over two years ago, against Stuttgart in January 2019.
The penalty save is shocking as Lewy has a monstrous penalty record of 58 scored and 6 missed in all competitions.