In their first home game this season, Bayern Munich had to settle for a draw against Ajax after an entertaining ninety minutes. It was a battle between two young coaches testing their young teams against one another. Julian Nagelsmann and Erik Ten Haag’s boys put on a show for the partially filled Allianz Arena. While the game did seem evenly matched, Bayern had the edge against the opposition, creating favourable situations for themselves and could have even won the game had they been sharper. Here are the observations:
A promising performance from Omar Richards
The young Englishman shone bright in his second appearance in red. Playing much higher up as a winger with Josip Stanišić at left-back, Richards surprised with his attacking and defensive work rate. Constantly making runs into pockets of space and setting up plays for his teammates while tracking back to make some important tackles, Richards owned the left flank today. For the most part, he was the sole attacking outlet to carry the ball from midfield in the first half. If he continues his development at this rate, Bayern might have just unearthed a gem of a player.
The Bouna-Goting connection
Bouna Sarr and Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting were the most senior outfield players on the pitch today and played their role very well in leading the youngsters around them. Choupo led the attack and involved himself constantly with the other forwards to provide an option to pass the ball to or to connect the flanks, often dropping back several times.
Sarr on the other hand didn’t show up along with the rest of the Bayern right flank barring Armindo Seib until the half hour mark. But when the opportunity arose, Sarr made an intense run to retain the ball before making a calculated cross that was finished by Choupo to score Bayern’s equaliser. It was wonderful to watch Sarr — a player mostly written off by many — to take initiative, not letting the chance go easily and convert it to a goal. That...was very much MiaSanMia from Bouna Sarr. He connected again with Choupo later in the game with another accurate cross but Choupo was denied what would have been a spectacular scissor kick goal.
Perhaps the second season’s the charm for Bouna and a different coach with a different setup might just be what he needs to prove himself. Regardless, it was a mature performance from the Frenchman and the Cameroonian when their team needed it.
That first half and Nagelsmann’s pep talk
Bayern’s first half was a mixed bag. The attacks originated primarily through the left and spread out more centrally as the ball moved higher up the pitch. The defence of Stanisic-Tanguy-Upamecano-Sarr got the job done barring one unforced error from Sven Ulreich that lead to the first goal.
The same however cannot be said about the midfield, which was mostly non-existent for most of the 45 minutes. Cuisance had a particularly poor half as he was nowhere to be seen and was completely on another page from the rest of his team. Rhein on the other hand was only marginally better than his French colleague in midfield. This resulted in Bayern having good phases in ball recovery at the back followed by a period of limbo and then an attack coming out of nowhere. It was a very weird half because the midfield’s presence could not be felt. The defenders themselves tried several times to carry the ball to the opposition third to have a more direct line of play but didn’t see much success either.
The team was in much need of a pep talk and that was what they probably got in the half time break. Compared to the first half, the second half looked like a completely different affair. The whole team played more like a unit with the midfield doing a much better job of bridging the attack and defence of the team. This resulted in greater pressure against the opposition which lead to a goal within 2 minutes of the second half. The team was unchanged until the hour mark and such a drastic difference after the break can only be attributed to the coach realigning his team in the break.
A stylish show by the Bayern youngsters
Its not often you see a side out-flair an Ajax team, especially when the said side is full of kids from the youth wing. Nagelsmann completely changed the outfield with 10 substitutions after the hour mark. Ajax themselves made several subs too but the Bayern youngsters had many tricks up their sleeve going against boys from the famed Dutch academy. Motika, Mosandl, Wenig and Vidovic to name a few, were outright styling on the Ajax players and surprisingly converted flair moves into good chances but fell short of turning them into goals. It was a very entertaining second half as youngsters from both sides made full use of the friendly to boldly showcase their skills and make a case for themselves with the Bayern players standing out.