The formation was unorthodox, if not confusing
Julian Nagelsmann put his team out in a formation that isn’t really used much by Bayern Munich — a 4-3-3. In his first game against Köln, he played a 4-2-3-1, whereas against Ajax, he played a back three in a 3-4-3. This time, it was time for yet another formation test from the young coach.
Josip Stanisic, normally a defender, was played as a no. 6 ahead of Dayot Upamecano and Tanguy Nianzou, while Torben Rhein and Michael Cuisance played as two no. 8s behind a front three of Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting, Malik Tillmann, and Joshua Zirkzee. The result wasn’t that satisfying; the midfield and forward press that Nagelsmann is evidently trying to implement was still there, but attack-wise, the efforts were average at best. For good reason too, this was the first time Bayern had played with a 4-3-3 in a long time, with former coach Hansi Flick normally preferring a typical 4-2-3-1.
Whether this formation will be a mainstay or a one-time experiment remains to be seen, but judging from how it turned out, it’s unlikely that Nagelsmann will turn to it any time soon.
A flat game, unlike the past two friendlies
For some reason, this game was not as intense as the last two that Bayern played over the past week. Both the games against Köln and Ajax were entertaining and fast-paced, so much so that Bayern fans could walk away with a lot of positives, despite not having won either match. This game, however, was a different story.
Gone were the quick counters and heavy press that worked so well, to be replaced by slower, more lethargic attacks that were often broken up. Yes, there were a few individuals who looked lively nonetheless, with Tillman and Rhein both impressing, but the team looked a bit flat today as a whole for some reason. Motivation levels are normally lower in a friendly like this, of course, but Nagelsmann will want to find ways to get his team’s performance back up so that he can instill some confidence in both his players and his fans.
Nagelsmann out? Not yet ...
Stranger things have happened in pre-season, yes, but it’s still pretty uninspiring to see Bayern’s pre-season record read one draw and two defeats in three games. Nagelsmann’s Bayern has yet to clinch its first win, and with the season’s first game right around the corner, some fans might be a bit concerned. But remember that the last few games featured a lot of players who will be lucky to see first team football this season, and that Bayern’s true strengths have not been utilized yet.
The only regular starter one can name who played in the last three games was Upamecano, and even he won’t be guaranteed playing time if he doesn’t impress in competitive matches. We’ll have to wait and see what a full-strength Bayern team under Nagelsmann looks like, and it seems the earliest chance we’ll get is the game against Napoli on Saturday, when most of the internationals are set to return. Even then, the likes of Joshua Kimmich and Manuel Neuer will still be absent, so let’s not get our hopes up way too high.
It’s too early to say Nagelsmann Out, and we as fans shouldn’t overreact to a few pre-season defeats. Yes, it’s not that comforting to see a sextuple-winning team go winless in three games, but no one wins any silverware for winning pre-season friendlies. The real campaign starts later, so let’s hope Bayern will be ready by then.