For those hoping the Julian Nagelsmann would get off to a rousing start at Bayern Munich; you’ve probably been disappointed.
Friday’s draw against a very game Borussia Mönchengladbach side left a lot to be desired. Some of the problem we saw against Die Fohlen are familiar, while others could be the result of a coach not really using the formation he is most comfortable with.
Regardless of whether that is true or not, here are some quick thoughts on how Bayern Munich can immediately improve heading into the DFL-Supercup:
Start Jamal Musiala at wing: Look, it’s been months now since we have seen Leroy Sane, Serge Gnabry, or Kingsley Coman string together a series of good performances…months. The trio’s propensity to disappear is starting to get troubling. This is not to say they aren’t very good players — they are — but it just seems like the trio has not been able to really get things going for a LONG time. Musiala brings dribbling ability, creativity, and speed to the pitch at a time where it’s needed on a consistent basis. At a minimum, if Nagelsmann is resistant to starting Musiala then he should at least get Coman back in the XI.
Put the reins on Alphonso Davies a bit: It sure looks like Davies is guilty of reading his own press clippings at times. The Canadian is a dynamic presence at left-back, but his eagerness to get the ball upfield has often left his defensive mates in bad spots going all the way back to last season. Davies’ decision to try and dribble through two defenders, immediately sprung Gladbach for its only goal. Never a terrific positional defender, Davies has relied on recovery speed to make some of his most talked about plays over the years. Teams have adjusted and just wait for him to barrel forward, just before slipping in behind and unleashing damaging counter-attacks.
You could also argue that — sometimes — Davies pushes up into areas where the wingers might normally be able to exploit space, which is creating a traffic jam of sorts. Whatever the case, a little more defensive awareness might be what is needed against the dangerous Dortmund attack.
Give Dayot Upamecano less responsibility: Given the injuries on the backline, Upamecano is a starting player, but he has problems with strong, physical players. Sure, Upamecano has a lot of potential, but he might not be totally ready for prime time under the bright lights in Munich. To me, Niklas Süle was better against Gladbach and would be the starting center-back pairing with Lucas Hernandez if the injured Frenchman was healthy. Also, if Bayern Munich cannot trust Süle to be the lead dog on the backline, then it might already know whether it should extend his deal or sell. I believe in Süle and think he can rise to the occasion.
Anyway, Upamecano is ready to play at Bayern Munich, but it might be at least a little time until he is ready to star at Bayern Munich. The defender needs a little more seasoning and maybe a little less stress as he acclimates to Bavaria. As we found out last season with Sane, the first season after a move to Bayern Munich can be dicey.
While these three items might not guarantee a victory against Dortmund, they should help the team be able to function a little more seamlessly.
Are we truly seeing Nagelsmann ball?
This is an odd hunch, but I don’t get the impression we are truly seeing the system and style of play that Julian Nagelsmann wants to run just yet.
While the new coach has talked about flexibility and maintaining the ability to switch formations, he is still using some semblance of Bayern Munich’s 4-2-3-1. Even if lunkheads like me think that is the best system for this team, some of what is going on feels a bit like season two under Niko Kovac, where the now-AS Monaco skipper had to run a system that he was not fully invested in.
We’ll certainly be able to see how this plays out and I wouldn’t expect to see Nagelsmann change anything any time soon, but if feels like he will — eventually — have to be allowed to run the system/formation he wants or his effectiveness as a manager could be hindered.
Song of Midweek: “Money Talks” by AC/DC
If you have been paying attention to world football over the summer, you know exactly why this song was chosen.
I mean, it is a great song, but man is it appropriate these days. Lionel Messi to PSG? Manchester City trying to buy everyone?
Money does talk:
The BPW Flagship Show
In this episode Tom and Ineednoname discuss:
- Their first impressions thus far of Nagelsmann
- The crazy landscape of the transfer market this summer
- Whether or not they think Bayern will sign Marcel Sabitzer from RB Leipzig
- The wage structure at Bayern
- Who they think Bayern’s biggest European rivals will be this season
While the first Bundesliga game did not go as planned for Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund had a fantastic offensive showing against Eintracht Frankfurt.
The BVB defense looked extremely suspect, but Borussia Dortmund’s offense looked overwhelmingly good. Still, BVB is going to have to show it can take down a motivated Bayern Munich side before we can have too much confidence in them.
Bayern Munich is going to have control the game with its possession, something it has not been able to do much going back to the end of last season. The Bavarians have become more aggressive moving forward and play a fun style that can sometimes leave the backline exposed. Against Erling Haaland, Marco Reus, and company, that could prove to be a huge mistake.
I’m not saying Bayern Munich will have to play conservatively to win the game, but they will have to be smarter about when to take chances and how they are set up positionally.
I think Bayern Munich will hold off this charge from Dortmund by taking advantage of an inconsistent backline, but the gap between the two squads is rapidly getting smaller.
Prediction: Borussia Dortmund 2-3 Bayern Munich
Now on to our guest prognosticators:
Fergus: Dortmund we’re at their swashbuckling best in their Bundesliga opener, with fluid passages, vibrant counter attacks and complete control over proceedings. Ultimately, I think they will prove to strong for a Bayern team which has experienced teething issues under Nagelsmann. Also, Haaland will simply prove too strong a match for an inexperienced Bayern centre-back pairing. Prediction: Borussia Dortmund 3-1 Bayern Munich.
Ouch...that was not the way to start.
Last Match Day record: 4-5
Overall record: 4-5
Guest prognosticator record: 0-0