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Five observations from Bayern Munich’s 4-1 thrashing of RB Leipzig

A deserved win sees Bayern head into the Barcelona game with a spring in their step.

RB Leipzig v FC Bayern München - Bundesliga Photo by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images

Leroy Sane is a different beast on the left

It’s weird how small changes can make such an impact on a player’s performance. Playing on the side of his dominant foot, Leroy Sane looks like a different player — more akin to the monster of Manchester City than the sad Robben-bootleg we’ve gotten used to at Bayern Munich. The hesitancy, the confidence issues, the general lack of polish in his play — it’s all gone. He looks like the man Bayern are paying 17m a year for.

With the goal against Leipzig, Sane now has six goal contributions (4 goals and 6 assists) in six games on the left. He didn’t play the full 90 in all of those games, so his per 90 numbers are even better than a goal-per-game. Additionally, he’s done it all while maintaining a steady work-rate, being active defensively, and participating in the team’s press. I don’t think you’ll see any more accusations of “laziness” directed towards him — Sane is putting in work.

If he continues improving at this rate, Sane’s guaranteed to be Bayern’s second-best winger. Why second-best? Well ...

Let’s just admit it — Jamal Musiala is the best teenager in the world

I dare you to name a better one. Not since prime Franck Ribery has Bayern Munich had a player who could dribble through defenses with such ease. Opposition defenders literally do not know what to do with him — to use a tired cliché, it’s like the ball sticks to his feet.

Of course, let’s not characterize Musiala as a mere dribbling monster. He’s so much more than that. His maturity is beyond his years — he has a level of anticipation, awareness, and defensive commitment that few players his age ever show.

Musiala’s gameplay is supremely mature, so you can just sit back and enjoy his prodigious talent without being distracted by the usual shortcomings of a player his age. This is probably his greatest asset, and the one that sets him apart from every other highly rated teenager. I firmly believe Musiala is the best in Europe right now.

Nagelsmann is bringing us the Alphonso Davies renaissance

Despite his reputation as an “attacking” fullback, Alphonso Davies has never been one to get large numbers of direct goal contributions. That seems to be changing under Nagelsmann. With a license to roam further forward and use his dribbling more aggressively, it feels like the new coach is coaxing more attacking output from his young Canadian speedster.

Phonzie already has 2 assists this season, and could’ve had a couple more if not for poor finishing today. He’s always had the potential to do more in attack, but under Flick it felt like he wasn’t living up to it. Now, it seems that Nagelsmann is committed to using Davies more directly. It’ll be exciting to see how he grows from here.

Bayern’s midfield looking tired and inconsistent

Maybe it was fatigue or maybe it was the shoddy pitch, but Bayern Munich had an absolutely torrid time in midfield versus RB Leipzig today. Joshua Kimmich and Leon Goretzka looked tired out there, lagging behind the pace of the game and struggling to cope with Jesse Marsch’s trademark press.

This is a problem that isn’t exclusive to this one game — Bayern’s midfield doesn’t look as sharp as it did in previous years. The reason isn’t obvious, because the personnel and tactics haven’t changed that much. Are Kimmich and Goretzka just out of form? Is it tiredness? Did Nageslmann change something in training?

Whatever it is, a solution needs to be found. While Bayern play mostly through the wings, the midfield is the soul of a team. You can’t expect to win the Champions League with a sup-par mid.

Fitness questions ahead of Barcelona

RB Leipzig v FC Bayern München - Bundesliga Photo by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images

With the game against Leipzig done with, Julian Nagelsmann looks forward to Bayern’s upcoming Champions League clash against FC Barcelona. Bayern have some tough fitness issues to deal with — both Serge Gnabry and Robert Lewandowski had to be pulled out of the game as a precaution, and Leroy Sane was suffering cramps by the end of the game. Alphonso Davies was also forced to play a full 90 right after coming back from injury, and Bayern already had multiple absentees coming into this game.

This is a tough situation for Nagelsmann to be in. Messi or no Messi, Barca are no joke at the Camp Nou. Let’s hope the precautionary subs that were made today will be enough, because Bayern’s players need rest before they go to Spain.

Miscellaneous observations

  • Lucas Hernandez and Dayot Upamecano kept RB’s offense pretty much at bay. Laimer’s goal was a freak incident and you can’t blame them for that.
  • Lewandowski missed some chances he doesn’t usually miss. Fitness issues? Let’s hope not.
  • It was a good decision by Nagelsmann to sub off Thomas Muller. He’s not quite 100% yet (as was apparent on the pitch) and we really need him against Barcelona.