Bayern Munich once again restored the gap over Borussia Dortmund at the top of the Bundesliga table to six points with their dominant 4-1 win over Hertha Berlin under the lights at the Olympiastadion.
Goals from Corentin Tolisso, Thomas Müller, Leroy Sane, and Serge Gnabry rounded out the victory for Julian Nagelsmann’s side and Jurgen Ekklelenkamp’s goal for Hertha in the 80th minute was hardly even a consolation, coming on the tale end of a comedy of errors at the back from Bayern. On the overall balance, the scoresheet perhaps even flattered Hertha, as Bayern recorded 19 shots on target to Hertha’s two and Alexander Schwolow recorded a total of 14 saves, per WhoScored stats.
Nagelsmann has been forced to start the Ruckrunde with a bevvy of players unavailable through either COVID infection or injury, but he’s finally starting to get players back fully fit. In a rare look in Berlin, he made the decision to start Sane, Gnabry, Muller, and Coman behind Robert Lewandowski, with Gnabry and Coman presumably starting as inverted wing backs on opposite flanks. Tolisso and Joshua Kimmich anchored the center of the midfield ahead of Lucas Hernandez, Niklas Sule, and Benjamin Pavard, who appeared to form what was a back three. It was a stroke of calculated risk and reward from Nagelsmann going with such an attacking lineup, but it clearly paid off with how much Bayern dominated offensively.
Speaking after the match, Müller lauded Bayern’s superiority, especially considering not knowing how well the new-look formation would work out. “We played a good game, allowed almost nothing, and bottled up Berlin from the first minute. We were looking forward to the game, even though we weren’t sure how a defensive wing tackle of Gnabry and Coman would work. We heard each other on the pitch,” he said (Tz).
In a similar vein to SC Freiburg’s Mark Flekken at the end of last season when Lewandowski was on the verge of breaking Gerd Müller’s scoring record, Schwolow was in shop-stopping form and had (Thomas) Müller’s number on a handful of occasions both before and after his goal. It was a cheekily worked routine from both Sane and Kimmich on the free kick that lead to Müller’s goal in the 45th minute, baiting Hertha into a premature offside trap before Müller’s outstretched left boot poked it past Schwolow. Jokingly, the Raumdeuter thanked Bayern’s kit man for screwing in his boot studs properly. “I found the magnet in the opponent’s goalkeeper gloves again. Greetings to the gear man, he screwed the stud on well. But I also have to admit: There was no real attempt to defend me,” he said.
There’s currently a series called Decoded out on DAZN that analyzes Müller’s performances on the pitch and his unique playing style. He’s aware of the series and joked that he now has to take the time to actually watch it to ensure they don’t trash talk him or get anything inaccurate. “I’ve already noticed that the format exists. I have to watch it now, so you don’t talk nonsense about me,” he joked.